At New York City Ballet’s fall gala last night, billionaire David Koch talked about his support of Mitt Romney.
“The best thing he can do is do really well in the debates, he has had enough practice,” Koch said in a custom-made burgundy-colored velvet jacket by the House of Maurizio.
The question he’d like the candidates to answer: “‘What can be done to balance the budget?’ It’s absolutely terrifying. We know with mathematical certainty that without mass reduction in federal spending we’ll go the way of Greece.”
As he spoke, a guest approached. “Thank you for what you do for this country. God bless,” said the man in a tuxedo.
Koch continued on his train of thought. “I think Romney will be a lot better at bringing the deficit under control. Otherwise the country will crash into bankruptcy,” he said.
Koch, a major donor to the Romney campaign, has a net estimated worth of $38 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
He put up $100 million to renovate New York City Ballet’s theater at Lincoln Center, which is named after him.
“I’ve been coming here to see the ballet since the 1960s,” Koch, 72, said. “When I had the opportunity to put up the money to renovate, it was in my sweet spot. I love being a philanthropist. I like to do things that help lots of people.”
He said he’s on a dozen medical boards and likes to be able to help friends find the right doctor or treatment when they become ill.
A more cheerful subject: the Burmese rubies his wife was wearing, made by Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. They were in paisley shaped earrings with diamonds and pearls.
“My husband gave me a ruby necklace and I wanted something more creative,” Julia Koch said of the rubies’ origins.
Koch also discussed his taste in alcohol. His preferred cocktail is a vodka and tonic but he found himself holding his and his wife’s glasses of champagne at one point during the party.
“I’m not a big champagne drinker. I like very fine wine,” he said. “Red Burgundy, red Bordeaux and white Burgundy.”
Then he hoisted his champagne glass before joining his wife: “Here’s to you!”
The event raised $3 million for the ballet, which had operating expenses of $61.6 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.
The evening honored the designer Valentino who made his stage entrance down a ramp out of a 1940s movie set. It was reminiscent of the triumphant appearance after a runway show, which it was.
Valentino received his standing ovation flanked by 20 dancers wearing his creations in “Bal de Couture,” a ballet made for the event by Peter Martins, ballet master in chief.
Until then, Valentino sat in the front row of the First Ring, joined by actress Anne Hathaway and model Iman. Nearby sat Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners Inc., Barry Diller, IAC/InterActiveCorp chairman, and Peter Brant, chairman and chief executive officer of White Birch Paper Co.
Also in the house: Oaktree Capital Management LP’s chairman, Howard Marks, and his son, Blue Ridge Capital LLC’s analyst Andrew Marks.
Meryl Streep, Claire Danes and others appeared in a video tribute to Valentino. “Sublime,” Gwyneth Paltrow said to describe him. “Tan,” Rita Wilson quipped.
Hathaway’s laughter echoed through the house just as the performance of Balanchine’s “Rubies” was about to begin.
“I was just overjoyed,” said Hathaway in gray lace Valentino. “I got to feast on enough beauty to last me a long while.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)