white men with money and charitable instincts

New Goldman Sachs CFO Is an Eat, Pray, Love Character

Harvey Schwartz, Indonesian folk hero. Photo: Dustin Wayne Harris/Patrick McMullan

To the list, “People Other Than Mitt Romney to Whom Goldman Sachs Employees Have Given Money,” you can now add Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert.

Bloomberg reveals today, in a profile of incoming Goldman CFO Harvey Schwartz, that Schwartz once wrote Gilbert a check for $10,000 to help buy a house for her Indonesian friend and ended up in her book as a result. Schwartz had never met Gilbert, or her friend, but had his heart-strings plucked when an e-mail about the house-buying project made its way to his girlfriend, Annie Hubbard.

A little digging in EPL turned up the relevant passage — a scene in which Gilbert, parked in Indonesia on the “Love” portion of her journey, mass e-mails her friends back in America to ask for their help doing a solid for an Indonesian friend:

I told everyone that my birthday was coming up in July and that soon I would be turning thirty-five. I told them that there was nothing in this world that I needed or wanted, and that … a cheaper and more lovely way to help celebrate this birthday would be if my friends and family would care to make a donation to help a woman named Wayan Nuriyasih buy a house in Indonesia for herself and her children.

Schwartz to the rescue! (Emphasis mine.)

Everyone gave. People whom I personally knew to be broke or in debt gave, without hesitation. One of the first responses I got was from a friend of my hairdresser’s girlfriend, who’d been forwarded the e-mail and wanted to donate $15. My most wise-ass friend John had to make a typically sarcastic comment, of course, about how long and sappy and emotional my letter had been (“Listen—next time you feel the need to cry about spilled milk, make sure it’s condensed, will ya?”), but then he donated money anyway. My friend Annie’s new boyfriend (a Wall Street banker whom I’d never even met) offered to double the final sum of whatever was raised.

In return for his unprompted generosity, Schwartz got his name in the acknowledgments of a best-selling book. (Gilbert thanks, among others, “Annie Hubbard and the almost-unbelievable Harvey Schwartz.”) He also got a place to stay whenever he’s in the area. Gilbert writes of Wayan Nuriyasih’s eventual response to the outpouring of donations:

Her first really articulate response (I mean, even before she burst into tears because she realized she was going to be able to have a garden) was to urgently say, “Please, Liz, you must explain to everyone who helped raise money that this is not Wayan’s house. This is the house of everyone who helped Wayan. If any of these people comes to Bali, they must never stay in a hotel, OK? You tell them they come and stay at my house, OK?

Good for Schwartz. Not only did he move Goldman up a notch or two in the universal karma league tables, but he added “suite at the Bali Hilton” to the list of expenses Goldman can cut, should his new CFO duties ever take him to Indonesia.

New Goldman Sachs CFO Is in Eat, Pray, Love