A few weeks ago after watching another dismal day of stock market losses with a retrenching S+P and declining Dow my thoughts turned to the adage I heard my first summer on the trading desk from both veteran floor traders and investment bankers alike, "Sell in May and Go away!"
So as a tenured financier I fell back on habit and stood on ceremony and decided to do what financiers do in the summer season: Head to the Hamptons (for a fundraiser)!
Like most veterans unable to definitively determine market direction, I figured that I would take solace in watching fellow market professionals shrug their shoulders and look quizzically as we collectively agreed that we didn't know exactly how long this conundrum would continue.
With that I called my friend and hedge fund manager Bruce Lipnick of Asset Alliance and asked him to attend an important fundraiser (along with paying a $1000.00 contribution for a ticket) for a very worthy cause.
Sometimes suffering in comfort with friends can be extremely soothing. I'm sure that there are some who will take umbrage with the use of the words suffering and Hamptons in the same breath--but if you are in finance, believe me--you are suffering.
This weekend's event was especially important because the focus was a non-profit...as many of the social gatherings are. This event was of particular importance to me and was being held in tony East Hampton at an oceanfront estate of my personal friend for over a decade, Mrs. Loida N. Lewis.
Mrs. Lewis is the widow of my business idol, Reginald F. Lewis (RFL-anyone who knows me has to hear this name constantly). This event is held as a memorial for RFL. Loida began hosting the event 3 years ago for the man I affectionately call "The Progenitor" because he inspired and influenced so many in my generation to go to Wall Street or to become entrepreneurs. Mr. Lewis personified the American Dream and although coming from humble origins in Baltimore, transformed himself into a business titan and completed the largest LBO ever completed on Wall Street to acquire a billion dollar enterprise using only $1 million dollars of his own money. A feat never matched since.
Loida created the event to memorialize RFL while also highlighting talented entrepreneurs and providing them a setting to network amongst each other. The efforts in this memorial celebration worked in conjunction with her collective efforts of donating one of the largest grants to Harvard to create the Lewis International Law Center at Harvard Law School per the instructions of Mr. Lewis.
Mrs. Lewis also gave a $5 million dollar donation to create modern Reginald F. Lewis African American History Museum in Baltimore and helped to create one of the finest museums in the east coast, per the instructions of RFL as well.
I had the honor of serving on the host committee and the distinct honor of introducing Loida to the award recipient of the RFL Legacy award: R. Donohue Peebles. Don Peebles is a dynamic businessman who built a $4B real estate empire from scratch. Don was recently honored as one of the top 10 wealthiest African Americans in the United States and was ranked number 9.
The event also honored the only living World War II Ace and legendary business innovator, Lee A. Archer. Mr. Archer worked for General Foods Corporation and was the person responsible for initially hiring Mr. Lewis (read his law firm, Lewis & Clarkson) and subsequently gave him his initial view of the deal table as a participant. Mr. Archer also served on the board of TLC Beatrice and was one of RFL's trusted advisors.
The event was a huge success with over 350 people in attendance with a high number of high profile business people and celebrities alike in attendance. Despite the forecast for rain, we were blessed with a beautiful day befitting the magnamity of the event. I would highly encourage everyone to investigate this event for yourselves, in the oft used vernacular of entertainment people...it is amazing! Anyone interested in attending the event next year should visit the website at:
Picture: Bruce Lipnick, Loida M. Lewis and Shawn Baldwin