Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

(Bloomberg) -- In a week of impeachment hearings, twitter fights and a lot of chaos, two nonprofits had major nights.

In Los Angeles, some very thin, famous and fabulously dressed people improbably carb-loaded and watched Paula Abdul perform “Cold Hearted” as they raised almost $5 million for Baby2Baby, including a $50,000 pledge from Vanessa and Kobe Bryant.

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

Sponsors paid for “every spoon, fork, cocktail and flower” so every dollar donated would go to the organization, Gwyneth Paltrow said on stage in front of an animation of a tree made by artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

The hosts at 3Labs in Culver City were Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, moms with spouses in the entertainment industry. They founded Baby2Baby eight years ago to distribute diapers, clothing, cribs and car seats to children living in poverty.

Along the way, they’ve created a party drawing media (Weather Channel owner Byron Allen), fashion (Rodarte’s Laura Mulleavy and Jenni Kayne), finance (Todd Lemkin of Canyon Partners and Adam Nathanson of Mapleton Investments), tech (Greycroft’s Dana Settle) and Hollywood (Billy Eichner who passed on noodles for the Jon & Vinny’s pizza).

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers
Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

Proceeds from the gala make up about 70% of the organization’s budget, which now serves 200,000 kids locally, Weinstein said. It worked to get the sales tax on diapers eliminated in California, effective in January, and advises groups in more than 30 cities on the logistics of helping families in need, Patricof said.

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers
Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

Guests were mostly parents with young kids, though some elders, such as TPG’s David Bonderman and Greycroft’s Alan Patricof, mingled with Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner. Kelly Rowland (of Destiny’s Child fame) sipped a cocktail with Brian Weinstein, chief operating officer of Bad Robot, husband of Norah and a co-founder of a charity himself, Opportunity Network, which helps underprivileged high school students in New York City get to college and beyond.

Four days later, one of the most influential opportunity networks for black artists, the 51-year-old Studio Museum in Harlem, held its gala at the Javits Center. The event Wednesday raised $3 million and represented an apotheosis of institutional and social diversification.

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

It’s no small thing that the museum is building a new home on 125th Street designed by David Adjaye, and that its director and chief curator, Thelma Golden, has curated an exhibition of Michael Armitage at the Museum of Modern Art.

In the crowd were former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (hours before tweeting about Elizabeth Warren), private equity investor and Goldman board member Bayo Ogunlesi, Lazard’s William Lewis, Blackstone’s Neil Simpkins, Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer and Donald Newhouse.

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

Golden and Ray McGuire are forces in raising the Studio Museum’s profile, aided by black artists such as Torkwase Dyson, who received the $50,000 Wein Prize at the gala in part for her work exploring climate change.

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

Golden came from the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she was the first African-American curator, and has brought influential collectors into the Studio Museum’s fold. (To wit: the Whitney’s former chairman, Leonard Lauder, was this year’s gala honoree, though he wasn’t able to attend.)

Lloyd Blankfein Helps Black Artists, Kobe Bryant Funds Diapers

McGuire, a vice chairman at Citigroup, is chairman of Studio Museum, and serves on the boards of the Whitney and the New York Public Library. He’s also been honored by charities all over town, where he frames access -- to the arts, to education, to diapers, to books, to jobs -- as the critical issue for our time.

“Access is a lifeline to creativity, confidence, self-worth, dignity and belonging,” McGuire said.

In this, both Baby2Baby and the Studio Museum in Harlem are doing their part.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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