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Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- “I’ve seen ’em,” said Paul Tudor Jones of the pythons that eat mammals from rabbits to deer in Everglades National Park.
“I’m not afraid,” ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons added of the reptile, which isn’t venomous.
The hedge-fund manager and the rocker talked snake at the eighth annual Everglades Foundation benefit, held a few days after a month-long python hunt organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“The only thing scarier than pythons is letting thousands of rednecks with guns go shoot the pythons -- and I say that as a redneck,” said Carl Hiaasen, whose next book, “Bad Monkey,” comes out in June.
Pythons are the least of the Everglades’ troubles, Hiaasen said. “The problem is pollution,” he said, “stuff coming off the sugar fields for 60 years.”
“It’s us,” said singer Jimmy Buffett.
The Feb. 15 event at the Breakers in Palm Beach raised more than $2 million to restore “the heart of Florida’s ecosystem and economy,” said Tudor Jones, the chairman and chief executive officer of Tudor Investment Corp. in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Among the 600 guests were Peter Kiernan of Kiernan Ventures LLC, music executive Tommy Mottola, and Mario Gabelli, chief executive officer of Gamco Investors Inc.
Asked if he ever had a stock like the python -- one he had too much of and couldn’t eliminate -- Gabelli replied, “Too many.”
Kevin McCluskey, managing director of investments at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in Palm Beach, in a vintage Lilly Pulitzer jacket, said he once shot a rattlesnake and would be glad to hunt python, though he’s more of a sailor.
Ferns and gummy alligators in martini glasses were part of the Everglades-themed decor. For event designer Jay Bell of DeJuan Stroud Inc., the Spanish moss hanging from chandeliers recalled the beards of ZZ Top’s front men.
The Texas musicians performed after a dinner of mini-tacos, “redneck” short ribs, and brownie sundaes served in chocolate guitar cases. The band also inspired the suggested attire, “cheap sunglasses and legs.”
Highbridge Capital Management LLC co-founder Glenn Dubin kicked up a denim-clad thigh for a photograph. More ZZ Top-ready limbs belonged to his wife, Eva Dubin, and Kim Havlicek, wife of JPMorgan Private Wealth managing director and Palm Beach market manager Chris Havlicek.
Barbara Nicklaus had the funkiest sunglasses, with oval lenses decorated like pineapples. Her husband, Jack Nicklaus, the golfer and course designer, serves on the board of the Everglades Foundation with Tudor Jones, its chairman.
“He is unbelievably energetic,” Jack Nicklaus said. “When he believes in something, get out of the way.”
Jerry Seinfeld did 17 minutes of stand-up for the Everglades. In between riffs on the U.S. Post Office and Pop Tarts, he took aim at Florida’s Republican senator.
“Marco Rubio, that’s funny. What a moron,” the comedian said of the senator’s water grab during a speech after the State of the Union address.
“I’m sure he’s a fine man and a wonderful statesman and a brilliant mind,” Seinfeld said, “but just get the water afterwards. You know, it was the little water, that’s what was sad about it. It was the Poland Spring that big. How about a glass of chardonnay? Look like you don’t give a damn.”
Muse highlights include John Mariani on wine, Patrick Cole on music.
-- Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Manuela Hoelterhoff.