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Jolted Wall Streeters Seek Night of Solace at Harlem’s Apollo Theater

By Amanda Gordon

US stocks entering a bear market at the close on Monday didn’t interfere with the party scene a few hours later at New York’s Apollo Theater.

The dance floor at the Apollo Theater benefit. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

“It probably brought more people out who needed relief,” Charles Phillips, chairman of the Apollo, said in an interview. “People were calling me all day about tickets.” 

But the sold-out event that honored Tyler Perry and merchant bank LionTree, with the Roots performing and Kenan Thompson orchestrating a “Black Jeopardy” skit, wasn’t just about the need for consolation. 

Carolyn and Mark Mason Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

“It’s a cause worth supporting in any market,” said Mark Mason, Citigroup’s chief financial officer, who was standing in the aisles with his wife Carolyn, an Apollo board member. 

On stage, almost everyone made a stop to touch the Tree of Hope, which thousands of entertainers have rubbed over the years for luck. 

Jarvis Hollingsworth, Tracy Maitland and Kim Hatchett-Maitland Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

But luck isn’t all you need to win Apollo’s Amateur Night or navigate the markets right now. 

“Diversify, diversify, diversify,” said Jarvis Hollingsworth, chairman of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. “That normally saves us. Everything is correlated and markets are tough now. We are all hoping our hedges will come through.”

“It’s too late to sell,” said Morgan Stanley’s Kim Hatchett-Maitland. “So we have to hang on for the ride.”

As for the Apollo’s coffers, the event raised $3.7 million, boosted by a $500,000 donation Perry made on the stage as he called for the audience to support a place so important in the history of Black culture and music. 

Taking care of the theater is a top priority, Phillips said. Additionally, the Apollo is expanding its footprint with the Victoria Theater a few doors down on 125th Street.

The evening ended with the dance floor jammed as DJ D-Nice spun Shannon’s “Let the Music Play.”

“If you’re going to go through the day with difficult choppy markets, it’s nice to end the evening at the Apollo Theater and what it stands for,” said LionTree founder Aryeh Bourkoff.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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