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New Yorkers were doing double takes on the west side on Friday when a mysterious billboard went up in Chelsea. Above a giant picture of an unnamed man in a lobster bib were the words, “Today’s my 40th and I am lonely. CALL ME,” followed by a New York cell phone number.
Turns out the billboard was an elaborate joke gift from Fanatics billionaire and 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin to his close friend, hospitality entrepreneur Will Makris.
Rubin revealed he was the prankster behind the ad by posting a shot of the billboard on Instagram with the caption: “Wanted to give my brother [Makris] a 40th bday present he’d never forget!!! This is an actual billboard on 26th and 11th in NYC…. thought he was feeling lonely today and needed a lot of love. Ps make sure everyone calls him so he doesn’t feel 40 and unloved!”
Makris is a hospitality exec behind the high-end hotspots Zero Bond and Lola Taverna downtown.
As soon as the signage went up, Makris’ phone was flooded with calls. “From [numbers] all over the world,” he told Page Six, “it’s crazy.”
He said he first learned of the Manhattan billboard when, “I woke up this morning, and I guess they were putting it up. People started sending pictures to me, being like, ‘Happy birthday, hope you’re not alone. Complete strangers.”
He said that the messages were “mostly nice,” with “a couple people with business opportunities.” Some tried to get to the sports apparel mogul behind the billboard, telling Makris, “Happy birthday, can you send this to Michael Rubin? Hope you’re not lonely now,” he said.
As far as having his phone number made pubic, the birthday boy was taking it all in good fun, telling us with a laugh, “You’re only 40 once… I’ll take the smile with the beating.” He added of his over-worked cell phone when we asked if he had a backup, “I’ve had this number for a long time, so I hope this will die down.”
Before Rubin revealed he was behind the billboard on Instagram, the only clue as to its origin were the words, “This ad is brought to you by Pancake Productions.” We hear Makris calls Rubin “pancake,” as it’s one of Rubin’s fave dishes.
Makris had been spotted last Sunday in Rubin and Robert Kraft’s private suite at the Super Bowl, along with Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Cardi B, Offset, Meek Mill, Aaron Judge and others.
He summed up of the billboard experience: “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
Zero Bond — which Makris co-heads with former nightlife king Scott Sartiano — is reopening this month.
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