Corbat Gets De Blasio Toast at the Met as Clinton Takes Brooklynby
The mayor honors Citi chief at Met’s Business Committee Dinner
Event also fetes investor Oscar Tang, raises $1.9 million
On Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton was in Brooklyn, claiming her party’s nomination dressed in a white coat by Lisa Perry, wife of hedge-fund manager Richard Perry. Meanwhile, Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York City, who’s seeking re-election in 2017, was in Manhattan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sporting a blue suit and red tie to honor Citigroup’s chief executive.
"I want to thank my friend Michael Corbat, whom I’ve had the joy of working with on many good causes, including affordable housing," De Blasio said.
Clinton herself spoke in nearly the same spot in 2012, when she was secretary of state, to inaugurate the renovated galleries of the American Wing, a night she also wore white.
"How can anyone walk through these galleries and not see that America has the talent, ingenuity, grace and grit to come through icy waters?" Clinton said four years ago, after she’d visited Emanuel Leutze’s painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
On Tuesday night, De Blasio said the museum’s holdings allow one to be "transported to different places and times," and remarked on the event’s decor -- specifically, the giant arrangement of flora that lurked behind him as he spoke.
"I’m impressed by this floral backdrop," De Blasio said. "It’s vaguely threatening, but beautiful at the same time."
Corbat, who became Citigroup’s CEO in 2012, talked of another intimidating presence in the museum as he accepted a Civic Leadership Award from the Met’s Business Committee.
The Temple of Dendur is "always most haunting at night," Corbat said.
When his kids were younger, the Temple of Dendur was a favorite spot to visit on family outings. Back then, his and his wife’s goals for their children were to "boost their appreciation of art" and "to elicit that sigh at the end of the day when they’d worn themselves tired from roaming the halls," Corbat said.
On this night, several Citigroup employees went roaming. David Chubak, the firm’s head of productivity, posed for a photograph in front of a statue of Amenhotep III. Stephen Bird, CEO of global consumer banking, showed off one of his wallet’s prized possessions, a Citigroup Ultima credit card, which he said is six times heavier than a typical credit card. Many others visited the Costume Institute exhibition.
Ed Skyler, Citigroup’s head of global public affairs (and former press secretary for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg LP) greeted Mayor De Blasio as the mozzarella course was served. (De Blasio sat down briefly with Nicolas and Jeanne Rohatyn, but didn’t touch the first course, and didn’t stick around for the Creekstone filet of beef).
The evening also honored Oscar Tang, who spent a summer working for Citigroup in Hong Kong when he was in college, and who shares Corbat’s passion for skiing. He co-founded investment firm Reich and Tang after working at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. At the Met, he’s helped build the holdings in Asian art.
Citigroup has been a corporate member of the Met since 1971 and 10,000 employees visit annually, said Thomas Campbell, the museum’s director. Citigroup is a supporter of exhibitions including one next year on Mexican art.
The Business Committee at the Met raised a record $1.9 million from the event.
The committee was formed about 30 years ago and its broad membership includes leaders in finance, publishing, insurance and real estate. Its co chairs are Jeffrey Peek of Bank of America and Mary Ann Tighe of CB Richard Ellis.
Citigroup’s support of the Met goes back to 1920, said Corbat. Museum Chairman Daniel Brodsky, who introduced De Blasio, credited "business and civic leaders" with helping to found the Met in 1870.