Financiers From Goldman to Avenue Find Fun at NYC's Spring Galas

(Bloomberg) -- At the Public Art Fund gala on Thursday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Dean Backer played a game created by visual artist Christopher Chiappa. A riff on the bean-bag toss, this one involved aiming for the yolk centers of fried-egg sculptures, a task Backer handily managed twice -- earning himself a miniature version of the egg as a prize.

GSO Capital Partners co-founder Bennett Goodman got a lesson in the work of Samuel Fosso, a self-portraitist who most recently posed as a black Pope, when the International Center of Photography honored the artist Monday.

And Randy Takian, of Avenue Capital, on Wednesday dined at a table decorated with wine glass-high cutouts of Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Mueller and Harvey Weinstein that were created by interior designer Vicente Wolf.

“There’s humor, a little nervousness, a little indigestion,” Wolf said of his contribution to the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House gala, where most designers took a safer route by making pretty tables piled with orchids and monogrammed napkins.

Financiers don’t just show up at charity galas for the glamour. They’re there to meet people who aren’t like them, to talk about things other than work and to learn about the things their often generous contributions bring about.

The Opportunity Network’s gala Monday illustrated that point. There, Ramin Arani, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, Oliver Wiener of BTIG and Scott Ostfeld of Jana Partners were all within spitting distance of James Bond actor Daniel Craig. But they were clearly more impressed by Mohamed Sall, an OppNet alumnus who works in sales and trading at CIBC Capital Markets.

Sall lived with a family in the French Alps, interned at Union Square Advisors and graduated from Duke University during his six years in the program, which seeks to open the door for low-income students to the networking, internship and travel experiences that come so easily to kids from wealthy families.

At the ICP benefit, Goodman sat near Anna Wintour and designer Jason Wu. But there was no table hopping for him. Instead, over dinner, he talked with photographer Diane Tuft about the biography of Giorgio Vasari that he’s reading.

Tuft told him her next climate change project may bring her to Northern Siberia to document the melting permafrost. Tuft and Goodman also talked about ICP’s upcoming move, which will bring the school and museum together at Essex Crossing, a retail, residential and office development being planned on the Lower East Side.

Other news picked up at galas: The crispy duck salad at Philippe restaurant on the Upper East Side is an ideal lunch entree; a new festival with music is coming to Marfa, Texas in 2019; and the Spring Place club on Varick Street has kicked off a partnership with the Watermill Center to bring its Hamptons art antics to the city.

Here are more photographs from these benefits.

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