James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive officer, apologized last night for his crooked bow-tie. His wife was out of town and he had to tie it on his own, he told 650 guests at the Japan Society 2011 Annual Dinner.
Gorman was wearing the perfect cufflinks for the event at the Waldorf Astoria: ovals displaying the Japanese flag on one side, the American flag on the other.
The bilateral accessories go well with the recent deal in which Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. agreed to convert its preferred shares in Morgan Stanley to a 22 percent common equity stake.
“It’s a model of things to come,” Gorman said of the transaction completed last month.
The American and Japanese executives in the room, among them Masaaki Tanaka, CEO for the Americas of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., nodded in assent as they dug into tuna rolls, edamame, and filet of beef.
Cross-cultural exchanges in the arts, sports and philanthropy were also celebrated.
Singer/songwriter Akiko Yano played a grand piano as she sang George Gershwin in English and a jazzy tune in Japanese. She’ll be performing at Japan Society’s midtown-Manhattan home on Friday, June 3.
Former major league baseball player and manager Bobby Valentine, now an ESPN commentator, accepted the Japan Society Award.
“I’m the only guy to manage teams in the American, National and Pacific leagues,” he said of his tenure with the Texas Rangers, the New York Mets and the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. “I’m also the only guy to be fired in the American, National and Pacific leagues.”
On a philanthropic note, the Japan Society President Motoatsu Sakurai gave an update on the society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Since March 12, 18,000 donors have contributed $7.8 million to help nonprofit agencies in Japan.
The Japan Society was founded in 1907 to foster cultural understanding between Japan and the U.S. The society’s chairman is Wilbur Ross, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of WL Ross & Co. Board members include Citigroup Inc.’s Alan S. MacDonald and Carlyle Group’s Jonathan E. Colby. The event raised $1.5 million.
At the Highline Stages club late last night, the Whitney Art Party’s guests were checking each other out or looking upward to catch a glimpse of 6-foot-10 party co-chairman Amar’e Stoudemire, a New York Knicks player.
Curator Scott Rothkopf was focused on a big screen where a computer simulation of the new downtown site of the Whitney Museum of American Art was playing. The party began just hours after the official groundbreaking.
“We have 13,000 square feet of terraces that face the High Line,” Rothkopf said as a camera panned through a virtual reality filled with art from the museum’s collection.
Associate curator Dana Miller picked the art for the simulation, which includes a George Segal in one of the outdoor galleries and in the lobby Glenn Ligon’s “Ruckenfigur” (2009), a neon sign spelling “America.”
It was a fun task, she said, because she got to choose without regard to technical concerns like size or weight.
What will be displayed when the museum is scheduled to open in 2015 has yet to be decided.
“We’re just starting to talk about it,” Miller said over loud music.
“We have to be bold, radical and revisionist,” Rothkopf added. “We want to show masterpieces in a surprising context.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)