|Last Saturday night in Water Mill, the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation celebrated its 21st Annual Summer Benefit – One Thousand Nights and One Night: Sleepless Nights of Sheherazade at The Watermill Center. This benefit, which thanks to the American arts and culture impresario Robert Wilson is always without question, the most spectacular social event of the Hamptons summer season. There are others just populated with supporters but the Wilson touch separates it from all others.
Not surprisingly, the evening raised a record setting $2.2 million to support the Center’s International Summer Arts Program and the year-round Artist Residency and Education Programs, providing young and emerging artists a unique opportunity to develop their work. Mr. Wilson may also be the most spectacular fund-raiser of the arts and culture crowd who carry the big checkbooks.
|His words about it: “In terms of what we do at Watermill, I am proudest when we showcase work that has never been seen in the United States, together with the work of young artists. I am grateful for the unparalleled support we receive each year to continue to provide a creative environment for artists to explore new idea.”
Honoring international art patron Shaikha Paula Al-Sabah, the evening featured new work by 100 artists from 30 countries; the US premiere of Portraits of Lady Gaga by Robert Wilson; and a highlight performance of SISYPHUS by acclaimed experimental theatre director, visual artist and choreographer, Dimitris Papaioannou.
Upon arrival guests are introduced to the theme upon arrival at the roadside. They were greeted by the light of the setting sun passing through a cloud installation, titled n.u.a.g.e.s by Annick Lavalee-Benny and La Noche, a unique specialty cocktail created by Casamigos Tequila for the occasion.
|Almost 1400 international curators, collectors, artists and benefactors roamed the Center’s 8 acres to experience 27-site specific installations and performances interspersed amongst outdoor sculptures and artifacts including Baboo Liao and Gintare Minelgaite’s 1001 Nights in America, a whimsical, satirical look at American home life.
At the entrance to the dinner tent, Rolls Royce -- quintessential symbol of elegance and luxury of the Automotive Age -- displayed a Phantom Drophead Coupe convertible (yours for only $475,000 – and I can assure you there were a good number of guests who could write out a check for it on the spot).
|It was an evening of theater and wonder for guests who naturally expected nothing less from Mr. Wilson’s creative palette. Among them: Reem Acra, Lisa Anastos, Yigal Azrouel, Princess Khaliya Aga Khan, Daniel Arsham, Deborah Bancroft, Ali Banisadr, Kelly Behun and Jay Sugarman (co-chairs), Fabiola Beracasa, Ross Bleckner, Phillip Bloch, Valerie Boster, Estrellita and Daniel Brodsky, Henry Buhl (co-chair), Janna Bullock (co-chair), Christine Wächter-Campbell and William I. Campbell (co-chairs), Kylie Cappelli, Kim Cattrall, Lucinda Childs, Melissa Chiu, Alistair and Blair Voltz Clarke, Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane (co-chairs), Nedenia Hutton Craig, Jennifer Creel, Graziano de Boni, Cecilia Dean, Gustaf Demarchelier, Kyle DeWoody, Stacy Engman, Lise Evans, Whitney Fairchild, Wendy and Roger Ferris (co-chair), Filipa Fino, Philip Glass, Barbara Goldsmith (co-chair), Jamee Gregory, Audrey Gruss, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Amanda Hearst, Anne Hearst McInerney and Jay McInerney (co-chairs), Kim Heirston, Leila Heller, Sally Hershberger, Kathy and Rick Hilton, Nir Hod, Maja Hoffman and Stanley Buchthal.|
|And more: Jane Holzer, Anne Huntington, Isabelle Huppert, Lucia Hwong-Gordon, Item Idem, Carola and Bob Jain (co-chairs), Jim Jarmusch (who performed alongside Phil Kline), Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, Phil Kline, Zane Lewis, Dorothy Lichtenstein (co-chair), Eugenio Lopez, Fern Mallis, David Mann, Christophe de Menil, B. Michael and Mark-Anthony Edwards, Nicole Miller, Di Mondo, Inga Maren Otto (co-chair), Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Nathan Bernstein (co-chairs), Lisa and Richard Perry (co-chairs), Anneliese Petersen, Matthu Placek, Tatiana and Campion Platt (co-chairs), Eric Ripert, Kelly Rutherford, Jean Shafiroff, Susan Shin (co-chair), Eric Shiner, Barbara Slifka (co-chair), Anastasiya Siro, Hunt Slonem, Gregory Soros, Tracy Stern, Vivienne Tam, Hal Wilner, Prince Dimitrti of Yugoslavia, Bettina Zilkha, and more. Remember there were 1400.
|Eric Parnes, whose work, Gérôme's Helmets continued, inspired the evening’s dress code “Bazaar Chic”. Wilson enlightened guests that the theme referenced the honoree, a senior member of the Kuwaiti royal family - Shaikha Paula Al-Sabah -- and because as he announced for the first time, the Paris Opera has commissioned him and Phillip Glass to produce a new opera - The Palace of Arabian Nights.
