Staley, Niederauer, Bowles, Whitehead: Scene Last Night

At the Museum of American Finance’s gala last night, Duncan Niederauer told Jes Staley he was “feeling good about” the sale of NYSE Euronext to IntercontinentalExchange.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Niederauer, who will be president of the combined firms.

Staley was grinning just hours after he announced his departure to BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, where he’ll be managing partner, from JPMorgan Chase & Co, where he worked for more than 34 years.

Change in the financial industry is a constant theme at the museum, whose exhibitions include a 1792 treasury bond issued to George Washington as well as information on hedge funds and electronic trading.

The 25-year-old institution has a $3.6 million budget and last year had 43,000 visitors. The newest temporary exhibition lets visitors weigh in on five investments made by Barings Bank, including the Louisiana Purchase.

“The public needs better education about finance,” said Muriel Siebert, founder of Siebert Financial Corp., who developed a financial curriculum for high schools. “I respect the museum because they’re trying.”

Niederauer, who is on the museum’s advisory board, said the museum is too often perceived as an arm of the New York Stock Exchange, because it opened down the street around the same time the NYSE visitor gallery closed.

“I don’t think we’ve done a good job to say to JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs that this is your museum, too,” Niederauer said.

The museum is located at 48 Wall St., the site of Alexander Hamilton’s Bank of New York.

Record Raised

“Hamilton would be proud to know all of us were here tonight,” James Grant, founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, said. The event raised a record $750,000 and had record attendance of 250 guests, including Ina Drew, former chief investment officer of JPMorgan, David Coulter of Warburg Pincus LLC, and Daniel Lufkin and William Donaldson, two of the founders of the defunct Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

After a meal of asparagus salad and beef, the museum presented its Whitehead Award for Distinguished Public Service and Financial Leadership, created by former Goldman Sachs co-chairman John Whitehead, who was present and lamented the “lack of leadership today.”

The recipient of the award was Bill Harrison, who expanded Chemical Bank and was chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co. when Banc One was acquired, bringing Jamie Dimon into the firm as his successor.

Old Friend

Harrison’s childhood friend, Erskine Bowles, delivered the award tribute, recounting their days at Virginia Episcopal School and as fraternity brothers at the University of North Carolina.

Bowles also explained why he didn’t receive lead billing in the naming of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which laid out a plan to reduce the deficit.

“We called it Simpson-Bowles instead of Bowles-Simpson because everything in Washington is called by its initials,” Bowles said.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on dining, Jeremy Gerard on theater.

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