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Friedman continues Goldman-Mount Sinai connection

By A. James Memmott

May 9, 2010 at 10:14am

Goldman Sachs makes money, too much money many people contend.

Less controversially, Goldman and its officials for years have given money away.

Indeed, the firm’s presence in New York City has meant millions for that city’s not-for-profit institutions.

The latest eye-popping transfer of wealth was a $20-million gift to Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York by Richard A. Friedman, the head of Goldman’s merchant banking division, and his wife, Susan.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the money will establish the Friedman Brain Institute at the center.

Richard Friedman, 52, graduated from Brown University in 1979 and received an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1981.

After that, he joined Goldman, becoming a partner in 1990 and a managing director in 1996.

In addition to serving on the Mount Sinai board, he is a trustee at Brown, where he and his wife have also made significant gifts.

Friedman is also a member of the board of directors of the Hyatt Hotel Corporation.

And he’s the chairman of the board of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, LLC, the broadcaster of New York Yankees baseball games and New Jersey Nets basketball games.

Friedman told the Journal that his gift to Mount Sinai reflected his family’s connection to the institution and the long-standing relationship between Goldman and the medical center.

The Goldman Sachs link to Mount Sinai goes back to Samuel Sachs, who joined his father-in-law Walter Goldman’s company in 1882. Two years later, the firm became Goldman & Sachs.

Samuel’s brother Harry went to work at Goldman & Sachs in the mid-1890s.

Their brother, the neurologist Bernard Sachs, was a consultant at Mount Sinai who helped identify the genetic disorder that became known as Tay-Sachs disease.

Samuel and Harry were donors to Mount Sinai. Included in their contributions was a 1914 gift of $125,000 to establish a neurological ward, the equivalent of a $2.6 million donation today.

Gustave L. Levy, a former senior partner at Goldman, was also connected to Mount Sinai, joining the medical center’s board in 1960. He was serving as Mount Sinai’s chairman when he died in 1976 at age 66.

Levy was a major donor and fund-raiser not only for Mount Sinai but also for the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.

In 2007, Friedman received that organization’s Gustave L. Levy Award, an annual recognition of philanthropic leadership in the financial community.

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s CEO, has been a significant contributor to the UJA-Federation of New York as well as to the Robin Hood Foundation, which funds anti-poverty programs in New York City.

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs was considering a program that requires its top executives to give to charity.

The newspaper described the move as an effort to offset the negative reaction to the firm’s bonuses for 2009 - $595,000 per employee.

Goldman officials did not comment on the Times report.

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