“I want to know how he got all those girls naked,” said artist Kenny Scharf over dinner last night at the Waverly Inn, nodding to photographer Sante D’Orazio.
Earlier in the evening, Scharf, Salman Rushdie and John Phelan, co-founder of MSD Capital LP, attended an opening for D’Orazio at Christie’s. Titled “Other Graces,” the exhibition features his large-scale images of Stephanie Seymour, Pamela Anderson and Cindy Crawford, all in the buff.
The show is the first photography exhibition organized by Christie’s private-sales group, with prices ranging from $60,000 to $90,000.
“There’s no vulgarity in any of this nudity,” said Inga Rubenstein, a collector and co-host of the dinner, which drew Lisa Dennison, chairman of Sotheby’s North and South America, the shoe designer Brian Atwood and writer Carole Radziwill. “That’s why we all go for it.”
Rubenstein posed for D’Orazio in nothing but Graff jewelry and Jimmy Choo stilettos.
“It’s a trust thing,” said Julius Poole, who has helped D’Orazio with casting and production on photo shoots with Diana Ross and Kim Cattrall. “Sante wants everyone to have a fun time. Then the shirts come off, the panties come off and they are rolling naked in the grass.”
“When we started the shoot at 8 a.m. I was 50 percent dressed,” Rubenstein said. “Eight hours and a bottle of champagne later, he gave me a choice: in lingerie or naked. Of course I took it all off.”
So what’s D’Orazio’s secret to getting women naked?
“I just smile like my mother has told me,” he said.
As for the fully clothed subjects, like Brooke Shields, she gave up a different secret: his mom’s cooking. Maria D’Orazio, 90, is still serving up calzoni, pasta and biscotti from her kitchen in Brooklyn, where Sante was raised.
“Oh my god, she’s the best cook,” Shields said. As for Sante: “He absolutely adores his subjects. He makes you feel at your most appealing, beautiful and expressive.”
There’s also male eye candy in the show: Johnny Depp in what looks like a towel, Axl Rose with only a strategically placed skull. But some of the most striking photographs star male artists dressed in priestly robes. Edward J. Minskoff, New York-based real-estate developer, has one of Ed Ruscha. It hangs in a colleague’s office “to watch over him,” Minskoff said. “He oversees construction.”
(Katya Kazakina is a reporter and Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are their own.)
Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard and Philip Boroff on theater, Richard Vines on dining.