On the stage of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room last night, James H. Herbert II, the founder and chief executive officer of First Republic Bank, recalled his first visit to the center.
“I grew up in Ohio, which is lovely but pretty remote,” he said. When he came to New York to work at Chase Manhattan Bank, a co-worker invited him to the ballet. “I said, ‘Sure, but what is ballet?’ That night completely changed my life.”
Herbert, who went on to become chairman of the San Francisco Ballet and a trustee at Lincoln Center, was being honored by the Manhattan cultural complex for his commitment to the arts.
“While many blend work in two different cities, Jim Herbert does something unheard of: He has become a critical civic asset in two cities,” said Stephen M. Ross, CEO of New York developer Related Cos. and First Republic’s landlord at the Time Warner Center.
The evening began at 6 p.m. with Herbert accepting greetings from art dealer Lucy Mitchell-Innes; Ira Akselrad, executive vice president and general counsel of Johnson Co.; and Xiaojing Li, general manager of Bank of China U.S.A. The event’s co-chairmen included General Atlantic CEO William E. Ford and H. Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman at Sullivan & Cromwell.
Dinner was butternut squash carpaccio, pan-roasted striped bass, falling lemon souffle and chocolate chip cookies passed on silver trays.
Nibblers included 15 of Lincoln Center’s 74 trustees, such as: Anna Nikolayevsky Benton, chief investment officer at Axel Capital Management LLC; Blair W. Effron, partner and co-founder of Centerview Partners LLP; Peter Malkin, chairman of Malkin Holdings LLC; Christopher Williams, chairman and CEO of Williams Capital Group LP; David Hunt, senior partner at McKinsey & Co.; and Laurie M. Tisch, founder of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.
After dinner, a program in Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series celebrated the music of George and Ira Gershwin. Couples seemed to get a little closer when Norm Lewis crooned “Embraceable You.”
“It’s a great date night,” said Charles Royce, president and CEO of Royce & Associates LLC.
Speaking of Lincoln Center, Herbert had the final word: “Everyday there are thousands of people having their worlds expanded here, in a way that you can never pull back, and that’s why it’s important to support it.”