An Evening at the Liar’s Ball: Raucous Behavior! Bottles of Colgin at the 21 Club! Talking Over the Cardinal?

In the late ’90s, to be sure, the Port Authority’s table was favorably situated in the main floor of the

In the late ’90s, to be sure, the Port Authority’s table was favorably situated in the main floor of the gala. Throw in the two million-plus square feet in vacant space the agency was looking to rent out at the time and its copious amounts of wine, and the Port Authority’s table became a popular destination for brokers thirsty for business and a free glass of tipple, several veteran brokers recalled.

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“I subsequently came to realize that this was part of the Port Authority staff’s cleverness,” added Ms. Tighe. “They understood that everybody would come to see them if they had wine at their table.”

“I don’t think it was good wine,” said Ms. Nanninga, who sat at the table during her time as deputy chief financial officer and director of real estate for the Port Authority. The wine, she said, helped not in securing business, but in meeting new brokers. “The brokerage community was very, very important to us, because we were trying to establish that … you could do business with the Port Authority,” added Ms. Nanninga.

Over the years, the industry’s biggest players—and biggest oenophiles—would bring in cases of their own fine wine to the gala. Unlike the Port Authority, however, this powerful group, which has included Vornado Realty Trust chief executive Mike Fascitelli and Newmark Knight Frank’s Neil Goldmacher, was hardly as generous. “It’s always just for their table,” said one developer. “I’ve had some of it. It’s excellent.”

Mr. Goldmacher and Mr. Fascitelli did not return calls requesting comment.

When the clock strikes 10, and brokers and developers are on the hunt for the next big party (or an empty cab), another group of industry veterans has typically splintered off to the 21 Club, where wine, once again, becomes a central talking point among real estate professionals. Cassidy Turley’s Richard Bernstein and Mark Boisi, along with colleagues Robert Billingsley and Jim Fredericks, have for the past two decades used the lounge area at 21 Club to decompress with a good bottle of red wine, like Colgin Cellars or Bryant Family Vineyard’s cabernet sauvignon.

“When we come through the doors of the 21 Club and they take one look at me and the rest of my crew, they start salivating, because they know we’re going to be cracking open the wine and going pretty deep,” said Mr. Boisi.

An Evening at the Liar’s Ball: Raucous Behavior! Bottles of Colgin at the 21 Club! Talking Over the Cardinal?