Andrew J. Hall, who’s building a farm empire in Vermont selling lavender soap and cider, last night bought a trip to handmade-cigar haven Cuba.
At an event supporting Tate acquisitions in the Americas, Hall bid $90,000 for a tour of the art scene in Havana, spurred on by auctioneer Simon de Pury. (Under U.S. Cuba-travel restrictions, visits for educational reasons are allowed.)
The package was donated by collector Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, who like Hall has a private museum; hers is in Miami, his in a converted dairy farm in Reading, Vermont.
A sail on Dakis and Lietta Joannou’s Jeff Koons-designed yacht, Guilty, went for $175,000 to Howard Rachofsky, a former partner at Regal Asset Management, and his wife, Cindy. They said their passengers would include John Phelan, co-managing partner at MSD Capital LP, and his wife, Amy.
The auction took place after sake-roasted halibut had been served to 650 guests in a former mail-sorting room at the James A. Farley Post Office, now an event space called Skylight at Moynihan Station.
Guests hosted artists at their tables. Paul Britton of Capstone Holdings Group LLC sat with Lawrence Weiner. Glenn Fuhrman, co-managing partner of MSD Capital, sat with Marilyn Minter. The Rachofskys sat with Sarah Morris and Wade Guyton.
John Studzinski, Blackstone Group LP senior managing director, sat with Martha Stewart at a table near that of Cuba-bound Hall, whose nonfarm activities include chief executive officer of Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s commodity-trading unit, Phibro.
The decor by David Stark was industrial-country: Large silver tubes hung from the ceiling like sculptures, while tables were decorated with individual stems of pink peonies. Honey from Fitting Creek Farm in Ghent, New York, was part of the “artisanal salad.”
There was a bit of a punk vibe too, as attendees from Monday night’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute fundraiser cross-fertilized the Tate affair.
Standing in for the Met ball’s tsarina, Anna Wintour of Conde Nast’s Vogue, was Glenda Bailey, editor of Hearst’s Harper’s Bazaar, who sat with Anne Hathaway, still blonde from the ball (her husband, Adam Shulman, said he approves).
Met gala co-chairman Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy escorted Marina Abramovic around the party. “The next collection is going to be happiness,” Tisci said. “Everybody was happy at the ball.”
Other designers in the house: Burberry’s Christopher Kane and Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa, who lamented that nobody seemed to notice the gray on the dress Katie Holmes wore to the Met Ball.
Tate scheduled the event to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair, opening today on Randall’s Island, and bringing to town an onslaught of art events, from a 303 Gallery opening for Rodney Graham in its new 8,000-square-foot space in Chelsea, to a viewing of Rob Pruitt’s last panda painting and benefits for the Noguchi Museum and the Kitchen.
Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, said the goal of the Tate Americas Foundation Artists Dinner was to help the museum become more international. The event raised more than $2 million, with a portion designed for a curatorial travel fund.
“The critical issue really is the fact that the artists talk to each other, and we have to follow that,” Serota said. “It doesn’t know continental boundaries, and so we have to find a way of replicating that in the museum.”
He is grateful that geography does not seem to define patronage of Tate, which operates the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern in London, as well as Tate Liverpool and outposts in Cornwall.
“It’s amazing to see how many people who live outside London think what happens in London matters to them,” Serota said.
“Every time I land I drop my stuff at the hotel and I just go straight to the Tate,” Sarah Jessica Parker said.
(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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