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L.A. Contemporary Art Museum Postpones Gala Amid Turmoil

Jeffrey Deitch
Jeffrey Deitch, the director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Source: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art via Bloomberg

The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles isn’t in a party mood this year.

The downtown institution, rocked by the departures of board members, won’t hold a gala in 2012, according to an e-mail from the museum. Past events have included performances by Lady Gaga, Beck and Deborah Harry.

The annual soiree, usually held in November, has been the museum’s largest fundraiser, tax filings show. The 2011 gala, which raised $2.5 million, was directed by performance artist Marina Abramovic and featured live nude models rotating on tables, while guests including Pamela Anderson, Kirsten Dunst and Will Ferrell dined in white lab coats.

“This year’s MOCA gala is scheduled for the spring,” according to the e-mail from the museum. “Date to be announced shortly.” The museum’s fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30.

MOCA, which has a collection of almost 6,000 art works, has seen at least seven board members quit this year, including artists Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari. Some current and former directors have challenged the influence of billionaire Eli Broad, who stepped in to save the museum with a $30 million pledge in 2008.

Resigning trustees have been critical of the museum under Jeffrey Deitch, a former New York gallery owner now serving as director, and were supporters of Paul Schimmel, the longtime chief curator who resigned on June 29. After initially saying Deitch would act as curator, the executive committee of MOCA’s board said last month that it would hire a new curator.

Broad, a MOCA co-founder, had been holding back some of his pledged contributions. He agreed last month to become current on those payments, Karen Denne, a spokeswoman said.

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