While the wealthy reportedly talk behind closed doors about how the "unsophisticated" protesters, most have been careful to keep their disdain for the movement private. When bankers balked at restaurateur Mario Batali's comparison of them to Hitler and Stalin, they did so behind a very high paywall: Bloomberg's DINE GO, which Bloomberg restaurant critic Ryan Sutton described as "sort of like Yelp for Bloomberg clients." The actual Yelp pages for Batali's Babbo and Del Posto carry no complaints about his unwelcome remarks (though Del Posto has gotten a couple flame reviews in the last few days).
Danny Meyer, a Sotheby's board member, was extremely guarded after protesters dropped by his Union Square Cafe and Grammercy Tavern to make a ruckus about the Sotheby's union conflict. He declined to comment at the time, and when Grub Street asked him about it in person later, he was coy. "Anybody who comes into the restaurant is entitled to the extraordinary hospitality that our team gives, and they paid their own way, so they’re guests as far as I’m concerned," he said of the protesters. Similarly, The French Laundry owner Thomas Keller has declined any comment about protesters who stopped by his Yountville restaurant last week.
The New York Observer was on the scene at Sotheby's on Wednesday night, reporting that "of all the Occupy Wall Street stunts–even the march to the homes of millionaires–this protest was the only one that felt like it had the real rumblings of class war." Some patrons shielded their faces or averted their eyes as they hustled past protesters, eight of whom got arrested before the event was over. But not all:
“Shame on you!” the protesters shouted at the one percent. “Go home!” An older gentleman standing near The Observer gave an enthusiastic thumbs down accompanied by a resounding “booooo!” One man on the other side of The Observer gave the Sotheby’s clients the finger, only to have a curly, gray-haired buyer with a checkered scarf rise to the occasion with a French-accented, “Fuck you! Fuck you!”
Once inside, the gray-haired man stood behind the glass like a kid at the zoo, sticking out his tongue, mouthing obscenities, then zealously grasping an imaginary phallus, pumping it a few times into his mouth before he grew bored or realized there were cameras, at which point he walked toward the escalator that lead into the auction. “He’s in Sotheby’s a lot,” said one of the Teamsters who used to be art handlers at Sotheby’s before the auction house locked out its workers in August.
The behavior mirrors in real life what The Onion reported earlier this week in its story about bankers taking bets on which protester would be arrested first. Early on in the movement, some on Wall Street made a point of drinking champagne on their balcony as protesters marched by. They probably wouldn't do that anymore.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.