Scene Last Night: Reynold Levy, Rubenstein, Koch, Lauder

Tap for Slideshow
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Jimmy Fallon.

Close
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Jimmy Fallon. Close

Jimmy Fallon.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Audra McDonald and Anne Hathaway talk with a guest. Close

Audra McDonald and Anne Hathaway talk with a guest.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Anne Harrison, Julian Robertson and Nancy Brinker. Close

Anne Harrison, Julian Robertson and Nancy Brinker.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

David Koch, Katherine Farley and David Rubenstein applaud the honoree Reynold Levy, president of Lincoln Center. Close

David Koch, Katherine Farley and David Rubenstein applaud the honoree Reynold Levy, president of Lincoln Center.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Reynold Levy, the president of Lincoln Center, third from left, poses with family: Eric and Emily Olney; his wife, Elizabeth Cooke in red; his sister, Joyce Yudelson, niece Sabrina Yudelson and son, Josh Levy. Close

Reynold Levy, the president of Lincoln Center, third from left, poses with family: Eric and Emily Olney; his wife,... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

J. Tomilson Hill of Blackstone Group LP, right. Close

J. Tomilson Hill of Blackstone Group LP, right.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gretchen Rubin, author of "The Happiness Project," Saul B. Shapiro, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, and Blair Effron, Centerview Partners LLC co-founder. Close

Gretchen Rubin, author of "The Happiness Project," Saul B. Shapiro, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP,... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Marcus Samuelsson on a break from serving lobster rolls at the cocktail reception with Carolyn Tisch Sussman and Lincoln Center board member Laurie Tisch. Close

Marcus Samuelsson on a break from serving lobster rolls at the cocktail reception with Carolyn Tisch Sussman and... Read More

“We have to stop. I just pulled that note out of the blue,” said Audra McDonald on stage last night at Avery Fisher Hall. “I’m so proud of myself. Yay, Juilliard!”

It was one of the best moments of a gala that raised a $9.4 million for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in tribute to departing President Reynold Levy.

The total included a surprise donation from the Lincoln Center board of $1.2 million to support a fellowship for business-school students to work at the performing-arts complex.

At dinner after McDonald’s concert, the 1,200 guests were treated to a clever riff by David Rubenstein, a vice chairman of Lincoln Center’s board, who compared Levy’s accomplishments to God’s in Genesis.

“In God’s case, there was no one he had to cajole, persuade, be nice to, negotiate with or get money from. He just did it,” Rubenstein said.

The co-founder of Carlyle Group LP also noted that God took a day off, whereas Levy hadn’t had a day off in 11 years.

Rubenstein praised Levy’s gift for getting 12 constituent organizations to agree to a plan for renovation, and to fund that plan in the face of a recession, then closed on a mock-solemn note.

“I’ve also thought he may have a higher calling,” Rubenstein said of Levy. “He might do well to decide to pursue an activity that is among the highest mankind has to offer: private equity.”

Donor Table

Rubenstein then returned to his seat at a sort of donor-hall-of-fame table, whose occupants included industrialist David H. Koch, hedge-fund manager Julian Robertson, cosmetics magnate Leonard Lauder, and three chairmen of Lincoln Center who have worked with Levy: Katherine Farley of Tishman Speyer Properties LP, Bruce Crawford of Omnicom Group Inc. (OMC), and Frank Bennack of Hearst Corp.

At other tables were Blair Effron of Centerview Partners LLC, J. Tomilson Hill of Blackstone Group LP (BX), Kelly Coffey of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Valentino Carlotti of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust, the private-wealth-management unit of Bank of America Corp. (BAC), who just joined Lincoln Center’s board and will be honored at a gala later this year.

Craigslist Song

Bennack said that his favorite part of any Lincoln Center gala is the “performance, always.” Guests talked about the concert: the number from “Porgy and Bess”; the beautiful “I’ll Be Here,” about losing a loved one on 9/11, by Adam Gwon; and Gabriel Kahane’s hilarious “Craigslistlieder,” composed of actual posts from the website Craigslist.

“I’m going to take that Craigslist bit -- we might do some bit on our show,” said Jimmy Fallon of his late-night program for NBC.

A few moments later, Fallon, actress Anne Hathaway and friends were on their way out, snapping their fingers and singing along to the Tony Bennett song being piped into the tent, “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Levy paused for five seconds to take a photograph with his family, before wandering off to thank another set of parting guests.

“The morning after, it feels like a very special event,” Levy said by telephone today. “I’ve listened to and given a lot of speeches, but I don’t think I’ve ever sat and listened to a speech that compared my accomplishment to that of God. Not since Mel Brooks has there been such a flight of imagination.”

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

Muse highlights include Katya Kazakina on the Frieze Art Fair, Greg Evans on TV.

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

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

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.