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HomeHealth and LifestyleWall Street’s Heavy Hitters Come Out for the ‘Met Ball of Finance’

Wall Street’s Heavy Hitters Come Out for the ‘Met Ball of Finance’


On the second Monday in May, the Empire State Building flickered Robin Hood green, for a night when some of New York City’s deepest pockets gathered for a charitable cause.

A few thousand guests packed into the Javits Center for the annual gala hosted by Robin Hood, an antipoverty group that gives millions in grants each year to organizations across the city and which has long been a popular charity among Wall Street’s heavy hitters.

The convention center was transformed into a futurescape, with large, inflatable clouds, and performers dangling from the rafters on swings. A sign near the entrance invited people to the Robin Hood Matrix, “a vision of New York City, limited only by your imagination.”

Pat Kiernan, the NY1 anchor, arrived early in the evening. Like other guests, he walked through a smoke machine and a tunnel lit with green lasers, drawing on the imagery of the iconic 1999 Keanu Reeves sci-fi film.

“I really just respect the work that Robin Hood does and the way they do it to get out into the community and really measure the effectiveness of things,” said Mr. Kiernan, who added that he had attended the event before.

Servers circulated among guests with yellowfin tuna spring rolls, caviar toasts and blood orange margaritas, offering them to a room that skewed heavily toward men in suits and ties, as a pulsing Abba track played in the background.

The crowd included a mix of politicians, businessmen and celebrities. Tickets started at $3,000, and tables ranged from $35,000 to $250,000. In the room were Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland, Mike Bezos, Mark Bezos, Alexis Ohanian Sr., the N.B.A. great Walt “Clyde” Frazier and David C. Banks, the chancellor of New York City Public Schools. Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” was also in attendance and was credited with helping to secure the gala’s comedian.

The night’s co-chairs included Patrick Healy, the chief executive of Hellman & Friedman; Kristin Lemkau, the chief executive of J.P. Morgan Wealth Management; and Henrik Lundqvist, the former New York Rangers goalkeeper.

Around 7 p.m., to signal dinnertime, roller skaters in silver two-piece outfits congaed through the party, which opened to reveal a giant dining room surrounded on all sides by screens.

“This is like the Met Ball of finance,” said the artist Dustin Yellin, who founded the art center Pioneer Works. “I’m just like a lost poet. And so, all these fancy people and their fancy suits get me excited about building weird stuff, you know? Every director needs a producer, and so like, this is a hall of producers.”

Tory Burch, the designer, who was at last week’s Met Gala said that the two events were not quite so analogous. “Just a very different experience,” she said. “Different people-watching and fun people-watching.” Robin Hood’s benefit raised more than $68.5 million, far exceeding the $26 million raised by the Met Gala.

Nearby, Governor Moore mingled with other guests, as artichoke carpaccio followed by campanelle with braised beef were being served.

The night featured an appearance from the ESPN star Stephen A. Smith, and about midway through the evening the band Mumford & Sons performed a few songs, followed later by a short stand-up routine from the comedian Nate Bargatze.

Gov. Kathy Hochul strode to the stage in a crisp white dress and encouraged people to keep giving.

“Stick with what you’re doing,” she said. “But keep spending this money the way you have and know that you’re making a difference in the lives of others.”

Afterward, Richard R. Buery, Jr., the chief executive of Robin Hood, joined Mr. Banks, the chancellor, to announce a new partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education. The initiative funds leadership training for superintendents and principals, based on research that shows a correlation between strong school leadership and student achievement.

Paul Tudor Jones II, the billionaire hedge fund manager and co-founder of Robin Hood, then appeared onstage dressed like Neo in “The Matrix,” with a long black jacket, boots and sunglasses. Clips from the film played in the background.

“New York City faces a matrix of challenges,” Mr. Jones said, citing Robin Hood’s focus on education and calling on people to donate. Within minutes, $5 million was contributed, followed by several gifts of $1 million, all of which would go toward grants to help provide permanent housing, emergency food and job training to people living in poverty, according to the organizers.

As the speeches wound down, Post Malone prepared to take the stage.

He performed for about 40 minutes as attendees, packed the space, singing along quietly to the lyrics and bobbing their heads. Others filed outside into the crisp night and climbed into black cars waiting to drive them away.



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