Lloyd C. Blankfein nuzzled his beard against the cheeks of two ladies last night, Dina Powell, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)’s head of corporate engagement, and Liz Robbins, a Democratic lobbyist.
“I was proving to women everywhere that it’s really soft, not coarse,” said Blankfein, 58, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets.
At the nightclub Hudson Terrace, Blankfein was attending the first big fundraiser for Team Rubicon, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit founded three years ago to deploy military veterans to respond to disasters. Last year it started with 700 veterans and ended with 7,000, who as volunteers went on 25 missions in the U.S. and abroad.
Blankfein and his wife, Laura, joined Team Rubicon in the Rockaways after superstorm Sandy.
“We believe in service, and we believe in veterans,” Blankfein said. “I think everybody on Wall Street agrees, especially those who haven’t served in the military. This is doing the right thing.”
The goal of the event was to build a donor base on Wall Street, said Team Rubicon board member Charles Macintosh, a managing director at Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc.
Macintosh served on the host committee for the event with Adam Yarnold, a managing director at Barclays Plc (BARC) and former Army ranger who is also a Team Rubicon board member, Charles Sorrentino, managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and others who recruited friends to recruit friends.
“It was ‘3 GO, 1 GO’ all day,” said Michael Corsi, a director at RBC Capital Markets LLC, referring to the keypad command that forwards a message on the Bloomberg Professional service.
About 300 tickets were sold, bringing in $100,000. The venue and catering by Convivium Catering were donated, arranged by Michael Sinensky, co-owner of Hudson Terrace.
In the live auction, Brendan Garvey, co-chief investment officer of Cerberus Mortgage Capital Inc., spent $17,500 on a UFC martial-bouts package. Laura Blankfein raised her hand to make a $10,000 donation.
In the Rockaways, the Blankfeins said they helped empty out the basement of an elderly Orthodox Jewish couple. Lloyd found a box, giving it to his wife and Powell to look through.
Inside was the couple’s wedding album. They took out every picture to dry off. It was just a few days before the couple’s wedding anniversary.
“It was really one of the most touching moments of my life,” Laura Blankfein said.
The Blankfeins’ 30th wedding anniversary is in June. She’s been looking for their wedding album so she can bring a photograph to the wedding of their eldest son, Alex, later this month in Miami. Alex Blankfein is in his second year at Harvard Business School and headed to Bain.
Another young man Laura Blankfein cares about is the president of Team Rubicon, Jacob Wood. “I think he’s one of the most amazing people,” she said. “I was crushed when he told me he was engaged,” she said, acknowledging his good looks.
Mary Solomon, wife of Goldman Sachs co-head of investment banking David Solomon, is also an admirer.
“Volunteering after Sandy, I was awed by everything I saw,” she said.
Blankfein introduced Wood to his Harvard classmate Dick Cashin, founder of One Equity Partners LLC, and got them talking about their college sports: Wood played football for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, Cashin rowed crew.
They stood near a spotlight embedded in the floor. Wood put his foot over it. Blankfein joked they should send some Morse code messages.
“In college, he was fat with big curly hair, and he was very funny,” Cashin said.
“I was not fat. I did have curly hair,” Blankfein said.
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