July 9 (Bloomberg) -- George Soros, the billionaire investor, was auction bait Saturday night.
“See my dad in shorts,” said Alexander Soros, 26, as he solicited bids for a membership at Manhattan’s Sitaras Gym, where he and his father exercise.
He sounded like any guy making a joke at Dad’s expense -- although the vague promise of proximity in this case entailed a sweaty legend of finance and philanthropy.
The occasion was a party in Bridgehampton, New York, organized by the son under the auspices of his Alexander Soros Foundation, which underwrote the event’s costs. The beneficiary was Global Witness, whose staff of 65 investigates corruption and human-rights abuses related to natural resources. George Soros’s Open Society Foundations is a major funder of the organization, which is based in London with an office in Washington.
The younger Soros and his co-host, writer and director Edward Zwick, sold the gym package for $2,500. A lunch for four including economist Nouriel Roubini at Daniel Boulud’s DGBG also went for $2,500. A backstage visit with Justin Bieber commanded $10,000.
George Soros, 81, dressed in a plaid shirt and slacks, sat through the proceedings almost unnoticed. His son, wearing a crisp white Yves Saint Laurent suit, was the one guests knew or wanted to meet.
Many of the 340 or so people at the party were in their 20s and identified themselves as models, publicists, students or nightclub promoters. Also attending were actor Jeffrey Wright, founder of a mining company in Sierra Leone; Alex Karpovsky, of the HBO show “Girls” and the movie “Rubberneck”; economist Dambisa Moyo and designer Johan Lindeberg.
Down the road from a farm stand, on a field overlooking Mecox Bay, under a tent carpeted with black Astroturf, Alexander Soros talked about party planning.
“Cutting corners really annoys me,” he said. So he insisted on three courses and after-dinner treats. The menu included gazpacho, macaroni and cheese and Enlightened ice-cream pops made by Michael Shoretz, a former trainer at Sitaras Fitness.
On the day of the event, Soros fils skipped his workout and French practice while he fretted over who was coming and where they’d sit. Three years into a Ph.D. in late-modern European and intellectual history at the University of California Berkeley, he is considering a thesis about “Jews and Germans and nature in the long 19th century,” he said.
He’s striving not to be egg headed, making private-equity investments in Latin America overseen by a portfolio manager at Soros Brothers Investments LLC.
“The goal is just to be able to understand markets better,” he said.
He’s already pretty good at public speaking. A touching moment came when he introduced honoree Silas Siakor, who helped bring down despot Charles Taylor in Liberia.
Only when MC Hammer and a crew of dancers began performing his early 1990s hits -- including “Pray” and “Can’t Touch This” -- did Alexander Soros fade into the crowd.
On the dance floor, he ran into his mother, Susan Weber, founder and director of the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture.
“I’m very proud of him,” she had said earlier. “I’m a bit amazed.”
KKR & Co.’s Henry Kravis and his wife, economist Marie-Josee Kravis, had lunch at Pierre’s in Bridgehampton on Saturday, where the menu offered cold pea soup with mint for $16.
Sitting at the table by the front window, he wore a pink button-down with white stripes and navy shorts. She wore a long white blouse and ruffle-shaped, copper-colored earrings.
Henry Kravis had dropped her off in front of the restaurant before parking the car. On her way in, she said they had recently celebrated a grandson’s sixth birthday and had dinner with the artist Cindy Sherman.
Earlier in the day, Tom Tuft of Lazard Ltd. stopped in at the Starbucks down the street before a golf game.
Bridgehampton’s literary hot spot is located between Pierre’s and Starbucks, at the public library. Journalist and author Kati Marton, widow of statesman Richard Holbrooke, will be there Aug. 17 to speak about her new book, “Paris: A Love Story.”
“It’s a journal I kept January to January after Richard’s death,” Marton said at an event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. “It’s not a grief book. It’s about life after loss.”
They would meet in Paris “when he was in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said.
“It was really our escape. We walked, sat in cafes. We lived in a part of Paris where we’d never see anybody from here.”
(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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