Richie Akiva at his 46th birthday party.
Photo: Jocko Graves
“Kristen Stewart is coming,” a leather-clad publicist whispers to Richie Akiva. It’s almost 9 p.m. face of. Akiva knows many beautiful and famous people, and he will make sure to bring them here. Sure enough, an hour later, there’s Stewart, in the shade of a candle lit by a rooftop dome, smoking cigarettes and gossiping with pretty Little Liars actress Ashley Benson on her age Twilight co-stars. “Anything you need, just let me know,” Akiva tells Stewart. “Thank you so much for everything, Richie,” she replies.
Akiva He’s been an influential cowboy and professional male-spreading star for decades. This magazine put him and his entrepreneurial friends in the cover in 1998 under the title “Make Moves, Pop, Make Money” and wrote about them romping around the club with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, J.Lo, Mariah Carey, Mark Wahlberg and Mark Ronson. Over the years, Akiva has thrown birthday parties for Rihanna and Naomi Campbellruled over the most striking of the Met Gala after the party, and organized international events for the upper class everywhere from Southampton and Miami to Monaco and the Maldives. He owned Up & Down and Darby’s and, in particular, 1Oak, the Meatpacking mainstay. But the pandemic killed them all. Now, “Little Richie” is trying to outdo the VIP section of the nightclub, resurfacing in this new era capitalizing on what is Fashion: exclusive clubs for members. Sounds more adult for sure.
“We have worked very hard to get me out of the nightclub character. For so many years, I was the king of discos, nightclub entrepreneur, nightclub emperor. Disco, disco, disco”, he tells me she. I am now a hotelier. I am sophisticated. Never mind the fact that he is still recovering from being “fucked up” in the Box last night. the nedin the former NoMad Hotel, it’s the first American outpost of something that started at the members club’s happy London in 2017, owned by the same public company as Soho House (they have plans to open another Ned in Doha later this year and inside the New York Stock Exchange building in 2024). Akiva is the curator and creative director: the face.
“I don’t want to name names,” Akiva said earlier in the evening over dinner in the club’s lavish dining room, chatting with me in brief moments between phone calls and other seemingly urgent inquiries from stern-looking guys in suits. It is a brief moment of reservation. When a tight-fitting woman in a camel coat approaches him to recommend a girlfriend, Akiva replies, “I hope she’s of age. If you get me a wife, I’ll owe you forever. (Rumor has it that she once dated Rihanna and Heidi Klum.)
Then more phone calls and text messages. The first from his “counter”, although it is almost 11 at night, and the other directly or indirectly —it is not clear from what I was able to observe— from “Leo”. As in DiCaprio, a friend of Akiva’s at least since our cover story. It could be said that they refused to grow up together. He’s looking for a place to watch the UFC fight tonight, and Akiva is happy to oblige. But first, a little preparation. You have to clear a room. Someone has to find a TV. (“Take my car. Ask the people in the diner if they can tell whose black Porsche it is,” he tells one of his men.) Also, someone needs to figure out how Apple TV works or have access to cable TV. , and someone else should probably invite Kristen and Ashley to the viewing party. Eventually, Akiva comes off the roof without saying much goodbye. The same goes for the publicist, leaving me with another, younger publicist. According to a tablespoon from E! News, the party continued until 4 a.m., with Drake and Kevin Durant joining Kristen and Ashley. I was not invited
Akiva is bald now, but at one point, before he “grew old,” he says he was a long-haired skater who loved graffiti and hip-hop and spent his time in a much dirtier Tribeca. That’s what the journalist Nancy Jo Sales called it, in a previous one from 1996 cover story by New Yorka “high school gangster” or “private school students living the life of a wannabe gangster.”
“I was dating a lot of thugs. You know, kids from the street. New York City kids from all walks of life,” he says. Akiva’s mother died when he was 3 years old, but his father earned money importing sportswear. He attended Dwight on the Upper West Side, where he befriended the children of celebrities. liv tyler and Raphael DeNiro.
