NEW YORK (Reuters) - For the first time in months, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was off the hotseat.
As Wall Street’s biggest hedge fund managers and top bankers flocked to a charity gala in New York Monday night, the buzz was all about JPMorgan Chase & Co’s disastrous trading losses and the pressure on CEO Jamie Dimon.
“He screwed up,” one hedge fund manager said tersely, referring to Dimon while dissecting how JPMorgan, the country’s biggest bank, suffered at least $2 billion in trading losses.
Dimon did not attend the annual Robin Hood Foundation party, but Blankfein was there, enjoying a rare night out of the spotlight. He shook hands, introduced his wife and, grinning broadly, posed for pictures.
For months, Goldman Sachs has been portrayed as the callous Wall Street behemoth whose executives collected giant bonuses while America’s housing crisis worsened and unemployment rose.
But Monday night was different.
“No one cares about Lloyd tonight. It is Jamie against the world, and that’s got to feel good for Lloyd,” another hedge fund manager said.
Generally, everyone was on his best behavior, and the day’s most pressing questions gave way to small talk; men who often bet against each other heartily slapped each other on the back.
Greenlight Capital founder David Einhorn cracked jokes, Och-Ziff Chairman Dan Och sipped red wine, SAC’s Steve Cohen jumped to his feet to applaud football player Eli Manning’s speech about helping the poor, and George Soros enjoyed a tete a tete with fund manager Paul Tudor Jones.
Mixing with the Wall Street crowd were political stars including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and U.S. House of Representatives majority leader Eric Cantor; mind-body medicine pioneer Deepak Chopra; Michael Mullen, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; former President Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea; and Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein.
Besides seeing and being seen, the crowd of nearly 4,000 was there to be entertained and open their wallets. Neil Young, the sexagenarian singer-songwriter, belted out “Heart of Gold” as the evening’s mystery musical guest. Pop star Rihanna followed.
By the end of the evening, the millionaires and billionaires in attendance had raised $57.4 million for the charity, 19 percent more than the $47 million raised a year ago.
Comedian Seth Meyers joked to the crowd that the captains of industry and finance would soon be vying to catch a cab home. “It will be the most flustered rich people have been since trying to leave the Titanic,” he said.
Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Katya Wachtel; editing by John Wallace