Goldman Execs Have Dinner With an Immortalist: Scene Last Night

  • Conversation included stem cell research, cow dissections
  • Laura Blankfein and Related's Stephen Ross also attended

Stephen M. Scherr, chief strategy officer at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., had dinner with an immortalist Tuesday night with oversight from Goldman’s global head of compliance, Alan Cohen.

Stephen M. Scherr and Susan Scherr

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The setting was the New York Stem Cell Foundation’s 10th anniversary gala that drew 400 guests to Skylight at Moynihan Station.

Over chicken and ribs, Giuseppe Maria de Peppo, the self-described immortalist and futurist, discussed his research as a principal investigator with the foundation. The Italian engineers bone tissue substitutes with the goal of replacing cells that aren’t working.

"Life is beautiful! There is no reason to die," said de Peppo, sporting an Hermes tie with a mushroom pattern. "We have the power, the technology, to re-engineer health into our body."

Giuseppe Maria de Peppo, in his lab coat, during the "science fair" set up during cocktail hour.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

One table over, Laura Blankfein, wife of Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, had a long chat with Daniel Paull, NYSCF’s director of automation systems and stem cell biology. Her husband, who last month announced he has “highly curable” lymphoma, would have attended the gala but was meeting with a client. “My husband’s good,” she said.

Grandson Expected

One reason is that their first grandchild is due around Thanksgiving. "A little boy," she said. "Of all the things that are happening, this is the most exciting."

The parents are her son Alexander and his wife, Cristina, who is preparing for motherhood while building a beverage company producing Be Mixed, a zero-calorie cocktail mixer.

Cristina Ros Blankfein’s business partner is Jennifer Ross, which takes us back to the NYSCF gala: one of the honorees was Jennifer’s dad, Stephen Ross, chairman and founder of Related Cos.

William Mack, Susan L. Solomon and Stephen M. Ross

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Last December, Stephen Ross ran into the foundation’s co-founder and CEO Susan L. Solomon at an engagement party, and soon after agreed to help the NYSCF build a new laboratory. About $11 million has been raised for the capital project, with about $4 million to go, Solomon said before sampling one of the desserts, a miniature apple pie.

‘Mad Scientist’

Ross said “no” when Solomon first approached him for help 10 years ago. This time, he asked around and learned the organization’s research was promising and respected. “I had no interest in it,” he said. “Seeing what it can do for other people, I took an interest.” It helped that Solomon’s request for help related to his expertise in real estate. Science had been his “worst” subject in school, he said, math his best.

Simone and David Levinson

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

“I was a mad scientist,” said developer David W. Levinson, recalling that as a teenager he stumbled into his first real estate project when conducting an experiment with hydrogen. "I blew up my family’s two-car garage," he said.

Back at the dinner table, the immortalist, de Peppo, said he’d favored philosophy and literature in school until he realized these subjects are “romantic and beautiful, they can open your mind,” but they are “not going to change the world.”

Alan M. Cohen and Peggy Bewkes, NYSCF board members

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Scherr said he has always liked history, particularly Latin American, while Cohen said the pinnacle of his science education was dissecting a cow’s head in junior high biology. As an NYSCF trustee, Cohen said his role is “to support people who know what they’re doing.”