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Hamptons Chainsmokers concert DJ'ed by Goldman CEO is under investigation

Cuomo urges young people to social-distance 09:22

The chief executive of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon — who moonlights as a dance party DJ with the stage name DJ D-Sol — was the opening act at an electronic dance party in the Hamptons that is under investigation for allegedly attracting thousands of attendees who may have violated New York's social distancing requirements. 

A spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed to CBS MoneyWatch that New York State's Department of Health is investigating the charity event, as well as the party's organizer, the venue that hosted it and the town officials who signed off on it. 

An executive order by Cuomo prohibits non-essential gatherings in excess of 50 people. It was signed in March to help stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 150,000 Americans.

On Tuesday, New York State's health commissioner, Howard Zucker, sent a letter to the town supervisor of Southampton, where the party was held, notifying him that the event was under investigation.

In the letter, Zucker said he was "greatly disturbed" by a number of reports about the party, which was supposed to be a "drive-in" concert but that ultimately involved "thousands of people in close proximity" outside of their cars. 

Cuomo, in a tweet, shared a video of the party and slammed it for "egregious social distancing violations." Cuomo said he was "appalled."

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, a Goldman Sachs spokesperson said of CEO Solomon: "David agreed to participate in an event for charity in which the organizers worked closely with the local government and put strict health protocols in place. He performed early and left before the show ended. The vast majority of the audience appeared to follow the rules, but he's troubled that some violated them and put themselves and others at risk."

A spokesperson for one of the party's organizers, In the Know Experiences, said "the criticism based on a two second video does not accurately depict the entire event." The spokesperson added that the fundraising event "followed the guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made best efforts to ensure New York's social distancing guidelines were properly maintained throughout the event."

A Buzzfeed story on the concert quoted a number of partygoers who said they felt safe and the organizer of the party seemed to have followed social distancing guidelines.

Made $25 million in his day job last year

Solomon was paid nearly $25 million in 2019 by Goldman Sachs, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but he also has long moonlighted as an electronic dance party DJ. 

Solomon became CEO of Goldman in October 2018, taking over for Lloyd Blankfein. Goldman's former CEO early on in the pandemic advocated for a quicker reopening of the economy.

Some observers of Goldman have speculated that Solomon edged past other candidates to be CEO because both his hobby and personality seemed to hold the possibility of softening the image of the Wall Street bank, which was famously called a "vampire squid" during the financial crisis by a writer for Rolling Stone. 

But in the age of COVID-19, a hobby like DJing large parties, if not done virtually, is the type of task that can quickly get you in trouble.

Solomon was the opening act for the Saturday evening party, which was called Safe & Sound and promised to "set the bar" for dance parties in the coronavirus era. 

Tickets started at $225 a head

Tickets, which started at $225 per person, gave attendees a socially distanced parking spot. Party-goers were told to wear a mask to the bathroom, got their temperature checked and were supposed to stay near their cars. 

A special $25,000 VIP package included a private RV for about 10 guests. About 2,000 people showed up to the party, including socialites and financial professionals, according to Bloomberg News.

The event's organizers said proceeds would be donated to number of charities, including No Kid Hungry, Southampton Fresh Air Home and Children's Medical Fund of New York.

Videos of the event, which were posted on social media, including the one that was retweeted by Cuomo, seemed to show many people out of their cars and close together near the stage. Solomon went on at 8:00 p.m. and performed for an hour. He was followed by the Chainsmokers, a popular two-person DJ group from Germany.

In the letter to town officials, New York's health commissioner said he wanted to know if the party was properly permitted and whether the town policed and enforced social distancing guidelines.

"I am at a loss as to how the Town of Southampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat," Zucker wrote in the letter.

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