Just before 10 last night, NBC News anchor Brian Williams said the total amount raised at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit was “$72,559,253 and counting.”
The figure, 100 percent of which will go to fight poverty in New York, reached $80.5 million by the morning. A big boost came from a $25 million challenge grant made by a group identified only as non-board members of the nonprofit. Board members pay for the costs of the party and the organization’s operating expenses.
Paul Tudor Jones, of Tudor Investment Corp., kicked things off by offering $10,000 for Williams’s tie. The pair called on the 4,200 guests at the Jacob K. Javits Center to do the same by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, then gave the stage over to Jerry Seinfeld.
“You’re trying to remember who’s here,” Seinfeld said, “so you can tell people tomorrow and make people feel bad.”
Scattered around the sprawling venue were Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google Inc.; model Karlie Kloss with venture capitalist Joshua Kushner; David Tepper of Appaloosa Management LP; Steve Kuhn of Pine River Capital Management LP; and Boaz Weinstein of SABA Capital Management LP.
At one table you could find Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies LLC, Kenneth Langone of Invemed Associates Inc., Eli Manning, and Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, event co-chairmen along with Henry and Marie-Josee Kravis.
Victor Cruz in a plum suit sat near Uma Thurman in a floor-length white dress and hedge-fund manager Arpad Busson. John Griffin and Chase Coleman in almost identical eyeglass frames had a Tiger Management pow-wow in an aisle dividing the 420 tables that was decorated to look like an asphalt bike path.
The man who walks on hot stones, Tony Robbins; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia; “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies and Mariska Hargitay, founder of Joyful Heart Foundation, were also in the house.
“Everyone here has been amazing. You showed your love for this great city. Now it’s time to party,” Timberlake said, introducing the finale for the night as “something powerful”: Bono, Elton John, Sting, all joining Mary J. Blige, who opened with “Family Affair.” Guests rushed the stage, with Schmidt and Kuhn grabbing spots up front.
The event started under a sign stating that one in five New Yorkers lives in poverty: It was there that Steve Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer of SAC Capital Advisors, said hello to Jones, co-founder of the Robin Hood Foundation.
“It’s a great organization doing great things. There’s nothing like it,” Cohen said.
“It’s about passion, commitment and perseverance,” Jones said.
“And community,” said Cohen, a Robin Hood board member and the co-chairman of its Veterans Advisory Board.
“I want to second what Steve said,” Jones said. “Honestly, Robin Hood is an army, it’s a movement. You walk in this room and you feel it.”
“Whatever Paul says,” said Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who was standing nearby.
The meeting of the minds happened as DJ Bonnie Thornton, who spins at Soho House, played money-themed tunes -- “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong, “This Must Be the Place” by the Talking Heads -- and waiters served snacks on trays with little vases of yellow wildflowers.
Guests wore glowing pendants around their neck in different colors indicating the number of years they’ve been involved in the organization. The chairman of the Robin Hood Foundation board, Barry Sternlicht, CEO and chairman of Starwood Capital Group LLC, called them “loyalty medallions.”
LL Cool J and Elton John kicked off the dinner portion of the evening, followed by a video featuring interviews with donors.
“It’s a place where you can operate on a human scale,” Goldman CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein said in the video.
“We feed lunch to kids who sometimes haven’t had a decent meal in a week,” added Laura Blankfein.
The menu from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events was green pea and fava bean pesto, baby carrots and chicken pot pie with a picture of the Robin Hood archer on the pastry top.
Comedian Louis C.K. described the event as “soul laundering,” and said it was one of the few chances he had to tell his jokes about Porsches.
Paul Simon came on as a surprise performer and sang “The Boxer.” Then he was joined by Sting for the latter’s “Fields of Gold.”
“We’ve started a new band,” said the ageless Englishman. “It’s called Simon and Stingfunkel.”
(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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