Top 10 Most Expensive Parties of All Time


Top-10-Most-Expensive-Parties

What makes a party memorable? Is it the guests, the atmosphere, the food, or the decorations? Well, if you’re one of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet, the most memorable aspect of a party might be the money spent to make it happen!

The most expensive party of all time was the one thrown by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1971, the Shah threw a party at the ruins of Persepolis in Iran that cost anywhere between $16.8 million and $500 million. This lavish event is credited for ending the Shah’s rule.

The biggest and most expensive parties have a habit of changing the world. This ranking will explore the priciest parties of all time and their long-lasting legacies (and consequences).

Here Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Parties of All Time:

  1. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s Persepolis Party (1971) – Up to $500 million
  2. Atlantis The Palm Opening (2008) – $31 million
  3. Nita Ambani’s 50th Birthday Party (2013) – $30 million
  4. Sultan of Brunei’s 50th Birthday Party (1996) – $27.2 million
  5. Elizabeth Brooks’s Bat Mitzvah (2005) – $10 million
  6. Kumari Mayawati’s 47th Birthday Party (2003) – $7 million
  7. David Bonderman’s 60th Birthday Party (2002) – $7 million
  8. Stephen Schwarzman’s 60th Birthday Party (2007) – $5 million
  9. Aleksandra Nikolić Melnichenko’s 30th Birthday Party (2007) – $2 million+
  10. Naomi Campbell’s 36th Birthday Party (2006) – $1.8 million

10. Naomi Campbell’s 36th Birthday Party (2006) – $1.8 Million

Naomi-Campbell-Birthday-Party
photo source: Pinterest

Naomi Campbell is one of the most iconic and celebrated models of the last century. But did you know she also threw one of the most expensive birthday parties of all time?

In 2006, this British beauty held a $1.8 million three-day celebration in her own honor at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel. The entire 18 floors of the sail-shaped hotel were rented out for this multi-day event.

Considering the fact that a single room at the Burj Al Arab can set you back about $1,600, that’s a lot of dough spent right away on the venue!

Each day of this birthday celebration had a unique theme, and guests ranged from rap artist Jay-Z to Barack Obama (before he was president).

Why Is It So Expensive?

Location and duration are the primary reasons why Naomi Campbell’s 36th birthday party was so expensive. Not only did this party go on for about 72 hours, but it took place at one of the most expensive hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab!

9. Aleksandra Nikolić Melnichenko’s 30th Birthday Party (2007) – $2 Million+

Andrey-and-Aleksandra-Melnichenko
photo source: Richard Young

2007 was quite the year for pricey parties, with Aleksandra Nikolić Melnichenko’s 30th birthday party being one of the most expensive; of all time!

Although it’s unclear exactly how much Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko paid for his wife’s birthday celebration, we know he spent $2 million to fly Jennifer Lopez to the event.

Chances are, the final cost of this party was much higher.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Having a famous pop star and actress perform at your birthday party can quickly get pricey. J.Lo’s appearance at this particular celebration was the main reason it ended up being an expensive shindig.

8. Stephen Schwarzman’s 60th Birthday Party (2007) – $5 Million

Rows-of-tables-at-Stephen-Schwarzman’s-60th-birthday-party-2007
photo source: The New York Times

Nobody knows how to throw an expensive party quite like a successful CEO. And in 2007, Stephen Schwarzman (CEO of Blackstone Group) did just that.

This birthday party took place at the hangar-like Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City and was attended by some of the wealthiest businesspeople of the time. It also featured live entertainment, courtesy of Rod Stewart and Patti LaBelle!

Guests were pampered at this party, enjoying a dinner of lobster and filet mignon while sipping some of the finest wines money can buy. But these meals and concerts cost Schwarzman a solid $5 million, cementing his legacy as a man who knows how to throw pricey parties.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Renting out the massive Seventh Regiment Armory, hiring world-class chefs to prepare decadent dinners, and paying for live entertainment from the likes of Rod Stewart costs a pretty penny. These aspects are some of the main reasons Schwarzman’s 60th birthday party was such a costly affair.

Still, this wasn’t the costliest 60th birthday party an American businessman has ever thrown for himself. David Bonderman has Schwarzman beat in that respect!

7. David Bonderman’s 60th Birthday Party (2002) – $7 Million

David-Bonderman's-60th-Birthday-Party-2002
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

When you’re a CEO of a massively successful company, you can afford to celebrate your birthday any way you’d like.

For David Bonderman, a billionaire who helped found TPG Capital, no luxury was off the table in 2002. Bonderman threw himself a wild $7 million party that featured a live concert performed by The Rolling Stones and John Mellencamp.

