Christie’s threw a party on the plaza of the Seagram Building Saturday night, next to the giant yellow Urs Fischer teddy bear it is auctioning on Wednesday, with an estimate of $10 million.
Party planners had no problem coming up with decor to match the spectacle of the artwork: They created a super-sized jack-in-the-box. Every 20 minutes or so, a clown dressed in blue and red polka dots or a woman dressed as a little girl in pink popped up, launched by a trampoline hidden from view.
Guests in attendance included architect Terence Riley, who made fun of the fluorescent yellow wrist band he’d been given at the door (“This is so Miami”); Sloan Barnett, the author of “Green Goes With Everything,” a guide to an ecologically sound lifestyle; and Danielle and David Ganek, the managing partner of Level Global Investors LP, one of the hedge funds raided by the FBI in November as part of an insider-trading probe. The fund announced in February it would close and return cash to clients.
“The artist was here. He didn’t come in. To him, it isn’t about this party,” said Brett Gorvy, international co-head and deputy chairman, postwar and contemporary art, at Christie’s.
Gorvy was standing in front of the 35,000-pound teddy bear, “Untitled (Lamp/Bear).” He took care to explain that the party wasn’t about marketing the sculpture. Rather, the sculpture was “an excuse to have a celebration.”
Yet, really, the only thing Gorvy wanted to talk about was Fischer’s teddy (he’d like to see it permanently installed as a public sculpture in a city), or his own.
“To tell you the truth, I had a teddy rather late in my life,” said Gorvy, holding a glass of pink grapefruit juice. “I was 16, in the hospital. My mother gave it to me, and now my daughter has it. Its name is A.G. Bear, and it’s yellow.”
Donald Rubell, the Miami hotelier and art collector, could not recall his childhood teddy. “My grandkids think I’m a teddy bear,” he said.
At the Brants
The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, in Greenwich, Connecticut, was the setting for an art party on Saturday afternoon hosted by Peter Brant, the chief executive officer of White Birch Paper Co. and owner of Brant Publications.
In one corner of Brant’s vast lawn that includes a polo field, racks of lamb were roasting around a wood fire, tended by a few men with long-handled shovels. To the left was a white tent filled with white flowers and picnic tables (lunch would soon be served). Near the tent, artist Maya Lin was perched on one of the white cushions dotting the lawn, watching Jeff Koons’s kids play soccer.
“It’s a little flat,” Lin, creator of an undulating landscape at the Storm King Art Center, said of the terrain before here. “Let’s dig it up.” (She didn’t.)
Many guests were congregating on the terrace of the rustic stone building at the entrance to the property, filled with new paintings by Josh Smith. Naomi Campbell greeted dealer Tony Shafrazi and Justine Koons.
Inside, Stephanie Seymour stood in front of one of the massive canvases, and Brant, her husband, walked through with Russian billionaire Vladislav Doronin.
Also present: Greek billionaire Dakis Joannou; artists Rob Pruitt, David LaChapelle and Maurizio Cattelan; dealers Larry Gagosian and Stellan Holm, collector Adam Lindemann (who keeps his Urs Fischer teddy bear on the grounds of his Montauk, Long Island, estate), and Joachim Pissarro, a professor of art history at Hunter College. Julian Schnabel showed up in purple pajamas, smoking a cigarette.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)