We’re all paying for a party we weren’t even invited to

BAUGUR-day-2006-01(Editorial comment from IceNews) In one of those all-too-rare blissful moments of unthinking peace, I took to scanning the bookshelves here at IceNews Towers for a few moments this morning. My fingers nimbly sought out the book which presumably felt the most interesting. A souvenir photo book from Baugur Day 2006. IceNews did not go, so I have no idea how we ended up with the souvenir.

We didn’t go; but boy, do we wish we had. Looks like it was quite a day. The word ‘lavish’ doesn’t quite do it justice – I mean how much must it have cost to hire out Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli for the day in its entirety…for a private party with just 150 invited executives?

Fully operational, the park was fully manned and ready to allow the stressed execs let off steam by rollercoasting to their hearts’ content and shooting as many fluffy frogs as they could ever wish to. In fact, the park was slightly more than fully manned: there was a special staff member for the day.

Anyone who has ever been on an office day out will know that they are rarely just for fun – the bosses insist on at least a few moments’ focus on business: no matter if they call it “teambuilding”, “corporate crap” or “the inspiration” (as Baugur did).

Here’s a question: how much does it cost to hire Bill Clinton as a theme park entertainer? Impossible to know, but put the figure at USD 100,000 per speech in the USA (in 2001). Add to that five years, private travel to and from Denmark, accommodation and a likely full day’s “wages” for his trouble and the figure for importing him to the Baugur party was probably much, much higher.

Whatever the exact figure, it was certainly a lot of money spent on a day of pure indulgence for the managers of a company whose raison d’être seemed to be to suck money out of more-than-willing Icelandic banks and blow it on over-priced assets, huge salaries and even bigger parties.

As has been repeated so many times since October here in Iceland, “the party’s over, the lights are on and people are going home”. But who paid for the party?

Everybody in Iceland knows the answer to that. We all did.

Not that we have any proof any more – I mean trying to find a photo of Clinton and Jon Asgeir Johannesson together on Google proved simply impossible this morning. Back in 2006/07 the web was awash with such images. It almost seems like somebody has been going round erasing evidence of something. Shame, perhaps?

“We look forward to seeing you again next year!” the souvenir photo album proudly promises on the last page.

It really is a lovely looking book, you’ll have to take my word for it. Very classy indeed. Really inspires trust in the unstoppable Baugur machine.

(The book itself is not online, but this (.pdf) from the time has some photos and makes for fascinating reading. The astonishingly generous GBP 14,800 donation to the Kopavogur school marching band is just one such highlight.)

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