Madonna gave Cindy Sherman a smooch inside the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art last night as the dinner portion of its “Party in the Garden” fundraiser wound down.
Across the room Leo DiCaprio in a newsboy cap swept past Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Mary Erdoes, chief executive officer of asset management at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Both had been to the Robin Hood benefit the night before.
Daniel Craig, the actor who now plays James Bond, and Steve McQueen, the artist and director of the Academy Award best picture-winning “12 Years a Slave,” lingered at their tables, which offered a surprisingly beautiful display of dinner detritus.
On still-pristine white cloths, unstemmed glasses were filled to various levels of dark red and rose wines from the North Fork’s Bedell Cellars. There were espresso cups on saucers, a lot of candles and plants as centerpieces. There were also candles from Anthropologie giving the room the scent of “peeled naval orange.”
As for dessert, some major and minor dents had been left in coconut-covered snowball-shaped cakes. Yes, they looked exactly like Hostess Sno Balls and for me they remain a fitting symbol of an evening that was high-powered, low-key, easy and comfortable, a gathering that felt like a private party.
“I see a lot of friendship and camaraderie here,” Paula Crown, an artist and head of the museum’s education committee, wearing an incredible Chanel dress, said at her table with Michael Cavanagh standing near. (He, by the way, passed on the coconut cake, instead ordering fruit to be “good” about his diet during his hiatus before joining Carlyle Group LP as co-president in July.)
The hospitality felt Southern, which made sense since one of the party’s chairmen, Alice Tisch, is from Atlanta. She sat with her longtime friend from Savannah, Ann Tenenbaum.
Also mingling among familiars were Anne Dias Griffin, managing partner of Aragon Global Management LLC, Henry Kravis and Marie-Josee Kravis (president of the museum), Steve Cohen, and museum board members Glenn Dubin, Daniel Och, Michael Ovitz and Maja Oeri (who was honored).
And, on a night when a few blocks away Christie’s sold $745 million worth of art, the event drew Richard Perry, Michael Eisner, and museum life trustees David Rockefeller and Don Marron.
Marron, who runs Lightyear Capital LLC, said his latest art acquisition is an abstract painting by Mark Bradford, which is hanging in his office in the Seagram Building.
Marron, Ovitz and Ann Temkin, MoMA chief curator of the department of painting and sculpture, all confirmed museum acquisitions completed Monday: a 28-foot-tall pink rose by Isa Genzken and two sets of conjoined puffy figures by Thomas Schutte.
These sculptures were the stars of the other location for the party, the museum’s garden, which curator Leah Dickerman said is “one of the most beautiful galleries in the museum.”
On this night it was also the site of cocktails for the dinner guests, and a dance party starting at 9 p.m. for a whole new set of pretty young things like model Zuzanna Buchwald, Natasha Prince, who works for Gagosian Gallery, and lawyer Dana Lord, who was at her first Party in the Garden.
“I’ve been in New York for two years,” Lord said. “How often do you get to go to a garden party in New York? For me this was like checking a box.”
The “garden” part of the party is so enjoyable (when the weather cooperates, which on this night it did), party planners this year decided to create a garden inside the museum.
No sooner had guests stepped inside than they were walking on extremely convincing faux grass -- not the fresh-cut AstroTurf kind but with a luxuriant high carpet still kind on high heels. Low boxwood hedges lined the room’s perimeters. And the final detail: wood folding chairs with cane backs.
It was on those chairs guests dined on burrata, lobster salad, lamb and potato salad with cucumbers and black truffles.
Those seated included former bond trader and CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Richard Fuld, MSD Capital LP’s Glenn Fuhrman and John Phelan, billionaire Leonard Lauder and Bryan Lourd of Creative Artists Agency.
Lourd was also present last month when the nonprofit Opportunity Network, which helps high-achieving, low-income students go to college, honored Craig, which is when I had a chance to speak with the actor.
Philanthropy “at a certain point becomes an absolute necessity,” Craig said. “If fame and fortune can bring you anything, it brings you an opportunity to help others.”
As the night progressed, and the music got louder outside, Justin and Indre Rockefeller stayed inside, gathering some of the cane chairs in a circle with friends to play Ellen DeGeneres’s iPhone game Heads Up! Indre Rockefeller, U.S. president of Madrid-based luxury brand Delpozo, took her turn, holding an iPhone to her forehead with the screen faced outward, displaying the word “nightclub.” Her friends gave her clues, and in a moment she’d guessed right and moved to the next: “Paris Hilton.”