The highlight of the dinner was the live auction conducted by veteran auctioneer Simon de Pury, which together with the online auction previewed and hosted by Artsy, raised $1.2 million. De Pury, the auctioneer’s auctioneer added to the drama. Among the notable lots in the live auction, were two Portraits of Lady Gaga by Robert Wilson influenced by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière and Jacques-Louis David’s famed painting, The Death of Marat, exhibited at the Louvre last year, as well as works by Frank Gehry, Anish Kapoor, Anselm Kiefer, Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, and an unsolicited, anonymous donation of $100,000 for a commissioned work by Robert Wilson.
|And on with the show. Afterward, guests enjoyed dessert and dancing to DJ Chris Bachmann, presented by Troy Curtis Group, in the silent auction tent. Previewed online by Artsy, the silent auction featured over 120 lots from artists including Farley Aguilar, Derrick Adams, Diana Al-Hadid, Daniel Arsham, Alice Aycock, Jeff Bark, Richard Barnes, Sanford Biggers, Ross Bleckner, Ryan Brown, Chokra, Alexis Dahan, E.V. Day, Aganetha Dyck, Sam Falls, Simeen Farhat, Josef Fischnaller, Vanessa German, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Nir Hod, Zev Jonas, Maya Kramer, Kinke Kooi, Katja Loher, David Mann, Anthony McCall, Susan Meiselas, Alexander Melamid, Mick Rock, Jin Shaun, Esther Traugot, G.T. Pellizzi, Kembra Pfahler, Lisa Ross, Robert Schaberl, Martin Schoeller, Ray Smith, Ned Vena, Chuck Webster, Rob Wynne, Marc Yankus, Anicka Yi, Vadim Zakhrov and Scott Zieher.|
|Sponsors and supporters of the Benefit included: Corporate Sponsorship by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC and Lufthansa German Airlines; Mouton Rothschild; Casamigos Tequila, Hendrick's Gin; Sag Harbor Rum; Tito's Handmade Vodka; Peroni Nastro Azurro; Organic Gemini, Voss Artesian Water from Norway; and illycaffè, who provided illy coffee and espresso cups designed in collaboration with Robert Wilson as part of the evening’s giftbag.|
|Country life in Fitch’s Corner. The horse farm of Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels in Millbrook, was the location for the Fitch's Corner Horse Trials, the regional event that is a favorite for high performance riders. Four former Olympians -- Bruce Davidson, Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin and Will Coleman, brought their younger horses to compete for the Tiffany & Co. awards.
The theme for the social events was the Chinese Year of the Horse. Co-Chairmen, Darren Henault and Nancy Henze created for the annual Blue Jean Ball a Chinese decor and a Chinese banquet for the 600 guests. DJ Flo, up from New York City, cranked up the music as guests danced under the canvas lighted by hundreds of melon and raspberry colored lanterns. Fernanda Gilligan, daughter of the hosts, was celebrating her engagement to architect Adrian Jess of London -- an October wedding is planned in Northern Ireland.
|The following day another 300 attended the Spectator Luncheon which began with a “Sip and Shop” organized by Holland & Holland, Champagne Georg and the fashion website What2WearWhere. Guests could shop-shop-shop in 50 boutiques featuring home and fashion as well as items for horse and hound. The luncheon was sponsored by real estate firms Houlihan Lawrence, and Stribling who provided ringside seating for the stadium jumping, and ladies and gents wore hats as convenient.
Nancy and David Hathaway, a Master of the Millbrook Foxhounds were honored with the Fitch's Corner Award. The ceremony was enhanced with a Collector Car Parade sponsored by J McLaughlin and a Parade of the Hounds. The weather was perfect and the competition was flawless. An ideal day in the countryside was had by all.
|Photographs by Patrick McMullan (Watermill); Mary Hilliard (Fitch's Corner).|