His gang of boys called themselves SKE, “See Know Evil”, even then known for their egos and parties at places like Lot 61 in Chelsea. One of SKE’s members was whiz kid fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti, whose brother, Mario, also became a photographer and introduced the kids to his model girlfriends, according to Akiva: “We were playing video games at Davide’s house and you’d see Kate and Linda and they all walk in, like, Hi Richie! Hi Davide!SKE also got into streetwear, selling T-shirts that read “Models Suck” under the Danucht label. Of course, they were joking, they were actually obsessed with models. Naomi I wore the shirt in Spike Lee’s girl 6and Akiva can’t wait to show me a picture of this on Instagram.
Davide Sorrenti, who is credited with helping usher in the “heroin chic” era, died of a blood condition complicated by drug use at age 20 in 1997. Akiva went to school at Northeastern University, and when he returned to the city, he became the “nightlife director” at two clubs that were popular at the time, Spa and Life. His two biggest accomplishments came when he was still in his 20s: first, he opened Butter restaurant in 2002 with chef Alex Guarnaschelli, as featured in OG Gossip Girland in 2007, he opened 1Oak nightclub, which over the years has played host to all the real-life icons (Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber are just two who have gotten into some problems there).
Akiva seems to think those days of velvet ropes and gate tough guys, “Like quarterbacks, running all the plays,” are over. “You can’t do that anymore because it’s just not over time. They’ll get you out of the closet or something. Are you prejudiced or racist or this or that,” he tells me, possibly annoyed with this era of “Safer space” policies Y aroused scrutiny. In fact, in 2013, Seduce published ten rules to get into 1Oak. Among them: “Reveal the body” and “Do not make eye contact”. Akiva won’t say anything negative or, for that matter, much of anything positive about his industry peers, but he will admit, “Nobody’s making it fun.” It seems to me the rare club kid of yesteryear who comes out and admits it to the young man: It was better back then.
So now is the time to double down on exclusivity; membership in Ned costs $5,000 a year plus a $1,500 initiation fee; Pricey, sure, but it’s unclear how exclusive given that’s what a studio apartment rental is these days. Since it opened in June, I’m told it’s drawn more than 700 members, new A$AP parents Rocky and Rihanna for date nights and parties hosted by Fashion, Puma, Dior, Kid Cudi and Kendall Jenner. Two nights after my dinner with Akiva, I received a last minute invitation for her own birthday. Although she told me she would probably celebrate with an intimate dinner or maybe a party in Paris during Fashion Week, when I arrived at midnight on Monday, after a rooftop dinner, the party was full of smoke, the sound of Jay-Z and a host of casually dressed A-listers mingling, including Kevin Durant, Drake, Lil Nas X, G-Eazy, Scott Disick in hoodies, and a rather puffy Leo. In the corner, a man groped a woman who looked like Courtney Love only to then sniff her fingers, lick his fingers, and return them to the fountain.
Drake at Akiva’s birthday party.
Photo: Jocko Graves
This celebrity debauchery puts Akiva in competition with his former business partner at 1Oak, Scott Sartiano, who has been attracting the same attention for his members-only club. Zero Bonuswhich opened in 2020. (In 2014, Sartiano sold his share of Butter Group to Akiva, but soon after, sued him for $15 million, claiming Akiva had “unreported income and underpaid him in the deal.”) according to new york Times.) Significantly, Zero Bond became a date night spot for Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, as well as the favorite drink of our “nightlife mayor.” Like the mayor, Akiva cashed in crypto this year and also launched Societya concierge service that requires the purchase of an exclusive $30,0000 NFT (like 2021!) for membership. That’s how he says he’ll share (with those who can afford it) the perks and pleasures: the restaurants, the parties, and the wine that tastes like Sassicaia for “half the price” (but shouldn’t this crowd be happy to pay the total? price for bragging rights to gobble up the real thing?) – of their “global lifestyle.”
But global or not, deep down, he’s a city boy. He sees Ned as a gift to his hometown. “That’s the only reason I do these things: New York,” he said. “I feel like New York needs me.”