The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation held its 20th Anniversary “Collaborating for a Cure Gala” at Cipriani Wall Street with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. This event was spearheaded by Bear Stearns employee Michael Nierenberg 20 years ago who learned the concept of giving back from CEO Ace Greenberg. Nierenberg has made this a go-to event on the calendar of 800 Wall Streeters raising more than $50 Million over the years to fund the research of scientists who have developed a cure for a devastating form of leukemia and made tremendous progress in treating melanoma, liver, prostate and breast cancers. The foundation which was founded by renowned oncologist Samuel Waxman in 1976 seeks to eradicate cancer by funding cutting-edge research which identifies and corrects abnormal gene function that causes cancer. The research is the basis for developing minimally toxic treatment for patients.
The Waxman Foundation has awarded approximately $90 million since its inception to support the work of more than 200 researchers around the globe. Collaborating with world class scientists through its program “The Institute Without Walls” investigators share tools and research to improve the pace of cancer research. Tonight a posthumous award was given to William Gorin, CEO of MFA Financial Inc., who lost his two-year battle with pancreatic cancer this past August. His wife Jody tearfully recalled his bravery in confronting the disease as emcee Chris Wragge, co-anchor of CBS 2 News This Morning, remarked on all the incredible people whose lives were lost to cancer this past year.
After cocktails and dinner Auctioneer Hugh Hildesley, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s NY, held an auction where $10,000 worth of John Varvatos items were given to a lucky bidder for $9,500. This is one of the only dinners that auctions off a dog and this year it was an adorable Cockapoo who was first bid on for $11,000 and when the bidder disappeared a substitute bidder took the dog for $9,000. Some other items that received exorbitant prices were two tickets to Bruce Springsteen on Broadway which went for $17,000 and a six-person dinner at Rao’s which fetched $21,000. While at the gala, I had the privilege of sitting near auctioneer Hugh Hildesley and asked how much he was paid to conduct the auction. His response was surprising informing me that he conducts 60 charity auctions a year for free helping to raise more than $20 million this year and more than $200 million in the past 20 years for various organizations. Hildesley has been assisting charities for 45 years and remarked that it was hard work. He also expressed surprise at the recent sale of the Da Vinci for $400 million by his main competitor Christie’s and recalled that Sotheby’s had sold the Da Vinci to a European buyer years ago.
Hildesley said Sotheby’s does $6 to $8 billion a year in sales but you “are only as good as your next sale” he remarked, while he kept confidential the identity of prominent collectors. Hildesley is an excellent auctioneer and his British accent lends a certain gravitas to the process. After the business portion of the evening was conducted, including a silent auction and an extremely efficient process of texting pledges to a telephone number with your name appearing on the screen, guests were treated to a delicious vanilla ice cream dessert and the lively performance of The Avett Brothers. Nierenberg informed me that more than $2 million had been raised this evening as he and his wife Elin joyfully embraced.
By: Lieba Nesis