This birthday bash took place at The Hard Rock in Las Vegas (now Virgin Hotels Las Vegas), and the master of ceremonies was none other than late comic legend Robin Williams.

Why Is It So Expensive?

This 60th birthday party cost millions because of its live concerts.

After all, although The Rolling Stones might not be quite as popular as they were during the 1960s and 1970s, they sell out arenas each time they decide to go on tour. In fact, some of the most expensive concert tickets ever sold were for The Rolling Stones 50 & Counting Tour!

6. Kumari Mayawati’s 47th Birthday Party (2003) – $7 Million

Kumari-Mayawati's-47th-Birthday-Party-2003
photo source: DNA India

Kumari Mayawati (commonly referred to simply as Mayawati) was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2003. The same year, she celebrated her 47th birthday in one of the most elaborate parties ever known to man.

This $7 million event included a 112lb cake (about 51kg), thousands of floral bouquets, and mandatory gifts (monetary support day coupons) from government departments. Yes, mandatory.

An astounding 30,000 guests attended this celebration, and these attendees had to endure a three-hour dedication and tribute to Mayawati. They were then handed tiny booklets about Mayawati and her many fantastic deeds.

Like other high-priced parties, the general public didn’t take kindly to Mayawati’s over-the-top birthday celebration.

Still, she seems to learn from his mistake, as in 2021, she didn’t celebrate her birthday at all, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and its victims as the main reason.

Why Is It So Expensive?

The expensive flowers and enormous cake were a significant part of this birthday party’s budget.

Still, they don’t truly account for the full cost of Mayawati’s 47th birthday blowout. Maybe the cost of printing so much positive propaganda about herself for guests to take home was the true reason this shindig was so costly.

5. Elizabeth Brooks’s Bat Mitzvah (2005) – $10 Million

Elizabeth-Brooks-Bat-Mitzvah-2005
photo source: StyleCaster

It’s not every day that you get to celebrate your bat mitzvah, so it’s important to make it special. But Elizabeth Brooks’s 2005 bat mitzvah might be the most unique and costly of all time.

This celebration cost $10 million, which was probably just a drop in the bucket for Elizabeth’s father, David Brooks, the (now former) CEO of DHB Industries.

A significant portion of the money spent on this bat mitzvah went toward paying its celebrity performers, which included 50 Cent, Stevie Nicks, and Aerosmith.

Guests also received luxurious gift bags to take home with them. These bags were packed full of hi-tech gadgets, including iPods (which were still quite new at the time).

But maybe this party was a little too over the top.

After all, when all was said and done, David Brooks was served with a federal indictment and investigated for insider trading and tax evasion. In 2010, he was sent to prison. He was still serving his sentence when he passed away in 2016.

Why Is It So Expensive?

This party was primarily expensive because of the celebrity guests and performances. The elaborate and costly guest gift bags also contributed to the final cost of this bat mitzvah.

Of course, the most costly aspect of this event might be the fact that it cost David Brooks his career and freedom.

4. Sultan of Brunei’s 50th Birthday Party (1996) – $27.2 Million

Sultan-of-Brunei-on-his-50th-birthday
photo source: Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei/Facebook

If you’ve never heard of Brunei, don’t worry; you’re not alone! This tiny country is located on the island of Borneo and has a comparatively tiny population of only about 441,000 residents.

That said, Brunei is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, thanks to the substantial income from overseas investment. Consequently, its ruler, Sultan Sir Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, can afford to throw himself a truly lavish birthday party now and again.

When the Sultan turned 50 in 1996, that’s exactly what he did, spending a total of $27.2 million to celebrate the big five-o.

A significant portion of those party funds (about $15 million) went toward hiring the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to perform three concerts at the largest amusement park in Brunei, Jerudong Park.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Although Michael Jackson’s popularity had waned significantly by the mid-1990s, he was still an in-demand performer. Consequently, having him perform multiple concerts was an expensive undertaking.

Of course, the Beluga caviar and limitless champagne also contributed to the event’s incredible price tag. The thousands of attendees also got a unique and pricey party souvenir to take home with them; a gold medal!

3. Nita Ambani’s 50th Birthday Party (2013) – $30 Million

Dancers-perform-at-Balsamand-Lake-during-Nita-Ambani's-50th-birthday-party
photo source: Times of India

The Ambani family of India is one of the wealthiest in the world, with a total net worth of more than $80 billion. So, when one of the members of this family, Nita Ambani, celebrated her 50th birthday in 2013, you can bet there was plenty of money to put toward throwing an unforgettable party.

It ended up being a two-day extravaganza that cost about $30 million. The first day featured a live performance by AR Rehman at the Umaid Bhavan Palace.

Three hundred lucky guests were in attendance, in no small part thanks to the dozens of chartered private planes hired by the Ambani family. There were also imported flowers, amusement park rides, and a dazzling display of fireworks.

