BBC4’s excellent “Storville” series recently showed a film about “The 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire”, held by the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 12–16 October 1971 on the occasion of the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Imperial State of Iran and First Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.
Guests included over sixty of the world’s kings, queens and presidents, including such paragons of integrity as Mobutu Sese Seko and Nicolae Ceauşescu. The Queen was invited but Prince Philip and Princess Anne attended on her behalf.
A tent city was built at Persepolis to accommodate the guests. A film of the event was made, with Orson Welles as narrator. Maxim’s restaurant of Paris was the caterer.
There was a bit of wine, too.
An unverified menu includes Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 for the official toast (great Champagne vintage); Château Haut-Brion Blanc 1964 (terrible vintage for sweet white Bordeaux but the hot summer was good for reds and dry whites); Château Lafite Rothschild 1945 (an all-time great); Moët et Chandon 1911 (another great Champagne vintage, the best between 1874 and 1921); and Musigny Comte Georges de Vogüé 1945 (great – but how did they get enough of it for over sixty guests?).
Apparently the event might have cost more than $200 million.
The Shah paid an even greater price for this extravagance. He was overthrown in February 1979.