BlackRock Inc. President Robert Kapito threw himself into his role as honoree at last night’s American Cancer Society Financial Services Cares Gala.
Kapito offered himself and his staff in auction packages bid on by 600 current and potential business partners at the Grand Hyatt.
A managing director at Morgan Stanley, acting on behalf of a group of colleagues, made the winning bid of $40,000 on a dinner at Rao’s in the company of Kapito and Eric Pellicciaro, BlackRock’s head of global rates.
A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner snapped up for $100,000 a candlelit dinner for eight prepared by Kapito, described in the gala catalog as “BlackRock’s world-renowned chef.”
The wine steward will be Stuart Spodek, a BlackRock managing director, and the waiters -- Jack Hattem, Ron Sion and Akiva Dickstein -- are also from the firm
So what does Kapito plan to prepare?
“Tuna fish ... Just kidding,” he said.
“It will be five courses, probably lamb chops. A good dinner,” he added. “I cook for a lot of people. Food is love.”
In an interview during the cocktail reception, where sushi and sliders were served, Kapito said he has been “working on cancer issues for a very long time.” His wife, Ellen, is an oncology nurse.
Outside of the American Cancer Society, Kapito is president of Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund, which provides pediatric oncology patients at Columbia University Medical Center with acupuncture, massage and visits from clowns, to help them get through treatment.
‘Someone Needs To’
“I do it because someone needs to,” Kapito said after greeting former colleague Keith Anderson, who is now chief investment officer for Soros Fund Management LLC. “Tonight I want to set the example that it’s not that hard.”
The event had another dedicated leader in its chairman, John Thiel, head of U.S. wealth management at Merrill Lynch & Co., who served as emcee and came to the aid of a Christie’s auctioneer to drive up bids.
“God has blessed me very abundantly and I want to share my good fortune with the people who have less,” Thiel said in an interview.
Kapito’s generosity continued into the final moments of the night, during a round of pledging on hand-held electronic devices. The goal was $250,000, with the amount raised being updated on large screens in front of the room.
Kapito came to the lectern when the tally was $160,918.
“Let’s clear that up back there,” he said in reference to the screens. “Ellen and I will make up the difference.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)