New York's Answer to Davos: Ping Pong and Satchmo

Updated on
  • Table tennis raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC
  • ‘What a Wonderful World’ plays for Armstrong House Museum

Earlier this month, Jeff Peek, a vice chair at Bank of America, quipped about President Donald Trump attending the World Economic Forum at Davos. “Are they paying him an appearance fee?” Peek said. “He’ll certainly rev things up.”

He got that last part right. Many of the biggest names in New York business and politics were in Switzerland this week, but the city’s social circuit didn’t suffer.

Kunal Joshi, Robin Chandra, Siva Kalaga and Ankur Wadhwa

Source: Ankur Wadhwa

American Express, not America First, were the words on everyone’s lips at the 10th annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City table tennis tournament Thursday at Grand Central Terminal. The two teams that made it to the finals consisted of four employees in risk management at the credit card issuer, all of whom moved to the U.S. from India in their 20s.

In a quick three-set match, Kunal Joshi and Robin Chandra of the American Express team triumphed over Siva Kalaga and Ankur Wadhwa of the Blue Box team (named after the firm’s logo). The trophy will go to the office of Ash Gupta, AmEx’s president of credit risk and information management.

The 28 teams in the field raised more than $150,000 for the mentoring organization. Centerview Partners, Credit Suisse, Davidson Kempner and Scopia Capital Management also sent players, and WeWork hosted a pre-party. Andrew Lipman of TA McKay & Co. and Phil Seskin of Avista Capital Partners founded the event to raise money and recruit mentors. It’s played on the squash court set up for the JPMorgan Tournament of Champions, and is held on the day of that competition’s finals.

Honoring Satchmo

Louis Armstrong’s song “What a Wonderful World” might not make the best Davos anthem, but it sure was the right song to kick off a gala Tuesday at Capitale for the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

Armstrong was already famous in 1943 when he and his wife, Lucille, bought a red-brick house in the working-class neighborhood of Corona, Queens, where they lived until their deaths. Now a museum, the public will find it much as they lived in it: turquoise kitchen, mirrored bathroom and den with a Marantz stereo console.

InterSchool Orchestras musicians joined Wycliffe Gordon to perform "What a Wonderful World."

Photograhper: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

But something new is coming: an education center will be built in the next couple of years featuring a 68-seat jazz room, exhibition space and a new home for the Armstrong archive currently housed at Queens College.

So how was it listening to Wycliffe Gordon perform “What a Wonderful World” at the start of 2018? Armstrong himself said the song, with lyrics like “I see trees of green” and “I hear babies crying,” captured his Queens neighborhood.

“Everybody needs to hear it," Art Thompson, a financial adviser with Wells Fargo, said at the event, which raised more than $230,000. “It’s soulful. If you don’t feel it, you obviously have a problem.”

Virginian Invasion

Sometimes a song can lift at a room, sometimes it’s a person. At the Winter Antiques Show, that person for many years has been Arie Kopelman. As chairman, he made sure visitors could embark on great collecting adventures. He’s also worked out the numbers so that the event is a productive fundraiser for East Side House Settlement. This year, his first as chairman emeritus, the show raised more than $800,000.

“We live in a very complicated world, so many things are going wrong, very often we forget about how many things are going right,” Kopelman said before a Champagne toast for his service to the show.

Diana and Joseph Dowling

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

One more thing to celebrate at the Winter Antiques Show is the contingent of Virginians it brought up. The hook: pride of place at the show for an exhibition by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, showing off its Faberge eggs and other treasured holdings.

Anson Beard, Mark Gerson and Veronica Beard, a fashion designer.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

One of their chicest social engagements outside the Park Avenue Armory was the reception at Kappo Masa hosted by the Richmond-based Cary Street Partners, the wealth-management subsidiary of Luxon Financial. Joseph Dowling, chief investment officer of Brown University; Virginia Parker, CIO of Parker Global Strategies; Mark Gerson and Luxon’s Anson Beard attended.

Along with sushi and private tours of Gagosian Gallery, there was a painting by Cy Twombly -- born in Lexington, Virginia -- and plenty of the state’s boosters.

“I’m from Abingdon, the Greenwich of Appalachia," said Chris Walters, who runs Cary Street’s Abingdon’s branch. “It’s a beautiful old town on the edge of coal country. It’s where Gregory Peck got his start, at the Barter Theatre."

Joseph Schmuckler and Tom Tullidge in front of a Roy Lichtenstein

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Doug Stewart talked up Fredericksburg where he lives in an 1834 home that was used as a hospital during the Civil War. The place to eat there is La Petite Auberge.

And Joseph Schmuckler, the chief executive officer of Luxon Financial, sang the praises of a Richmond restaurant called Amuse, located at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Museum director Alex Nyerges, and Cary Street’s own Celia Rafalko, said the crab cakes are the best.

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