Scene Last Night: Blair, Stephanopoulos, Altman, Arnhold, Soros

Conservation International
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Perched on white bar stools, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and George Stephanopoulos, the anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” discussed the financial crisis in Greece, the Arab Spring and the environment.

“There are powerful reasons of energy security,” Blair said of his country’s investments in green technology. “Why wouldn’t you try to have a more stable and secure source of energy?”

The 15-minute interview was over before guests at the Conservation International gala last night had finished their summer corn custard. They included Evercore Partners Inc. founder Roger Altman, Continental Grain Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Fribourg, and Chairman Jack Hidary.

Blair then left the dinner, held in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History. Stephanopoulos stayed on to conduct interviews via Skype with Conservation International staffers in Brazil, Japan and Liberia.

The gala’s sponsors included Ann Ziff, jewelry designer and chairman of the Metropolitan Opera; Altman and his wife, Jurate Kazickas; and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which Blair serves as a senior adviser. The bank’s foundation recently gave $1 million to Conservation International to protect forests.

Peter Seligmann, the founder of Conservation International, also counts family members among the organization’s supporters, including his first cousin John Arnhold, chairman of First Eagle Investment Management LLC.

Seligmann is good at forging partnerships with the private sector, in part because he deploys language that appeals to executives.

“A healthy ecosystem needs all types of capital,” Seligmann said. “Intellectual, economic, and natural.”

Midsummer Night Swing

At Lincoln Center, Midsummer Night Swing kicked off with a party honoring the program’s longtime funders, Daisy Soros and her husband, Paul Soros, brother of George.

The festivities took place under a tent near the official Midsummer Night Swing dance floor, which will see thousands of people tango, swing and vogue to live bands through July 16.

So how is George Soros on the dance floor? “He’s not bad,” Daisy Soros said. “I mean, for a financier he does pretty good.”

Kenneth A. Buckfire, co-founder, CEO, and managing director of Miller Buckfire & Co. LLC was in attendance, as were Janice and Christopher Williams, co-founders of Williams Capital Group LP, and John Chachas, managing partner, Methuselah Capital Advisors LP.

(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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