Last night was a big night for both the American Century
] team and for cancer charity fundraising in general. And the same event provided evidence that hanging out with BlackRock's
] senior leadership is worth six figures.
| Jonathan Thomas|
American Century Investments
Fundsters, broker-dealer executives, and other financial services insiders gathered in New York City last night for the American Cancer Society's
10th annual Financial Services Cares Gala
. This year the event outgrew its prior space, Cipriani, and transplanted to a giant ballroom at the Hilton New York Midtown in Manhattan.
American Century CEO Jonathan Thomas
accepted the gala's third "Distinguished Service Award" on behalf of the teams of his mutual fund firm and of its sibling, the Stowers Institute. American Century founder Jim Stowers, who died last year, donated most of his net worth to fund the institute and changed American Century's ownership such that more than 40 percent (more than $1 billion so far) of the fund shop's dividends go to funding the institute's research into fighting cancer. Dr. David Chao
, the institute's president and CEO, was also on-hand to talk about the institute.
| Robert S. Kapito|
The gala also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit the American Cancer Society (whose new CEO, Gary Reedy
, shared a few words) and Columbia University's Hopes & Heroes
(which researches childhood cancer and blood disorders). By MFWire's
estimation, Wall Streeters shelled out at least $700,000 (if not more) for the big ticket auction items. And that doesn't count donations via the app (north of $150,000), winning bids in the silent auction, or the sponsorship and ticket prices people and firms paid to get in the door in the first place.
In the first nine years of the gala, Wall Streeters raised more than $9.3 million net, including nearly more than $946,000 net at last year's event.
The big ticket items this time around had a distinctly BlackRock flavor. Someone donated $300,000 for an eight-person dinner at BlackRock president Rob Kapito's
house, and that dinner will be: cooked by Kapito, with BlackRock managing director Richie Prager
serving as sommelier and BlackRock personnel as waitstaff.
Two people paid $75,000 each for sporting clays (sometimes called "golf with a shotgun"), and lunch, with Prager. Someone paid $135,000 for the chance to pit their best four golfers against Kapito and three other BlackRock golfers at the Westchester Country Club. A lucky bidder paid $100,000 for dinner (and wine) for four with Kapito and Prager at the exclusive NYC Italian restaurant RAO's.
And two people shelled out $6,000 each for Pharrell-style hats. Kapito and Prager (who emceed) wore the hats during their opening gala rendition (with assistance from some professional singer/dancer-types) of Pharrell's famous "Happy" song, and the comedian/auctioneer onstage said that the duo would sign the hats, too.
Another big ticket auction item: $25,000 for two days of golf and dinner (accommodations included) in Clearwater Beach, Florida with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
chief John Thiel
(who also spoke at the gala) and Franklin Templeton
North American advisory services chief Peter Jones
The gala featured a three-course dinner (crab cake, filet mignon [or salmon or lasagna], "the chocolate box", wine, and an open bar. There was also a "Wall Street's Got Talent" competition, with competitors from five firms. Gala attendees voted via their smart phones, and Credit Suisse's Steve DeLisi
won for his rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." The Goldman Sachs
Benchmark Notes performed Queen's "Somebody to Love", Deutsche Bank's Kevin Burke
performed Coldplay's "Viva La Vita", KPMG's Missy Keane
performed "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" cabaret (not cabernet) style, and a group from Morgan Stanley
performed Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight."
The big individual honoree of the evening was Deborah Wright
, chairman of the board of Carver Bancorp (and board member for Voya
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