Scene Last Night: Icahn, Ackman, Bruce Richards, Steinem

Bill Ackman celebrated his birthday by giving a present.

Born at 12:30 a.m. on May 11 1966, the hedge-fund manager had already turned 47 when he told players at the R Baby Foundation’s third annual tennis tournament on Saturday that he’d match their bids in the Calcutta auction “up to a hundred grand.”

The stakes were a bigger pot for the winners and more funds to train doctors and parents on caring for newborns in emergency medical situations.

Ackman, chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, put up $8,000 for himself and doubles partner Mariusz Adamski, who works with him. He also bid $1,000 for the team of Jeff Appel, a managing director at PrinceRidge LLC, and $1,000 for Ellington Management Group LLC. chief operating officer Larry Penn's team.

“I hedge my bets,” said Ackman, wearing a black Under Armour pullover and white shorts and sneakers. “This is a good cause, and I love the game.”

Bruce Richards, CEO of Marathon Asset Management LP, put up $10,000 for his team.

“I suck, but I have a good teammate,” Richards said of David Caldwell, a three-time college all-American who is now a partner at Eastlight Renewable Ventures.

Viral Infection

The man who recruited the college and professional players, collected the bids, and partnered with Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood Capital Group LLC, was Jason Pinsky of Wexford Capital LP. His cousin Rebecca died at nine days old, after being misdiagnosed with a common cold when she had a viral infection. Rebecca’s parents, Phyllis and Andrew Rabinowitz, created the foundation a few months after her death.

The winners of the tournament, held at Stadium Tennis Center in the South Bronx, were 16-year-old Jimmy Wasserman, who goes to Horace Mann School, and Vasko Mladenov, a senior at St. John’s University.

Winners took 10 percent of the amount raised in the auction, and the charity got the rest.

Ackman said he would celebrate his birthday Saturday night with “dinner and dancing with friends.”

Here are a few other health-related fundraisers that have taken place in recent weeks.

Women, Science

Over lunch on May 9, Lulu Wang of Tupelo Capital Management LLC and Frederick Iseman of CI Capital Partners LLC learned about what’s going on in the labs of Rockefeller University’s female scientists. For instance, Svetlana Mojsov is studying glucose metabolism, research that may help develop strategies to treat obesity and diabetes. The Women and Science event raised $1.4 million.

At its Crystal Party on May 2, Mount Sinai Medical Center raised more than $3.2 million with dinner and dancing (Peter May of Trian Fund Management did the twist) under a tent in Central Park. Eric S. Lane, global co-head of investment management at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and his wife, Sarah, chaired the event.

Carl Icahn received special notice for his $200 million gift that renamed the medical school the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai -- and has prompted orders for new business cards and lab coats with the blue and pink Icahn logo.

“I work for secular change. This is about a secular change as far as medicine,” said the chairman of Icahn Enterprises Holdings LP, who’s been trying to upend a $24.4 billion buyout of Dell Inc. “Especially in genetics, this is an amount of money that can make a major difference.”

Icahn said he doesn’t go to benefits often, nor does he like to get involved in decisions at Mount Sinai. “I work a lot. I like to play chess.”

Bag Ladies

At the annual New York Bag Ladies Luncheon for the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation on April 11, the co-founder of Gilt Groupe, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, said she felt awkward talking about fashion to people suffering from lupus, but reasoned that “looking good helps us feel good.”

The crowd at the Plaza Hotel agreed, taking out pen and pencil to write down her top 10 fashion trends, including black-and-white and graphic prints. The term “Bag Ladies” refers to a silent auction for designer handbags held before lunch.

When lupus patient Jamie Peretz came to the lectern, she announced she was kicking off her shoes because her feet were swollen due to her chronic autoimmune disease.

Gloria Steinem gave her a big thumbs-up for her honesty, as did every guest aching in their high heels for no good reason.

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

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