Mike Novogratz’s wrestling days at Princeton prepared him well for the rough-and-tumble world of Wall Street.
“Wrestling’s a very tough sport,” investment banker Andy Rosen, who met Novogratz in college, told The Post. “When you are on the mat it’s just you. There are no excuses, no way out. Mike loves the fight. He also loves a party. I don’t see him going down again because he’s having too much fun now.”
Mike, a cryptocurrency billionaire who’s almost as well known for his splashy summer parties as he is for his colorful career on Wall Street, certainly seemed to be having fun at his over-the-top bash on Aug. 1.
“A little fire in the belly, let’s go!” Mike, the CEO of Galaxy Investment Partners, yelled before gulping a Fireball whisky shot from an ice luge.
Mermaids, aerialists, stilt-walkers and hot-dog eating champ Joey Chestnut all played into the Coney Island-meets-Atlantic City boardwalk theme. Neon lights spelled out “Novopark” on the grounds of Mike’s Hamptons horse farm, next to his lavish hilltop estate.
As the 56-year-old host strolled the grounds in a metallic blazer with no shirt underneath — only dramatically painted-on abs — buzzy British singer Yola performed. So did Miley Cyrus, who Mike paid a reported $1 million and flew in by private jet.
It wasn’t exactly John F. Kennedy partying with the Rat Pack, but then again it wasn’t so far off.
Mike is one of seven siblings, all of whom are accomplished, photogenic and power players in their fields — which often involve a philanthropic, public-service element. Like the Kennedys, but minus the politics and the sailing, the Novogratzes are ambitious, close-knit and driven by their parents.
The comparison comes up a lot.
Even when Mike and his siblings were young and living in Heidelberg, Germany, where their dad was stationed in the military, they were always compared to that famous family.
“Nice family. Reminded our family of the Kennedys,” said a Novogratz friend from Heidelberg. “So many of them, all good-looking.”
In this analogy, Mike would be their JFK: Ivy League-educated, sporty, magnetic, loving the limelight and close with his big family.
Instead of Camelot politics, Mike became a success — then a failure, then a success again — on Wall Street. But it could have gone another way. As he recalled to the New Yorker in 2018, growing up, his mother “told everyone I was going to be a senator.”
“They’re the kind of people you think don’t exist because it seems like a lot they touch turns to gold,” a friend who has known all the Novogratzes for more than 30 years told The Post. “They’re flawed and they have their ups and downs like everyone else, but the planets do seem to align for all of them in many ways.”
Key to the family’s success is their patriarch, Robert Sr., who seems to hold as much influence over them as Joe Kennedy did over his own clan.
Now 84, Robert Sr. was a football star at West Point who won the esteemed Knute Rockne athletic award in 1958. He served in the Army for 30 years, retiring as a colonel. Along with his wife of 61 years, Barbara, 80, he moved his brood 18 times in 12 years while he served three terms of duty, one in Korea and two in Vietnam.
One report said that “Pops” required his kids to rise at 6 a.m. every day, even on weekends.
“The parents expected great things from their kids and they still do,” Rosen said. “Family events are monumental to them. No matter how successful all those kids are, they still care about what their parents think.”
Mike’s brother, Robert Jr., and his wife, Cortney, named the youngest of their seven kids Major after one of Robert Sr.’s military ranks.
Barbara Novogratz told The Post from her home in Virginia, grandchildren shrieking in the background, that she’s aware of the Kennedy comparison but shies away from it.
“I love the Kennedys, don’t get me wrong,” Barbara said. “But, you know, the [Kennedy] kids came from a lot of money. They had a lot of advantages. Our kids come from an Army family. It’s true we’re all very close … They’re just a nice group of kids who love their families.”
Robert Jr., who goes by Bob, and Cortney are perhaps the most well-known of the Novogratz bunch, thanks to their TV career: Along with their telegenic children, now ranging in age from 12 to 23 and including two sets of fraternal twins, they starred in the Bravo reality show “9 By Design” and HGTV’s “Home by Novogratz.”
The duo have gut-renovated and flipped homes in New York and LA for more than 20 years. In 2015 they moved to a 1926 home called “the Castle” in the Hollywood Hills. They bought it for $3.25 million and sold it for $12 million in 2018 after renovating it. Currently they’re overhauling an iconic pink townhouse at 114 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village that they bought in 2019 for $8.5 million.
