Philanthropy

Ron Perelman Gathers Usher, Stefani, Richie, J.Lo for Apollo Benefit

  • Apollo raises $5 million as Lionel Richie leads sing-alongs
  • Chris Rock, Bill de Blasio, Schwarzman, Tepper, Kravis attend

Ron Perelman, on the stage of what he called his “little barn in the Hamptons” Saturday night, promised "I’m not going to get political," and guests including Henry Kravis, Steve Schwarzman and David Tepper issued a collective sigh of relief.

After all, the Apollo in the Hamptons fundraiser is supposed to be a night of distractions. This edition, the seventh, included standing in line for the buffet behind Chris Rock and Jennifer Lopez and live music by Lionel Richie, The Roots, Gwen Stefani and Joe Walsh.

Ron Perelman, Don Johnson, Lionel Richie and Ciara on stage at Perelman’s home, the Creeks in Wainscott, New York
Ron Perelman, Don Johnson, Lionel Richie and Ciara on stage at Perelman’s home, the Creeks in Wainscott, New York
Photographer: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo

The billionaire’s stump speech for the historic Harlem venue came after dinner (fried chicken, salmon, watermelon salad, brisket, corn), at settings decorated with rattan fans and napkins in West African prints purchased for the occasion.

Chris Rock, Ron Perelman and Usher
Chris Rock, Ron Perelman and Usher
Photographer: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo

“We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman said. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts. I think the arts breaks the barrier quicker than anything else. And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with."

At which point, Pharrell Williams chimed in with some election-season humor. “Man, you don’t have a teleprompter!” The crowd roared.

‘Hollaback Girl’

Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani perform.
Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani perform.
Photographer: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo

The event raised about $5 million for the Apollo’s arts education programs, which Perelman said prepare children to grow up and make the world a better place. The artists “paid their own way coming here,” so every dollar would go to the Apollo, Perelman said.

There was no protesting. Across the room, Perelman had managed to spread a sense of gratitude and appreciation for being able to take part in such an evening.

Schwarzman got to sit across from Rock for the meal. Lopez from her seat near Brown University President Christina Paxson and Governor Andrew Cuomo, took selfies showing the performances.

Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis
Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Marie-Josee Kravis did a snap and clap combination for “Hollaback Girl” (dirty version) by Stefani, and Rock seemed to know all the words. Lionel Richie led sing-alongs on "Hello" and "All Night Long."

Talking Politics

Chirlane McCray and Mayor Bill de Blasio with Christine and Steve Schwarzman
Chirlane McCray and Mayor Bill de Blasio with Christine and Steve Schwarzman
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, started the evening with a quiet moment on the edge of Georgica Pond with the dock to themselves. During cocktails they chatted with the Schwarzmans, and for dinner were seated with the painter John Alexander and the writer Fran Lebowitz, who said she supports de Blasio’s run for a second term.

"I gave him a few ideas," Lebowitz said. Such as? "No tourists!" she said.

Jon Bon Jovi, a Hillary Clinton supporter, performed “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone before telling the crowd, “I have to go and wash the dishes for Ronald now and serve dessert.”

That was brownies, chocolate chip cookies and a selection of fruit pies.

Dessert at table 21
Dessert at table 21
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
Hope and Robert Smith of Vista Equity Partners, Frederick Terrell, Apollo Theater CEO Jonelle Procope, Darren Walker
Hope and Robert Smith of Vista Equity Partners, Frederick Terrell, Apollo Theater CEO Jonelle Procope, Darren Walker
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
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