Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- In front of a Christmas tree at last night’s Inner-City Scholarship Fund gala, Stephen Schwarzman enumerated some of the deeds that made him a good boy for Santa.
Schwarzman and his wife, Christine, who wore an elfish green gown, sponsor 200 children to attend Catholic schools in New York City through the fund.
“We get their report cards, and we review them,” Schwarzman said. “I like to write them back. I like doing it by letter, even if it’s old-fashioned, because then they have something to keep, on stationery, encouraging them to do better or congratulating them on doing well.”
This year, the co-founder of Blackstone Group LP created the Schwarzman Scholars, which will send 200 students a year from around the world to Tsinghua University in Beijing for master’s degrees. Schwarzman gave $100 million of his own money and raised a further $160 million, and is working on designing the program’s curriculum and building. The first class will enter in 2016.
“It’s taken me back to when I started my business,” Schwarzman said. “It’s taking something that doesn’t exist at all and trying to conceptualize all the elements. It’s familiar, but I thought I was beyond that stage. Apparently I’m not.”
Schwarzman said the project has been “surprisingly time-intensive, but it introduces me to people all over the world.” The event was at the New York Public Library building named after the financier for his $100 million gift in 2008.
The Inner-City Scholarship Fund benefit honored Sam Di Piazza, a vice chairman at Citigroup Inc., and his wife, Melody.
“We’ve been a part of Inner-City for 18 years,” Di Piazza said. “It’s our favorite thing because it helps young kids have a chance to break the chain.”
The fund provides $12 million in scholarships to 8,000 students, 70 percent of whom live in poverty. Executive Director Susan George said 96 percent of the recipients finish high school, and 98 percent of those graduates go to college.
The fund works in partnership with the Archdiocese of New York, which operates the schools. The fund’s chairman is Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
John Paulson and his wife, Jenny, gave their eldest daughter 25 pink roses Saturday after her performance in George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” at New York City Ballet.
The bouquet was unveiled at a party following the matinee, where the ballerina, in her Polichinelle costume -- pink satin with yellow pom-poms, red circles painted on her face -- signed autographs, including one for her hedge-funder dad.
Jenny Paulson, a co-chairman of the event, wore a pale pink and plum Fendi dress. “Come, munchkin,” she said, collecting her younger daughter as the family gathered around a table decorated with a gingerbread house and box lunches for adults and children alike.
The benefit’s proceeds, which topped $850,000, support the New York City Ballet’s education programs and the School of American Ballet.
At a benefit for Tibet House in New York last night, co-founder Robert Thurman, the Columbia University professor who may be better known as the father of actress Uma, said Tibetan culture helped keep his family together.
“It’s been a life saver to us,” said Thurman. “It has to do with Buddhism, with meditation, with understanding the mind, lessening destructive emotions and heightening positive ones. We’re happy to pay back by helping the Tibetan people.”
An auction at the benefit, held at Christie’s, included art, jewelry, and trips to Mongolia and Bhutan, and raised funds for Tibet House’s programs and the local Tibetan refugee community, according to the auction program. Uma Thurman bid on having Hugh Jackman record her voicemail. Manu Bennett, the actor who plays Azog in “The Hobbit” trilogy, was the winner, paying $2,700.
A visit to the set of the next film by Quentin Tarantino, who directed Uma in the “Kill Bill” movies, went for $15,000. A walk-on role in the next film by writer-director David O. Russell went for $9,000.
Tibet House offers classes, retreats and exhibitions, including one in which contemporary artists explore the mandala, a symbol representing the universe. That opens on Jan. 9 of the new year.
Transcendental Meditation has a growing following on Wall Street, according to one of its chief evangelists: Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, which held its gala earlier this month at the Conrad Hotel.
“The problem of stress is worse than ever, and conventional approaches through modern medicine are not working,” Roth said in a telephone interview.
Hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio practices TM and has arranged classes for his employees at Bridgewater Associates LP. He attended the gala, Roth said.
The foundation, founded by “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive” director Lynch, is rolling out a program to teach TM to first responders for free. With initial sessions and two years of “intensive follow-up,” the program costs about $740 a person.
Better-heeled students like traders are charged $950 for their instruction, which calls for TM sessions of 20 minutes, two times a day, at one’s desk.
“Traders have to be calm inside and wide-awake and focused outside,” Roth said. “This is what this meditation does. It’s a clarity and focus that’s never lost, that grows more and more as the world gets crazier.”
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