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The cocktail hour, at which the dinner guests in black tie sampled dozens of cigar brands, featured Dom Perignon 1996. The first course, a black bass wrapped in phyllo with a lemon thyme sauce, was paired with a Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la garenne Duc de Magenta 2003. The main course, a filet mignon served with morels, polenta, asparagus and springtime ramps, was matched by a superb first-growth Bordeaux, the 1995 Château Mouton-Rothschild. Sublime Hennessy Paradis Extra Cognac completed the night.

The General Cigar Co. folks, standing, from left: Cooper Gardiner, Keith Sparacio, Michael Giannini, Dave Bullock, Sherwin Seltzer. Seated, from left: Whit Beebe, Victoria McKee, Bill Chilian, Benji Menendez, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo.
The cigar stars in attendance included Cooper Gardiner, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Benjamin Menendez, Sherwin Seltzer, Whit Bebe, Mike Giannini, Bill Chilian and Victoria McKee of General Cigar Co.; Carlos Fuente Jr. and Wayne Suarez of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.; Jose Orlando Padrón and Jorge Padrón, makers of Padrón Cigars; Robert Levin of Ashton; Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana; Tim Ozgener, Aylin Ozgener and Mike Conder of C.A.O. International Inc.; Peter Baenninger of Davidoff of Geneva; Julio and Christian Eiroa of Camacho Cigars; Eric Newman of J.C. Newman Cigar Co.; Charlie Toraño of Toraño Cigars; Ernesto Padilla of Padilla Cigars; Peter Arnell of Zino Platinum; Daniel Miranda of Miami Cigar & Co., Tom Bendheim and Les Mann of the Colibri Group Inc.; Matt Arcella owner of the Davidoff stores in Las Vegas; and Stan Shuster, owner of the Grand Havana Rooms in New York City and Beverly Hills.

Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani enjoys one of the evening's many fine cigars.
As the meal drew to a close, diners were handed a Humidipak with three special cigars inside--Cigar Aficionado's No. 1, 2 and 3 cigars of the year. No. 1 was a Fuente Fuente OpusX Double Corona, No. 3 was a Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo, and the other smoke was an unbanded robusto with a dark, oily wrapper.

Tim Ozgener of C.A.O (left) shares a laugh with Dominic Chianese of "The Sopranos."
The heart of the dinner revolved around an auction donated by many in attendance, including rare cigars such as custom-made Padróns ($28,000), Partagas 150 Signature Series (which went to Gandolfini for $10,000), La Aurora 100 Años ($18,000), a lot including the soon-to-be released Ashton Estate Sun Grown ($25,000) and a special collection of Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars, including a bespoke presentation of 95 Double Coronas, Cigar Aficionado's 2006 Cigar of the Year ($33,000).

Cigar retailer Bruce Goldstein (far left) shares a smoke and a cocktail, with from left, cigarmakers Jose O. Padrón, Jorge Padrón, Litto Gomez and Charlie Toraño.
There was a rare Daniel Marshall humidor signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ($14,000), vacations in some of the world's finest resorts, including the Four Seasons Resort in Maui ($24,000), Anguilla's Cap Juluca, and Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, Mexico ($36,000).

Rare wines included a collection of 2003 Bordeaux, Joseph Phelps Insignia ($18,000) and a glorious, rare 1961 Château Pétrus Imperial, which went for $80,000. There was a five-hour trip on a NetJets Gulfstream IV ($50,000), a Caribbean voyage on a 141-foot luxury yacht ($80,000) and a Cadillac Escalade ($64,000).

Standing, from left: Stan Shuster, Wayne Suarez, Matthew Lubart, Barry Stern, Bruce Goldstein, Tom Bendheim, Les Mann and Carlos Fuente Jr. Seated, from right: Roberta Waldman, Suzanne Levin and Robert Levin.
The final auction lot in each Night to Remember is Marvin's Mystery Box, a unique Elie Bleu Humidor decorated with genuine Cuban cigar bands. Inside was a treasure trove of special gifts, including a guaranteed winning ticket for the Super Bowl (a bet made on each team) and many other prizes. That, coupled with a walk-on role on the show "24," went for $175,000 to Jamie B. Coulter, chairman and CEO of Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Inc.

For a full report on The Night to Remember, with details of each auction lot and many more photos, see the upcoming Cigar Aficionado.

Photos by Thos Robinson and Fernando Leon/ Getty Images

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