Senior Bankers Flock to Pop-Up Nightclub in NY's Central ParkBy
Goldman Sachs’s Carr, Crestview’s Volpert, Krawcheck attend
Central Park steward Doug Blonsky is honored before retiring
A lot of middle-aged people in finance got to live like junior bankers for one evening when their favorite place to run, bike and walk the dog turned into a pop-up nightclub.
Right in the middle of Central Park, the music pulsed and bottles of Belvedere vodka emptied Wednesday evening. White powder glistened on the sleek glass tables -- fake snow, actually, heaped around the flower centerpieces, under a tent along the 72nd Street transverse decorated in a winter wonderland theme.
Credit Central Park Conservancy for filling a void in its patrons’ lives under the cover of just another staid-sounding gala called the Belvedere Ball, though word had spread this night would be different. Rather than floor-length gowns, many of the women wore fancy tops and pants.
Michael Carr, who runs M&A at Goldman Sachs, and his wife, Shelley, had a prime table right off the dance floor, joined by Barry Volpert, co-founder and chief executive of Crestview Capital Partners, and his wife, Teri, who wore a top with an apt message for the evening: "More glitter less Twitter."
During the dinner, John Paulson, a $100 million donor to the conservancy who didn’t attend the event, delivered a testimony by video to the honoree, Doug Blonsky, the retiring CEO of the conservancy.
“Everybody in New York owes this man a debt of gratitude,” Paulson said in the video, describing Blonsky’s contribution to “restoring the park to the masterpiece it is today."
But restored gates, lawns and park benches don’t stay pristine on their own. “He also figured out how to make maintenance sexy," said Adrian Benepe, a former New York City parks commissioner who is now director of city park development for the Trust for Public Land.
Blonsky started at the conservancy 32 years ago and worked his way up. “He knows every tree, every water valve in the park," Benepe said. “The image of Doug seared in my brain is during a terrible Nor’easter, as snow and rain is pelting down and trees and limbs crashing down, and Doug is out there in his foul-weather gear clearing debris from catch basins to prevent flooding."
The conservancy’s chairman, Thomas Kempner, co-founder of Davidson Kempner Capital Management, and trustee Gillian Miniter spoke and thanked Blonsky for his efforts, which include kicking off a $300 million campaign last year that will fund a restoration of Belvedere Castle and other projects, as well as strengthen the endowment.
As for the dance floor, the first one grooving was New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, with the bankers following. Spotted in the crowd throughout the evening were Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest, Bennett Goodman of GSO Capital Partners, Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners, Steve Klinsky of New Mountain Capital, Jeff Peek of Bank of America, Peter May of Trian Partners, Dick Cashin of One Equity Partners, Robert Soros and Neuberger Berman portfolio manager Marvin Schwartz, whose $2 million donation with his wife Donna placed a new iron fence around Central Park’s reservoir.
A slew of millennials arrived after dinner and kept the party going late, including Lily Rivkin of Citigroup, Larry Milstein of American Express and Mollie Saltskog, a Schwarzman Scholar interested in counterterrorism. The event, with support of Northern Trust, raised more than $2 million.