“Let them in, I’m only the host!” Leonard Riggio said on Friday night, to a guard stationed at his front door who had been asking arrivals to enter through the side porch.
The set-up at his home in Bridgehampton was for Guild Hall’s annual benefit. The chairman, founder and largest shareholder of Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) said he agreed to host the event out of affection for the artist Chuck Close.
The gala’s first stop was a viewing of a new Close exhibition at Guild Hall, an arts venue about seven miles down the road in East Hampton. Lou Reed -- who had a liver transplant in May -- posed in front of a tapestry based on a photograph of him, with Pace Gallery’s Arne Glimcher looking on.
Later Riggio stood in his foyer to welcome friends and strangers in front of an embroidered patchwork of color, one of five works by Alighiero Boetti on display. The Italian artist had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, last year.
Leading an informal tour, Riggio walked into the dining room, past Ed Ruscha’s “Era Ends,” hanging opposite Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.” Here too was a 1930s Murano chandelier hanging over the table and eight chairs.
The den featured an impressive wall of books and no discernible shelving system -- a Barnes & Noble customer’s nightmare.
A guide to magic was placed near a guide to Ireland’s golf courses, a history of American poetry and a Lee Child thriller.
As night fell, guests gathered for dinner. Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas sat with Melville Straus, chairman of Guild Hall and founder of Straus Asset Management LLC. Others included Morris Mark of Mark Asset Management Corp. and Lenard Tessler, of private equity company Cerberus Capital Management LP.
Michael Lynne, honored for leading Guild Hall’s museum committee, arranged for his Bedell Cellars wines on the tables, including a white with Barbara Kruger label art.
At the auction, two Cindy Sherman silver gelatin prints sold for $10,000, and an Eric Fischl painting of elegant people on the beach went for more than $120,000.
Baldwin turned down a request from Guild Hall executive director Ruth Appelhof to auction naming rights for his child, instead pushing a yacht ride with him as host.
“We’re gonna get smashed on a boat,” he said. It sold for more than $7,000.
This all took place under a tent on the front lawn not far from a Richard Serra sculpture, like those at Dia: Beacon, which Riggio helped build.
“Thanks for falling for that trick of paying the extra few bucks to get into the house,” Riggio joked with the 300 guests.
Louise Riggio said she and her husband bought the house in 1979, when the area still felt like the country. The property has 150-year-old horse-chestnut trees, she said.
And what of that new tree-saving gadget, the Nook e-reader? None had been spotted inside the house.
“Mine is by the bed,” she said.
Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay, brought their children Apple and Moses to Authors’ Night on Saturday, a fundraiser for East Hampton Library. Paltrow signed copies of her cookbook “It’s All Good,” with “love” and a heart. (Try the “Corn, Korean Style,” page 158.)
Martin took the kids around, and said hello to “Get Lucky” star Nile Rodgers, who wrote “Le Freak,” a memoir about his band Chic. Afterward, Paltrow was guest of honor at a dinner at the home of Spence classmate Carrie Karasyov and her husband, Sterne Agee media and entertainment senior analyst Vasily Karasyov, while art dealer Larry Gagosian hosted a dinner for music executive Clive Davis of Sony Corp.
The Library raises 10 percent of its operating budget from the event, said director Dennis Fabiszak.
And yes, Alec and Hilaria were there too.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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