The second day of this party was more of a private affair for Nita and her family, so we’ll never know just how luxurious the second part of this 50th birthday party was.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Nearly every aspect of this multi-day party was expensive, from the chartered private planes used to ensure top-level guests arrived safely to the live concert performed by AR Rehman (of Slumdog Millionaire fame).

Additionally, one of the amusement rides at this party was imported all the way from London! As you can imagine, the cost of transporting a ride such a long distance is pretty high.

Notably, this is the most recent high-cost party included in this ranking.

2. Atlantis The Palm Opening (2008) – $31 Million

Atlantis-The Palm-Opening-2008
photo source: StyleCaster

Dubai is home to some of the wealthiest people on the planet, and it’s also where one of the most extravagant hotel openings occurred.

In 2008, the Atlantis The Palm (a massive seven-star resort and hotel) opened in Dubai. It took more than a billion bucks to make this happen, and the hotel’s developer, Kerzner International Resorts, celebrated the opening by throwing an exclusive $31 million party.

There were fireworks, celebrity guests, live concerts, and a nearly unlimited food and drink menu. We’re talking expensive bottles of Dom Pérignon, decadently cooked lobster (prepared by Michelin-star chefs), and endless mezze platters featuring everything from pita bread and hummus to chicken shawarma.

For the 2,000+ guests in attendance, this hotel’s opening was surely a night to remember. Although, considering how much vintage champagne was served, there are probably more than a few guests who have no memory of the 2008 Atlantic The Palm opening.

Why Is It So Expensive?

The catering, entertainment, and security costs required to make this party happen are the primary reason it was so expensive.

After all, having Kylie Minogue perform a live concert doesn’t come cheap (ask some of the people who’ve thrown the most expensive weddings), nor does hiring a team of Michelin-star chefs for the evening.

Another significant sum (about $3 million) went toward preparing the party’s firework display. Naturally, the hundreds of bottles of Dom Pérignon (about $370 per bottle) also added to the event’s bill.

Still, this 2008 celebration doesn’t hold a candle to the party thrown by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1971.

1. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s Persepolis Party (1971) – Up to $500 Million

Banquet-given-for-Shah's-Persepolis-Party-Oct-1971
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The most expensive party was Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s Persepolis Party of 1971. This three-day event cost up to $500 million. If the same party was held this year, it would cost up to $3 billion!

It’s challenging to know where to begin with this event, as it was excessively extravagant.

For starters, the Shah had an artificial oasis built at the foot of the ruins of Persepolis, complete with green grassy areas, a massive central fountain, and 50 pre-fabricated air-conditioned buildings (covered in tents for aesthetic purposes). These buildings took almost two years to design, build, and transport.

Shah Pahlavi also had thousands of plants and animals imported from Europe to make the party location more pleasing to guests. But creating a veritable Garden of Eden was just one of the jaw-dropping things Shah Pahlavi did to prepare for this party.

He also had a road network built to the party spot, making it easier to transport supplies and materials. These supplies included tons (literally) of champagne and wine, hundreds of thousands of eggs, and several kilograms of Iranian caviar.

Never before (or since) has anyone thrown a party quite like this one. But that’s probably a good thing, especially considering the event’s high cost and long-term effects.

Why Is It So Expensive?

There’s little wonder why was the Shah’s infamous Persepolis party was so expensive. After all, the Shah spared no expense to ensure that his guests’ every need and whim was catered to.

In addition to having 50 air-conditioned buildings transported to the ruins of Persepolis, Shah Pahlavi had an 18-hole golf course installed, imported 50,000 European songbirds, and had 30,000 flowers and trees from Europe planted around his artificial oasis.

Essentially, the Shah built a small-yet-ideal paradise for himself and his guests. He even built a private airfield and highway system to ensure all the things he ordered arrived at Persepolis more quickly!

The planning, construction, and infrastructure improvement required to pull this party off are typically only seen with large athletic events like the most expensive FIFA World Cups.

Of course, this massive party had more than just a monetary price. Because it was so over-the-top, the people of Iran (many living in extreme poverty) began to rebel against the Shah. This dissatisfaction with Shah Pahlavi’s rule eventually culminated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

What’s the Most Expensive Party of All Time?

The most expensive party ever thrown occurred in Iran in October 1961. It was thrown by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the then-ruler of Iran. The total price for this event is highly contested, with estimates ranging from about $16 million to $500 million.

It took the Shah more than a year to plan for the three-day party. And while the party’s guests likely enjoyed themselves, the public reception was less-than-stellar. This event is often credited with kickstarting the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Discover more about the world’s most expensive lifestyles! Check out these related articles now.

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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