By on May 15, 2019

Carlos Ghosn

Auditors attempting to assess how down and dirty Carlos Ghosn’s spending habits were have reportedly become very interested in a YouTube video of a party held at the Palace of Versailles in 2014. While the clip doesn’t showcase any cash-fueled orgies or golden idol worship, it does present a extravagant party that was supposedly paid for by Renault-Nissan B.V. (RNBV). As you might recall, Ghosn’s repeated arrests in Japan were due to the alleged “mismanagement” of alliance funds.

Ghosn’s camp maintains that the event was held for business purposes — a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the alliance, which just happened to overlap with the ousted exec’s 60th birthday. Guests reportedly included a few Renault or Nissan executives scattered among roughly 160 celebrity attendees. You can watch the video yourself and decide whether or not it’s an egregious mishandling of corporate assets. 


According to Automotive News, the auditor, Mazars, claims the party cost roughly 635,000 euros ($712,000 USD) and was financed entirely by the Dutch joint venture that controlled cross-alliance business. The main issue isn’t the party’s extravigence, but that it appears not terribly relevant to the automotive business.

From Automotive News:

The professionally produced video shows guests arriving at the palace of Versailles and strolling through a cordon of historical re-enactors. Inside the palace, they munch on canapes and pose for pictures with men and women in powdered wigs and period costumes. A string ensemble plays classical music in the hall of mirrors, while other musicians greet them in various chambers and bedrooms.

A tuxedoed Ghosn is shown greeting guests at a dining table that spans the length of a hallway. A troupe of dancers provides entertainment during the elaborately choreographed meal. The evening is capped off by a fireworks display.

Ghosn has repeatedly professed his innocence while awaiting trial in Japan, suggesting that this whole ordeal is nothing more than a witch hunt orchestrated by Nissan executives who wanted him removed from power. But auditors already say they’ve identified millions of euros in spending that may have been used for Ghosn’s personal affairs during his tenure as head of the alliance, including the party at Versailles.

While it’s understandable that not every child wants to have their birthday at McDonald’s, this alternative seems a little over the top. We can’t say with any certainty that anything other than the reenactment actors’ outfits are truly criminal, but it does raise some questions. For example, if this event took place in 2014, why are we only hearing of it now? We’d also like to hear Ghosn try and explain why he thought he was too good to have the staff at Chili’s sing to him on his birthday.

[Image: Nissan]

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19 Comments on “Versailles Party Video Makes Ghosn Look Like a 17th Century Monarch...”

  • avatar

    We hear about “government waste” all the time, but with the incredible level of scrutiny that public spending is constantly under, it PALES in comparison to this kind of corporate malfeasance. Nissan is a publicly traded company and executives have a fiduciary and legal duty not to piss away shareholders money on themselves. I have no sympathy for Ghosn who, by all reports, is a highly functioning narcissistic sociopath who treated everyone around him like they were chattel.

  • avatar

    Wow, that’s almost as wild as the parties in the Taco Bell commercials!

    By the way, 635,000 euros is not 712 million dollars.

  • avatar

    People aren’t even watching the fireworks.

    And the party looks too spread out. Little clusters and then huge empty spaces.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, it’s a pretty big place. Louie the fourteenth liked him some elbow room. Unlike Ghosn, Louie had the construction and finance records for Versailles destroyed and put his finance minister in jail so he wouldn’t talk about the cost.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Off with his head!
    You would think that some of these ‘master of the universe’ type CEO’s would have enough self awareness or intelligence to have learned from Dennis Kozlowski.

    And when we hear/read of auto executives complaining about unions, then remember all the money squandered on these types of events, private jets, bonuses that are not tied to performance, golden parachutes and ‘media events’ where the chosen get to hob knob with ‘celebrities’. None of which improve product or profits.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $4500 per guest… Maybe that included airfare and hotels? The fireworks show was probably half of the cost.

    I imagine a similar party would be just as costly in Hollywood or Vegas.

    And the headline is agregiously misleading. The 17th century characters were a handful of actors and musicians. Mr Ghosn is an observer like every other guest.

    As for whether this event is out of line with normal corporate behavior, I’m not qualified to say. My department’s annual party is potluck, and kids are welcome.

  • avatar

    Looks like your typical CEO shindig. Except the others wouldn’t have hired a company to record it. The cost is minor for a multi-billion dollar company, and a tax writeoff for business purposes. It’s not like they had A-list celebrities there – I didn’t recognize any.

    Ghosn may have been an egotistical dictator, but that’s not unusual in the auto industry. From Alfred Sloan at GM, through Lee Iacocca at Ford, then Chrysler, to Elon Musk at Tesla, giant egos are almost required for the CEO job.

    Bottom line, I’m still convinced Ghosn was done in by a Nissan executive/Japanese government putsch to prevent Nissan from merging with Renault as a minor partner and losing control of Japanese assets. The party complaint, and especially “hiding” deferred compensation, is just after-the-fact justification for the removal and arrest.

    • 0 avatar

      Lorenzo, I entirely agree with you. As one who has been a senior executive in global companies, and has associated with others who also were, I can confirm that recreation at senior management and other executive events is typically first-class, and that means expensive. The type of event portrayed in this video is in my view rather over-the-top, but it is far from unknown, and certainly not grounds for criminal charges.

      What I find a bit unusual about this event is that it’s being put on by an industrial company – generally, it’s financial services firms that seek to outdo each other in this arena.

      In any event, it’s clear that Nissan execs, led by the guy that Ghosn was about to fire, orchestrated the “putsch” that you refer to. And the guy that Ghosn was about to fire is presiding over a steady decline of Nissan’s business.

  • avatar

    Holy bleep that looks SWANK! I stopped watching half way through because I didn’t even feel worthy enough to watch the video, much less attend something like that.

    I bet his digs now are a bit less posh though.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    As punishment he should have to drive a Lincoln Versailles for the rest of his life.

  • avatar

    My 60th birthday party will look a lot like this! Though I’ll have more strippers.

  • avatar

    My first consulting gig in the IB world was working on the integration of Bankers Trust/Alex Brown into Deutsche Bank. We had a ‘NYC staff meeting’ in the Empire Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt for a couple thousand guests, followed by luxuriously catered dinners in a battery of surrounding meeting spaces. The purpose of the meeting? To sound the alarm about the hundred million dollars in unaccounted for integration costs. I’ve been to a few high net worth weddings, none of which had anything on a Deutsche Bank party held to discuss squandering money. I kept my Deutsche Bank email active as long as I could after I’d moved on to Morgan Stanley just for the invites. Without them, I probably never would have eaten at the Boat House in Central Park or drank my weight in Bombay Sapphire.

  • avatar

    As said previously, multi million dollar companies have budgets for this type of thing…and budgets must be spent. Nothing new here, totally a witch hunt.

  • avatar

    Party like it’s 1699.

  • avatar

    The issue is that the Japanese are some of the last people on the planet that expect the CEO to be a good steward of Company resources. This flies in the face of expectations for them.

    US: Avg CEO makes 350 times that of avg employee
    Japan: 67 times
    France: 104 times

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