Gary Cohn Is Happy in the Hamptons, Golfing and Crypto Investing
(Bloomberg) -- Gary Cohn may be the most famous unemployed person in the Hamptons thanks to his wife, Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn.
On Saturday night, the former Goldman Sachs president who served about a year as Donald Trump’s economic adviser joined his wife on stage at the Paddle & Party for Pink, a benefit for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor. Her focus was drawing bids for paddle boards, including one by her with glittery green petals.
“They’re kind of heavy, but if you have a large man like I do who will carry it down to the dock for you -- I can send him over,” Pevaroff-Cohn said, “because he’s currently unemployed. My husband is unemployed at the moment. He’s looking for work.”
It was a perfectly delivered punchline, appreciated by the crowd with whoops and hollers, maybe with a tinge of envy, given the number of very employed people in attendance: from Jon Gray, a few months into his job as president of Blackstone Group, to Rhodes Scholar turned Penn Medicine immunologist Robert Vonderheide to Lilly Pulitzer chief Michelle Kelly.
Cohn, 57, himself gave an update on his life after disembarking from a electric red sports car on brief loan to the couple by Karma Revero, one of the event’s sponsors. He told the valet it was slow, compared with his Tesla.
“So I’ve been spending two thirds of my time out here, playing golf,” he said. “I’ve been working, been on the phone a bunch, looking for opportunities. I’m not on any boards officially as of this moment.”
Asked if he knew what he might do next, Cohn said, “Not really. I’m still exploring lots of different options. I’ve been to the West Coast, I travel quite a bit.”
He’s signed commitment letters on investments that he declined to identify -- his first since leaving President Trump’s administration.
One is in medical tech, a field he’s already invested in, at companies including Abyrx, which makes bone putties and other medical supplies, and Samumed, focused on tissue regeneration.
Another is “sort of in the cryptocurrency world,” he said. “I’m not keen on what’s going on. I’m keen on what I think could be the new world of crypto, but it’s got to have a use. It can’t just be a store valuation, there are other more practical ways to store value.”
He’s also looking at something in consumer products, a new area for him.
He’s signing on to provide money and advice; his criteria for investments is “great management, great opportunities and great ideas,” he said.
Some friends arrived, and an event staffer, getting ready to move the car the Cohns had pulled up in, handed Cohn his wife’s strappy silver sandals she planned to wear on stage later.
“We’re playing 30 questions,” Cohn quipped to artist Scott O’Neil.
On tariffs: “I"m not going to go there,” he said.
On Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s idea to cut taxes on capital gains: “It was an idea he came up with that got killed in 30 seconds or less, and it won’t last 30 seconds again.”
On David Solomon, who last month was anointed incoming chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, a position Cohn himself was in a holding position for before leaving for the Trump administration: “I hope he does a great job.”
What will Lloyd Blankfein do next? “I have no idea. Ask Lloyd.”
On Facebook: “It’s very interesting how the world turns,”" Cohn said, focusing on the ways the social media company has been a platform for fake news and influencing elections. “In ’08 Facebook was one of those companies that was a big platform to criticize banks, they were very out front of criticizing banks for not being responsible citizens. I think banks were more responsible citizens in ’08 than some of the social media companies are today. And it affects everyone in the world. The banks have never had that much pull.”
At this point, Rebecca Kobrin, a history professor at Columbia University working on a book on Jewish immigrant bankers titled “Credit to the Nation,” joined the conversation, telling Cohn he needs to write a book about his time in the Trump administration.
“I’m writing about my time in Washington already,” Cohn said. “Look, I rewrote tax reform, which hadn’t been done in 31 years. I’ve been talking into my tape recorder lots and lots and lots and lots of hours. I’m afraid when I listen to it it might be the same thing 35 times. But I’m going to give someone literally thousands of hours of tape.”
He said he’s happy about the tax plan passed by Congress in December. “In Washington nothing’s perfect, so I’m not thinking it’s perfect, it’s never going to be perfect. But the fact that we got something really important done, which is corporate tax reform, which made us competitive with the rest of the world, is good."
Having a break from such matters has its perks. “My golf game’s improved,” he said.
“He hasn’t had this much time off since high school," Pevaroff-Cohn added. “And he’s having a good time.”
“I’m having a great time,” he said.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.