At around 10 Monday night, Lady Gaga arrived in a glowing egg positioned on top of a cart filled with cakes and macaroons.
Escorted by brawny men in sleeveless Roman tunics, the cart rolled past hedge-fund founders Dan Och, David Einhorn, Steven A. Cohen, Ken Griffin, and more than 4,000 others gathered in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for the Robin Hood Foundation benefit.
Soon “the Gaga,” as emcee Brian Williams called her, emerged onstage wearing a cream outfit that exposed her midriff.
“I’d like to thank all the rich people for donating tonight,” she said. “And when I say rich, I mean rich in spirit.”
By the time she was serving up “Bad Romance,” the event had raised $47.4 million for the foundation, which helps New Yorkers in need.
Earlier, guests heard from Tony Bennett before confronting a medley of cold beef, chicken, kale and artichokes. And one guest had punched in the amount of $400,000 into a wireless device at his table to win a recording session with will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. There was also plenty of time for air-kissing and mingling.
Stand By Me
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. president Gary Cohn was photographed with model Gisele Bundchen who wore a sheer, black lace top with a vest in just the right places. Husband Tom Brady mingled with lesser masters of the universe.
Sarah Jessica Parker, dressed in what she described as “electric heliotrope,” dined with Harvey Weinstein, Naomi Watts, and Liev Schreiber.
Yet the mood seemed intentionally more subdued than in years past.
“I think this is a year full of challenges,” said David Saltzman, Robin Hood’s executive director, while standing under a large sign reading, “The Forces for Good Are Gathering.”
“In some ways people think the worst is behind us, and yet for poor people the worst is in front of us.”
Kid Rock captured the ambiance in a song he wrote for the occasion.
“I can’t change the world and make things fair,” the rocker sang as hundreds of servicemen and servicewomen filled the aisles of the dining room, “The least that I can do is care.”
‘Wired to Serve’
The foundation has a new program to help military veterans.
“They are wired to serve. What they need is a bridge,” Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with Tom Brokaw.
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have a much higher suicide rate than the general population or of veterans of past wars. They also have a higher homeless rate.
“We want to let people know that it’s okay to ask for help,” said Michael E. Thornton, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL and one of the five Medal of Honor recipients present.
The night had its moments of good old-fashioned Wall Street humor.
Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live,” referring to his stint two weeks ago speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, said, “How refreshing it is tonight to finally perform for the people who run the country.”
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog appeared in a video to give the crowd a ribbing.
“Your contributions are completely tax deductible,” said the acerbic puppet voiced and manned by Robert Smigel, “which might be of interest to you, if you actually paid taxes.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)