In his backyard in Southampton, New York, where he already has a baseball diamond, Howard Lutnick has added tetherball and gaga courts.
“It’s politically correct dodgeball,” Lutnick, chairman and chief executive officer of Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners, said of gaga, played by his eight-year-old in an octagon-shaped frame. “If the ball hits from the knee down, you’re out.”
On Saturday, Lutnick’s game was golf, after which he put on white jeans, a dark shirt and jacket for dinner at the Wainscott home of Frederic Seegal, a vice chairman at Peter J. Solomon Co. The occasion was a $1,500-a-ticket fundraiser for Phoenix House, a national healthcare provider for the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.
Lutnick’s connection to Phoenix House is through his wife, Allison, who said she has a family member who struggled with addiction, hit rock bottom, and has been clean for more than 30 years.
“I’m a parent now of two teenage boys, and I’ve learned through my experience that I can’t trust them with a blind eye,” she said. “I know I have to watch everything they do. And my husband and I have to make sure to communicate.”
A big worry for Phoenix House is teen abuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin and Percocet, said Phoenix House founder Mitchell Rosenthal. These drugs could be a bigger killer than heroin, he added.
The same topic came up at The Jed Foundation’s gala earlier this month, with Executive Director John MacPhee noting a recent partnership formed with the Clinton Foundation and Facebook to get help to college students. Facebook takes in and evaluates reports from users about friends who may be in trouble, then the social media platform sends information on local sources of help to the people who may need it.
“That sounds creepy and good,” Sarah Levithan, a Phoenix House alumnus and founder of Save the Day Consulting, said at Seegal’s home. “Creepy because of my privacy concerns and good because when I was a senior in high school, it was my friends who reached out and told my parents about my drug problem. Peer intervention is so important.”
Entertaining at home was quite a lovely form of peer intervention for about 100 guests on Saturday, among them Lutnick’s sister, Edie, president of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund; Jeff Zucker, president of CNN; literary agent Ed Victor; musician John Forte, who performed; and psychic Monte Farber.
Seegal, as host, urged guests to see the ocean view from his second-story deck on a house he built on the property. Meanwhile on the first floor deck, Seegal’s former Lehman Brothers colleagues, Pete Peterson and Peter J. Solomon gathered.
Both enjoy spending time at their Hamptons homes, Solomon raving about the bounty of his Amber Waves weekly delivery of produce, fish and cheese.
“We have a wonderful place where the view is great all day,” Peterson said. “The water is beautiful. We have five acres loaded with flowers.”
The presentations to honorees -- the Lutnicks and filmmaker Joel Schumacher, who directed two episodes of “House of Cards” in its first season -- took place during cocktail hour.
Dinner for 95 was served at two long tables under a tent nestled between the house and the pool. Caterer Olivier Cheng began with lobster and included slices of rare beef and asparagus, followed later by tarte tatin and fresh berries.
Peterson sat next to Rosenthal, whom he described as a “saint” whose compensation is “far, far less than the people like me who have big homes and so forth. He has a tiny home up in the woods, and yet he gets his income -- it’s psychic income.”
Peterson worries about America’s long-term debt, which is the focus of the foundation he started with his windfall as a co-founder of Blackstone Group. He said it was a problem that the potential candidates for president in 2016 are all focused on the short term.
Seegal, a media banker, said television programmers “have got the power, so they don’t need to merge. The distributors need to merge, not the content providers.”
Earlier in the day he’d taken his first swim of the season. It was the first day the water was warm enough, he said.