Their oldest child, Wolfgang, 24, left a promising high school basketball career to become an actor and has been in six movies since 2018.
Son Breaker, 20, and named for the 1980 Australian film “Breaker Morant” (about “a real renaissance guy, a poet who would break the wild horses,” Cortney has said) is touring the country with his band this summer.
One downtown mom called the social media accounts of Bob, Cortney and their kids the “guilty pleasure” of her social set. “People are always checking their Instagrams to see what incredible new thing or place they’re up to today.”
They detail their lives in New York, in St. Tropez, at their getaway in the Berkshires — where they weathered the pandemic — and their palatial beach digs in Trancoso, Brazil.
“You want to hate them but they’re pretty nice people,” said another downtowner whose children went to school with some of the kids.
Among Robert Sr. and Barbara’s other accomplished, Kennedy-esque children is Jacqueline Novogratz, 61, the founder and CEO of Acumen, a non-profit global venture capital fund investing in startups that helps the world’s poorest communities. She is married to Chris Anderson, who runs the TED Talks organization.
Her 2020 book “Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World” is opposite in personality, many say, to her high-octane brother Mike. But she told the Wall Street Journal that he’s a fixed member of her “kitchen cabinet.”
“We would have these big debates, with him saying that the key was to make a lot of money and then give back to the world, and I’d say it was to just start giving to the world,” Jacqueline said.
One brother, John, 47, is a principal at Millennium, a global alternative investment firm, and another, 43-year-old Matt, is a co-founder of Candy Digital, a tech firm that teamed with Major League Baseball to buy, trade and share officially licensed baseball content NFTs.
There is also Elizabeth, 49, who runs The Well Daily — a wellness newsletter — along with Mike’s wife, Sukey. Sister Amy, 45, recovered from a brain tumor about 10 years ago and founded a Netherlands-based sustainable seafood fund, Aqua-Spark, that includes 19 portfolio companies valued at $180 million.
But the flashiest of the high-achieving siblings, sources agree, is Mike.
A self-made billionaire, he was a top wrestler at Princeton and briefly a helicopter pilot with the National Guard. His Wall Street career includes time at Goldman Sachs and the Fortress Group, but he crashed and burned through at least two fortunes before betting big on Bitcoin.
He calls himself the “Forrest Gump” of Bitcoin because he was in the right place at the right time, a longtime friend told The Post. Crypto was taking off “and Mike had the balls to run with it.”
He met his wife, Sukey Cáceres, whose parents come from Puerto Rico, on a blind date when he was 25, and they now have four kids, ranging in age from 18 to 25. All were in attendance at Dad’s big party last week: Sons Nacho and Chris, respectively, dressed as a French sailor and in a toga, and daughters Gabriela and Anna danced with other guests on the headphones-only dance floor.
The wildly extravagant bash “was par for the course with Mike and more than worth it,” said old friend Rosen.
But, according to several sources, the party animal also has a philanthropic side. He’s chairman of the Hudson River Park Friends and his family foundation focuses on criminal justice reform.
Mel Carter grew up in a poor neighborhood in Flatbush and overcame considerable odds, he said, to become a senior vice-president at Republic Records. Mike became his financial mentor in 2018 after they met — where else? — at a party.
“Once a month he sits down with me and says, ‘This is what you should invest in, this is what you shouldn’t,’” Carter told The Post. “For people like me, from the ‘hood [and] without a lot of education, we don’t always make the best financial investments. Mike was so good that I started linking him up with rappers and we go live on Instagram every month going over this stuff. He is an amazing dude.”
A dude not afraid to administer a metaphorical chokehold — not unlike how the Kennedys exerted their own form of pressure to succeed.
“Don’t kid yourself — Wall Street is filled with guys like him,” said one person who knows Mike from the Goldman Sachs days. “You either have your quiet geeks who get by with their brains, or you have your alpha athletes or military guys like Novogratz who run down anyone in their way. You gotta be like that. Novogratz goes long and loud on crypto everywhere he can and he moves markets. That’s how you play the game.”