Scene Last Night: Falcones, Marina Abramovic, Shaklee’s Barnett

Friends of the High Line
Lisa Maria Falcone, Friends of the High Line board member, speaks as Friends of the High Line co-founder Robert Hammond, board chairman John Alschuler, and co-founder Joshua David look on. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Standing on a black AstroTurf platform and in Dior black lace, Lisa Maria Falcone told 900 guests at the Friends of the High Line benefit, “Unfortunately, I have no surprises tonight.”

A board member of the elevated park and co-chairman -- with her husband, Philip Falcone -- of this year’s benefit, Falcone was alluding to a spontaneous $10 million gift she announced at the organization’s fundraiser two years ago.

She went on to thank guests for helping to create an urban oasis out of abandoned railroad tracks on Manhattan’s far West Side. The first section opened in 2009, and the second will open next month.

“How many people can say they’ve been part of building a park? You have,” she said.

The event honored the park’s architect, Diller Scofidio & Renfro; the High Line’s landscape designers, James Corner Field Operations; hotelier Andre Balazs; and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Managing Director Jennifer Padovani, who played a key role in initial fundraising.

“I happened to know a lot of Goldman Sachs guys and hedge-fund guys, and I said, ‘Let’s create a buzz,’” Padovani said. She organized a cocktail party with Edward Norton as the special guest, and the checks started pouring in.

Those who accepted the chance to walk a stretch of Section 2 included Donald Mullen, a Goldman executive and Friends of the High Line board member, accompanying artist Marina Abramovic.

“You know it’s very hard to get something meditative in a city like New York, and there it is,” Abramovic said. “You really can reflect and think.”

Lawn, Two Rivers

One element Mullen particularly liked was the lawn on the new section’s widest part, just below 23rd Street. It is 5,000 square feet and when you stand on it, you can see both the East River and the Hudson River.

“I love the concrete abutting the grass,” Mullen said, standing near it. “It’s a sculpture unto itself.”

Mullen was also charmed by the “flyover,” a metal walkway elevated over a densely planted landscape. On this evening, magnolia blossoms glistened with raindrops.

“It reminds me of walking through Costa Rica when you do the lines over the tree canopy,” he said.

Back on ground level, Mullen wondered where the bar was, as Mario Batali and others feasted on kale chips.

For dinner, the gala caterer Bite served up a family-style meal of 19 dishes, ranging from fresh burrata to Mallomar-style gourmet cookies with ancho caramel ganache.

After dessert, Harbinger Group Inc. Chairman Philip Falcone took photographs of his guests, including producer and rapper Swizz Beatz, as the after party, sponsored by the Calvin Klein collection, got under way.

American Ballet Theatre

After the American Ballet Theatre’s opening-night performance, guests at the company’s Spring Gala were ready to move.

Two dance floors flanked the dinner tent while the Hank Lane Orchestra played. The 1,100 guests included Daniel Ziff of Ziff Brothers Investments LLC and John Mahoney, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

John Loeb, a descendant of the founders of Lehman Brothers, twirled several women, including his fiancee, Sharon Handler, and writer Susan Fales-Hill.

Sloan Lindemann Barnett, wife of Shaklee Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Roger Barnett and one of the party’s chairmen, was temporarily halted when a waiter stood on her long hot-pink Dolce & Gabbana gown. With a pained expression, she tugged the dress free. In a moment she was bobbing to the orchestra’s cover of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I’ve Got a Feeling.”

In Barnett’s posse were Candace and Charles Nelson, the founders of Sprinkles Cupcakes, which just opened its first New York store. The former investment bankers turned bakers had donated their Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes for the goody bags. The event raised $1.75 million.

As she left the party, ABT dancer Melanie Hamrick, in a Carolina Herrera gown, still had a craving.

“Let’s go get some ice cream,” she told her boyfriend, fellow dancer Jose Manuel Carreno.

She explained that she was talking so much during dinner she’d had little chance to eat. She needed Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

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

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