Leaders coming for power lunch

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Expect an African presi-dent and Eastern European leaders at an American banker’s 50th birthday bash in Queenstown this month.

The birthday boy is investment banker Marc Holtzman, who owns a $2.3 million house and adjoining vineyard at Gibbston.

According to the invitation, Rwandan president Paul Kagame, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, the current or former prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Tatarstan, Armenia and Georgia, a Polish European Parliament member, former New South Wales premier Bob Carr – who owns a Gibbston section – and local MP/Deputy Prime Minister Bill English all “request the pleasure of your company for brunch in honour of our friend Marc Holtzman”.

It’s at Arrowtown’s Mill-brook Resort, February 28.

A local source, who doesn’t want to be named, understands the foreign luminaries are all coming for the three-day party – “for key people, Marc’s hiring security”.

The source understands about 150 of the 200 or so guests will come from overseas, some on private jets.
According to website information, Holtzman is a non-executive vice-chairman of international investment bank Barclays Capital, a division of Barclays Bank.

Four years ago, he unsuccessfully contested the Republican nomination for governor of his home state Colorado. He forged ties with former US president Ronald Reagan and spent 10 years as a financier in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Gibbston-based fellow American Richard Allen, Reagan’s first national security adviser, says he encouraged Holtzman to buy here.

“My wife and I were informed by friends that Mr Holtzman, whom we have known since he was about 20 years old and have assisted over a span of years, is planning some type of party but personally know little about any event.

“We’ve had no contact with him for the past five years or so.”

In 2006 Mountain Scene reported a two-year $100,000 dispute between Holtzman and local builder Mark Dickson over work done on Holtzman’s Gibbston home. Dickson said at the time he’d been hit up by email for a donation to Holtzman’s governorship campaign the year before.

Holtzman explained the email went out by mistake – US election candidates can’t seek funds from outside their country.