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Scene Last Night: KKR’s McVey, Peter May, James Simons

Central Park Conservancy
The holiday spirit has arrived on the gala circuit. Bloomberg's Amanda Gordon talks to senior executives in finance about their gifts to New York and their loved ones. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Henry McVey, global head of macro and asset allocation at KKR & Co., and his wife, Laura, like the Great Lawn in Central Park “because you can play baseball or basketball,” she said.

“And bring the family for a picnic,” he added.

The couple spent yesterday evening in a party tent at Naumburg Bandshell at a benefit for the Central Park Conservancy that raised more than $1 million.

Douglas Blonsky, president of the conservancy, said chipmunks are back in the park after 30 years “because the new carry-in, carry-out policy has reduced the numbers of rats, who are their biggest competitor for food.”

A conservancy-designed trash can is also tidying up the place. “It is really a beautiful can,” Blonsky said. “You can buy one for $1,200, with some of the proceeds going to the conservancy.”

“I love the lake,” said Peter May, founding partner of Trian Fund Management LP. Looking out on the lake from his apartment and finding it “covered in black” led him and his wife, Leni, to give money to restore it.

Thomas Kempner, executive managing member of Davidson Kempner Capital Management LLC, chairman of the conservancy, said his favorite part of the park is “all of it.”

Birthday Presents

The best presents the founder of Renaissance Technologies LLC, Jim Simons, has given to his wife: “Jewelry,” he said.

“Surprising me twice with birthday parties,” Marilyn Simons said last night in the ballroom of the Pierre. “For my 40th and 59th, and I have to say they were pretty fantastic gifts.”

And what do you get for a man who has a net worth of $12 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index?

“I gave him a book of free dog walks for a year,” Marilyn Simons said. “So every time we came home late from a party, and he wanted to go to bed, he could get out of walking the dog” (a Collie).

The couple were honored at a gala for Center for Education Innovation -- Public Education Association, which works with more than 220 district public schools and charter schools in New York, including Tag Young Scholars in East Harlem, whose Latin Jazz Ensemble performed during cocktail hour.

Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, was also honored. There to applaud: her husband, Jim Tisch, chief executive of Loews Corp., and her sister-in-law, Ann Rubenstein Tisch, founder of the Young Women’s Leadership Network of all-girls’ public schools.

Project Boost

Other guests included Innisfree M&A Inc.’s Ben Grossman and Garrett Mincin.

Judy Berkowitz, chairman of CEI-PEA, said the $1.3 million in gala proceeds would support Project Boost, which sends students to museums and Broadway shows and has improved their academic performance. One Boost graduate is now working at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Howard P. Berkowitz, chief executive of the hedge fund business at BlackRock Inc., caught up with Norman Benzaquen of Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co. LLC. They talked about the lunch Benzaquen attended in honor of Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, who this week published “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.”

Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro brought his new programming manager, Kirk Peterson, to the New York Public Radio gala on Monday night.

Peterson is charged with booking acts at the Brooklyn Bowls set to open in London (where Jonathan Toubin’s Soul Clap is a possibility), and Las Vegas (4 a.m. shows anyone?)

Shapiro, a board member of New York Public Radio, said he’s a fan of Soundcheck, the WNYC program hosted by Jonathan Schaefer with in-studio performances and interviews.

Buyout specialist Russell Carson said he tunes in to WQXR for classical music. Other generous listeners at 583 Park included John D. Clark of Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe LP and investment banker Peter J. Solomon.

“I do find it kind of astounding that the pay-what-you-want model can work,” said Freakonomics podcast co-host Stephen Dubner of the public radio economic model.

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