On May 25th, a group of twelve men will meet for a ritual that has been shrouded in secrecy since 1868. Like their fabulously wealthy predecessors, the men are titans from our New Gilded Age, and they guard their privacy zealously. Their institution, The Zodiac Club, has met for dinner six times each year, unimpeded by both World Wars, the Great Depression, the unrest of the '60s or the terrorist attacks on September 11th. We've obtained a rare glimpse inside their clandestine culinary club.
The Zodiac Club has done an admirable job of keeping their dinners and membership rolls under wraps. Breathless newspaper articles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries detail the spate of twelve-person private dining clubs formed by the titans of the Gilded Age. A book by Stephen Birmingham published in 1987, America's Secret Aristocracy, claims that J.P. Morgan founded the Zodiac Club.
I became aware of the Zodiac Club after I took a tour of the Morgan Library & Museum with William Voelkle, the Curator and Department Head of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. When we walked into a room that was once J.P. Morgan's private library, Voelkle pointed to the ceiling of the old library and noted the discordant arrangement of astrological signs.