Rupert Murdoch hosted a charity benefit over the weekend in his North Hollywood apartment.
I was expecting a man of his wealth and power to have a nicer place in Los Angeles. He said keeping his living expenses down is the only reason he has stayed in business during the worst economy since the Dutch Tulip Bubble Burst in 1637.
We all agreed the Dutch Tulip Bubble Burst in 1637 was indeed a bleak time.
Rupert almost came to blows with Sumner Redstone after making a crack that Sumner had witnessed it first hand.
It’s fine to live in a crappy one bedroom apartment in the middle of one of the most crime-ridden, seedy neighborhoods in L.A. – but the cement block and plywood bookshelves were just too much to believe.
But we weren’t there for furniture, we were there for charity – and that was the important thing.
For many years, Rupert has been involved in the charity Moguls Find Lost Kittens (or M.I.L.K.). He started it after his son, Lachlan, lost his kitten, Joey, when he was 17 years old and wouldn’t stop crying, screaming and sucking his thumb.
Rupert vowed to find Joey and launched a charity in the process called Murdoch Finds Lost Kittens (also M.I.L.K.). (It was changed to “Moguls” after Jeffrey Immelt and Sumner Redstone heard about it and also wanted to get involved. Legend has it they both had traumatic childhoods that involved lost kittens.)
The party was okay. The food not bad. I didn’t realize it was BYOB so I had to bum a couple of beers from Sheryl Crow, who was the evening’s entertainment. There wasn’t room in the apartment for her band – so she just did a few songs on acoustic guitar.
After we all had some Doritos and cubes of cheddar cheese, Rupert stood in front of the crammed gathering in his living room. Most were sitting on the floor or the window sill. I got the couch because I had to put my foot up due to a flare up of my injured ankle.
Rupert waited for silence. Bob Iger was getting pretty drunk on the two bottles of 1997 Opus One that he brought [he didn’t share] and wouldn’t stop yakking about the Pirates of the Caribbean international box office. Okay, okay – it was good – shut the F up! You don’t hear me bragging about Manka Bros.’ successes.
When it was quiet, Sheryl Crow started to play softly on the guitar and Rupert held up a picture of a kitten: “This is Joey. In 1988, my son, Lachlan, lost this kitten and nearly committed suicide. I vowed on that day to find all the lost kittens of the world. It is a monumental task. A far bigger task than building a media empire. Everyone in this room knows how to do that. But we don’t know how to find all the lost kittens. Will you join me in this effort?”
Terry Semel and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner were completely overcome with emotion and inconsolable.
In fact, we were all visibly moved. And we all got out our checkbooks.
Rupert Murdoch is a great friend. And a great man.