By Lieba Nesis
Having covered the Manhattan nightlife for over a decade one thing is certain if nightlife impresario Richie Akiva, jeweler to the stars Lorraine Schwartz, billionaire gallerist Helly Nahmad and model lover and Monot creative director Eli Mizrahi are the event chairs for a dinner at Casa Cipriani the house will be filled with the most beautiful A-list luminaries in the world.
On Thursday June 23, 2022 the First ever Moonlight Gala was held beginning at 7 PM to benefit C.A.R.E. an organization developed in 2013 by Meyer and Victoria Safdieh to address the needs of special children by supporting them and their entire family. The crowd as I anticipated was nothing short of extraordinary: it looked more like a Cannes red carpet than a Thursday in downtown New York-as one modelesque glamazon after another posed on the red carpet.
Being that owner of Casa Cipriani,Michael Cayre, was hosting the evening it was predictable the hall was decked out in balloons with a thirty person band-more reminiscent of an opulent Syrian wedding than a charity function. Even the honorees were stratospheric with crypto superstars Ivan Soto Wright who founded $3.4 billion MoonPay and Sam Bankman Fried the head of FTX. The 30-year-old Fried is now worth a measly $11.3 billion since the crypto debacle and showed up in a T-shirt and shorts, perhaps he can no longer afford a suit or maybe he is so wealthy he just doesn’t give a damn.
It is hard to fathom, as Richie Akiva stated, that this event was pulled together in 3 weeks when he and some of his billionaire friends decided it would be a great idea to raise funds when the crypto conference was in town. Doesn’t it seem as if every other week there is a crypto, Bitcoin, or NFT conference? Miraculously, less than a month later 450 people came to hotspot Casa Cipriani where tickets were $5,000 a piece and you were able to hobnob with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Gigi Hadid, Evan Mock and Miguel-or at least see them nearby.
The event was MC’d by the entertaining Harry Adjmi a pillar of the Syrian Jewish community who shared many hilarious tidbits including displaying a hat given to him by Giorgio Armani for spending lots of money at his store, or that he hates jewelry so he gave his epic blue Patek Philippe watch to his son, or that his Omega watch was sent to the moon with Buzz Aldrin. If Adjmi wasn’t such a successful businessman a career in comedy might be an option-it is hard to believe this boisterous import king barely survived a treacherous bout with Covid that left him on a respirator for two weeks in March 2020.
Adjmi introduced the ubiquitous Eric Adams who received scant applause and whose speaking game was off. Adams attends close to a dozen social events a week and has become as famous for his expert oratory skills as he is for fraternizing with the uber wealthy. The Post reported he flubbed his lines the night before where I saw him at a Zuma dinner and this evening he was again slower and less on point than usual-indicating that attempting to run a city and maintain a social schedule busier than Brooke Astor might not be the best idea. My advice to Eric is go to sleep before 3 AM and try to rest up because the next day there will be at least 5 shootings and subway pushings to address-even if you do look smashing in a suit.
Adams goaded the crowd to dig deep into their pockets to help special needs children and extolled New York City where a dishwasher could become a restaurateur and in his case a dyslexic student could become mayor. Richie Akiva similarly admitted he was on the spectrum and had trouble reading as a child; kudos to this superstar who is the undisputed nightlife King of New York. I even had the chance to speak with founder of MoonPay and honoree Ivan Soto whose company has attained a $3.4 billion capitalization in 3 years and who was sporting an epic Tom Ford custom tuxedo with decked out Gucci shoes. Soto came as a guest of his good friend Michael Cayre and admitted he had recently relocated from the West Village to a $38 million home on North Bay Road in Miami because Miami had “good energy.”-I would say the same about this crypto pioneer.
The evening proceeded smoothly with a delectable meal of Branzino and Rigatoni an endive salad and the ubiquitous Cipriani vanilla creme meringue and chocolate cake-I made an imminent appointment with my dentist by text. We also had the chance to hear from Meyer and Victoria Safdieh who founded the organization over a decade ago which helps support over 500 families so the special needs population is no longer alone. Their heartbreaking story of having two developmentally disabled children was emotionally relayed as they decided to channel their bitterness to fuel them to do good. A moving video was shown depicting the organization’s support of struggling children along with a lengthy live auction where Jacob the Jeweler donated a $350,000 Astronomia Solar watch that sold for $260,000-bargains can be picked up at these events.
Jacob told me he was excited to be amongst New Yorkers after Covid and that his business was brisker than ever. The evening concluded with superstar Miguel wowing the crowd with half a dozen hits who then headed downstairs at 11:30 PM for a separate after party. I left the after party when Gigi Hadid, (who has been an outspoken critic of Israel but worked on this dinner for the past ten days) arrived with her bodyguard in tow flashing a light in anyone’s face who bothered her, while DiCaprio, who was seated at her table slowly made his way to the venue with his typical mask and baseball cap in tow-highlighting the unfortunate reality that celebrities are not like the rest of us.