Then-New York Times food critic Claiborne didn’t personally pay the $4,000 tab on his legendary meal at St. Denis in Paris; American Express did. The credit card company had donated a dinner for two at any restaurant that accepted the American Express card to a charity auction, and Claiborne won it with a $300 bid. Legend has it that the company expected the winner to run up a tab of as much as $500, and were staggered when the $4,000 bill came through. Even 32 years later, $4,000 is a lot ...

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