Absolute Magazine: Papamarkou's Wellner has become the Go-To Money Man for the Old Guard Social Set


FOR LOVE AND PROFIT Wellner's firm helps manage the nest eggs ($1 million to $500 million) of Princes Charles and Rainier, King Constantine of Greece, and assorted Murdochs. But his white-glove service can mean brokering everything from theatre tickets to romantic matches, to go along with stocks and bonds. "They understand their clients' wishes, whether investment-related or purely personal," says Prince Pavlos of Greece, who met his wife, the duty-free heiress Marie-Chantal Miller, through the firm's legendary founder, the late Alecko Papamarkou. As for theater tickets, as Wellner points out, "Some of our clients could buy the theater with what they make in a good year."

ROYAL FLUSH The guest list at a client dinner at Harry's Bar in London, held during the Olympics, read like the Social Register- heavy with Bloomingdales, Lauders, Safras, and Gettys. But the real excitement centered on the TV Wellner had thoughtfully set up for sports-loving guests, including King Constantine and his son Prince Nicholas. When the Greeks unexpectedly bested the French in soccer, the Hellenic royals broke into cheers, and King Juan Carlos of Spain called to offer congratulations.

FAMILY TIES Fluent in five languages, the Swedish-born Wellner comes from a prominent Estonian family and is something of an aristocrat himself. When he took over at Papamarkou two years ago, recalls his wife, the newscaster Deborah Norville, "I think he was pleasantly surprised to find that so many of the firm's clients are people we were friendly with socially." The couple met on a blind date in 1985- "I knew immediately she was the one," Wellner says. Now they and their three children split their time between the Upper East Side and Long Island's North Shore.

MEMBERSHIP HAS ITS PRIVILAGES Papamarkou is a bit like a private club; plenty of would-be investors are turned away. "It's a personality issue," Wellner explains. "Not everyone clicks." That said, pedigree isn't a prerequisite: "We don't exclude based on social standing," Wellner says with a smile. "We're not a co-op board."

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Sunday, June 5, 2005