Scene Last Night: Schwarzman, Peterson, Icahn, Morrison, Roth

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and chairman of the Blackstone Group, and his wife, Christine Schwarzman, near the library building column that bears his name.

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Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and chairman of the Blackstone Group, and his wife, Christine Schwarzman, near the library building column that bears his name. Close

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and chairman of the Blackstone Group, and his wife, Christine Schwarzman, near the... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The table decor by event designer David Monn and library trustee Gayfryd Steinberg brought garden chic inside the library. Tables were set up throughout the library's hallways and rooms, including the Dorot Jewish Division and the Map Division. The caterer was Glorious Food. Close

The table decor by event designer David Monn and library trustee Gayfryd Steinberg brought garden chic inside the... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Karen Barkey, a sociology professor at Columbia University, and Anthony Marx, the incoming president of the New York Public Library. Close

Karen Barkey, a sociology professor at Columbia University, and Anthony Marx, the incoming president of the New York Public Library.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Annette de la Renta, a library trustee, and Norman Foster, architect. Close

Annette de la Renta, a library trustee, and Norman Foster, architect.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Catherine Marron, chairman of the New York Public Library, with Barbara Walters, who served as the program's emcee. Close

Catherine Marron, chairman of the New York Public Library, with Barbara Walters, who served as the program's emcee.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Guests were handed their table assignments from an improvised card catalog at the entrance to the library. Close

Guests were handed their table assignments from an improvised card catalog at the entrance to the library.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Jonathan Franzen. Close

Jonathan Franzen.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library, and Philip Roth. Close

Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library, and Philip Roth.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, and Toni Morrison, a library trustee. Standing in between them, the incoming director of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Close

David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, and Toni Morrison, a library trustee. Standing in between them, the... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Abby Milstein, a library trustee; Howard Milstein; and Brian Moynihan, president and CEO of Bank of America. Close

Abby Milstein, a library trustee; Howard Milstein; and Brian Moynihan, president and CEO of Bank of America.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The Rose Reading Room was the setting for a rededication ceremony. Members of the Abyssinian Baptist Church Gospel Choir filled the center aisle while performing. Close

The Rose Reading Room was the setting for a rededication ceremony. Members of the Abyssinian Baptist Church Gospel... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gail and Carl Icahn. Close

Gail and Carl Icahn.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Sandra Priest Rose during the procession of trustees in the Rose Reading Room. Close

Sandra Priest Rose during the procession of trustees in the Rose Reading Room.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Chris Tomson, Vampire Weekend's drummer, and Megan Kennedy. Close

Chris Tomson, Vampire Weekend's drummer, and Megan Kennedy.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Authors Robert Caro and Ina Caro. Close

Authors Robert Caro and Ina Caro.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, and Mark Morris, dancer, choreographer and director. Close

Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, and Mark Morris, dancer, choreographer and director.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Paul Watling, Josh Ritter, Laura Barton, and Hannah Cabell. Close

Paul Watling, Josh Ritter, Laura Barton, and Hannah Cabell.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

A rain shower brought a LEGO lion inside Astor Hall for dancing to covers of Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas by the band the Hudson Project. Close

A rain shower brought a LEGO lion inside Astor Hall for dancing to covers of Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas by the... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Colum McCann and Philip Gourevitch with a stash of the new volume "Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100," to which they both contributed. McCann writes of seeing a copy of "Ulysses" by James Joyce at the library. A "tiny flake of a page" fell from the book when it was being put away. McCann "stared at it. And then I did what any heartsick lovesick booksick wordsick worldsick joycesick fool would do. I ate it." Close

Colum McCann and Philip Gourevitch with a stash of the new volume "Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Novelist Uzodinma Iweala. Close

Novelist Uzodinma Iweala.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, in a royal- blue tie that matched his wife’s dress, dined on lobster salad last night at the New York Public Library’s Centennial Gala.

The chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group LP (BX), who gave $100 million to the library in 2008, was seated at the head of a long table in the building named for him at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

Schwarzman’s company included architect Norman Foster, who is working on a major renovation of the 100-year-old building that will remove the stacks to make room for people; Blackstone co-founder Peter G. Peterson; and the incoming president of the library, Anthony W. Marx, who will begin serving July 1.

Dessert was a round of petit fours and long-stemmed strawberries, after which Schwarzman and his wife, Christine, walked down candle-lit steps to Astor Hall to dance.

Schwarzman, who has been living in France recently, said, “It’s wonderful to learn about new cultures and to be able to travel easily to so many countries.”

The couple lingered on the steps of the library, near the column where his name is carved in stone. William Close played ambient trance music on the earth harp, an instrument with strings stretching 250 feet across the façade of the library. There were also lions made out of LEGO blocks.

The evening had begun with a reception in the Trustees Room, where the Bank of America was honored for its support.

“I’m happy to say that all of my accounts are at Bank of America,” said Paul LeClerc, the outgoing president of the library. “Before the night is over, Toni Morrison will be a client too.” Nobel Prize winner Morrison chuckled from her seat next to former New York Mayor David Dinkins.

Bank of America

Brian Moynihan, the president and chief executive of Bank of America, was the event’s corporate chairman. His tablemates included Carl Icahn and his wife, Gail.

The celebration of the building’s centennial, which raised $2.4 million, was not only for financiers. Vampire Weekend’s drummer, Chris Tomson; singer/songwriter Josh Ritter; and a host of authors, from Colum McCann to Jonathan Franzen to Philip Roth, were present.

Jay Walder, the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, introduced himself to author Robert Caro. “I’ve inherited the legacy of Robert Moses. Your book has been such an inspiration over the years,” Walder said, referring to Caro’s “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.”

To ring in the centennial formally, the library held a program in the Rose Reading Room for 850 guests. Staten Island’s P.S. 22 Chorus sang John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir and New York City Gay Men’s Chorus also performed. There was a procession of trustees and then remarks.

‘The Best of Everything’

“What distinguishes the library,” said Morrison, “is that it has only the finest, the best, the best of everything.”

Novelist Uzodinma Iweala had a slightly more irreverent take on things. “As a result of spending so much time here, I’ve been on four dates with people I’ve met here,” he said.

Later, on the steps of the library, where guests had gathered to enjoy the new illumination of the building unveiled last night, Iweala elaborated.

“I was on my way out of the reading room, and she was walking in and our eyes caught.

“You can’t talk in the reading room, so I wrote her a little note and slipped it to her. I realized she was reading Norwegian but she understood,” he said.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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