Saturday was an extremely successful evening for the Museum of Contemporary Art, as $2.5 million was raised at its annual Yessss! gala.
The event’s success comes hot on the heels of the Board of Trustees’ announcement that it has received commitments that raise the value of the endowment to $75 million toward the goal of boosting the museum’s endowment to an initial $100 million.
The evening was in honor of the first major U.S. museum retrospective of works by Swiss-born artist Urs Fische. It also marked the first time an exhibition by a living artist has been presented at both MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.
MOCA’s gala drew hundreds of luminaries from the worlds of art, design, architecture, fashion, film, politics and music. In attendance were Gala Chairs Maria Arena Bell and Eli Broad, Honorary Gala Chairs Stephanie & Peter Brant, Ariel & Sarah Emanuel, Larry Gagosian, Eugenio Lopez, Maurice Marciano and Peter Morton, Dinner Chairs NancyJane & Mark Goldston, Carolyn Powers and Lilly Tartikoff Karatz & Bruce Karatz, Honorary Co-Chairs Dan Aloni, Jim Berkus, Irving & Jackie Blum, Eva & Michael Chow, Mandy & Cliff Einstein, Suzanne & David Johnson, Amalia Dayan & Adam Lindemann, Margaret and Dan Loeb, Rosette Delug, Dallas Price-Van Breda & Bob van Breda, Steven Roth & Kaayla Cevan, Carla & Fred Sands, Catharine Soros, Elham and Tony Salamé, Darren Star, Maria Seferian, Benjamin and Jennifer Silverman, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Jefery Levy, Lauren Taschen together with MOCA Trustees Chip Conlan, Laurent Degryse, Susan and David Gersh, Michael Harrison, Audrey Irmas, Steven Mnuchin, Sutton Stracke, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Herb Wesson, and Orna Amir Wolens.
Other guests included Doug Aitken, Edgar Arcenaux, Harry Brant, Tim Blum, Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance, Mark Bradford, Gavin Brown, Christine & Gabriel Chiu, China Chow, Dan Colen, Sadie Coles, Jeff Curry, Kyle DeWoody, Brendan Dugan, Jesse Dylan, Lisa Edelstein, Lisa Eisner, Ant Genn, Shepard Fairey, Urs Fischer, Danny Fuller, Cyprien Gaillard, Suzanne Geiss, Aileen Getty, Liz Goldwyn, Brian Grazer, Alan Hergott & Curt Shephard, Jennifer Herrema, Lady Victoria Hervey, Victoria Duffy Hopper, Thomas Houseago, Elliott Hundley, Alex Israel, Chris Johanson & Jo Jackson, Ben Jones, Miranda July, Miriam Katz, Bettina Korek, George Kotsiopoulos, Giada De Laurentiis, Malerie Marder, Nancy & Howard Marks, Barry McGee & Clare Rojas, Tobias Meyer, Jarl & Pam Mohn Anita and Mark Mothersbaugh, Laura Mulleavy, Vivi Nevo, Stavros Niarchos, Timothy Olyphant, Laura Owens, Ellen Pompeo, Paige Powell, Rob Pruitt, Wolfgang Puck & Gelilia Assefa, Charlotte Rampling, Shaun Caley Regen, Retna, Terry Richardson, Amanda Ross-Ho, Scott Rothkopf, David Salle, André Saraiva, , Julian Schnabel, Tony Shafrazi, Eckhard Schneider, Rick Ruben, Sumner Redstone, Lara Schnitger, Cameron Silver, Hedi Slimane, Josh Smith, Dean Spunt & Randy Randall of No Age, Craig Stecyk, Tara Subkoff, Jennifer Tilly, Steve Tisch, Gus Van Sant, Owen Wilson and Neville Wakefield.
The 650+ guests donned Hawaiian leis during the dinner portion of the evening while seated at Italian trattoria style tables covered in red and white checked table cloths with Chianti bottle drip candles. Centerpieces included bong vases with hemp, Rob Pruitt napkins and waiters wearing t-shirts with phrases from a poem by artist Marc Hundley, that when taken together said “Amazing things/Are happening/In this world.”
Burly men dressed as angels floated above the dinner guests, suspended from scissor lifts usually reserved for the installation of artwork and lights, while the music that filtered through the room included bird calls, whale songs, and the sounds of thunder and rain. The ambiance was occasionally punctuated by the flurry of dollar bills that exploded from a nearby money cannon.
A special Ferrari valet area was available at both locations to accommodate attendees arriving via Ferrari.
Festivities continued with Renaissance Fair characters in costume, a goat petting zoo, and a giant panda directing the way to the restrooms. Guests had their pick between the taffy making area, the goat milk creamery, and an old-fashioned cotton candy machine spinning candy onto glowsticks. Smokey the Bear welcomed smokers to the smoking section and guests lined up to make their own digital flip books, many of whom donned the outlandish costumes and props that were on hand for them to have their fun. Guests sipped on fresh juice bar cocktails and wheatgrass shots while watching a bevy of hula dancers perform.
A Parisian Style Bistro dinner courtesy of Wolfgang Puck Catering, included a first course of a frisee salad with julienne of bacon, poached egg, brioche croutons and sherry mustard vinaigrette, along with an assortment of Wolfgang Puck breads, rolls and lavosh with sweet butter. The first course had barely finished when the entire USC Trojans Marching Band took over the hall. Led by their baton twirler, and book-ended by tireless cheerleaders, the entire band in sunglasses marched between the many tables. By the time they filtered out of the hall, all of the guests were clapping and cheering. Accompanying the main course of a duo of roasted chicken with jus, grilled New York steak, roasted asparagus, frites and lyonnaise potatoes complimented by Wolfgang Puck Private Label wine, were musical performances by Mark Mothersbaugh, one of the most unique, subversive, and prolific composers and artists of the era who played the organ and synthesizer, and stand up and comedy appearances by Nick Kroll, Kumail Nanjiani and soap star and patch-clad Steven Nichols. The highlight of the evening came as legendary American sweethearts and pop superstars The Go-Go’s took the stage with a barefoot Belinda Carlisle, and brought all guests to their feet. Artists, trustees, politicians, and celebrities rubbed shoulders as the dancing began to hit song “We Got the Beat.”
A vast spread of desserts, including an Ice Cream Sundae Bar, Spring Inspired French Macaroons, Mini Coffee Eclairs, Raspberry Creme Brulee Tarts, and Apple Tarte Tatin were devoured outside under the Geffen canopy strung with disco balls. The after-party with performances by Jennifer Herrema and Black Bananas, and comedian Rory Scovel did in fact bring the guests to their feet once again dancing and chatting until late into the evening. Guests seemed loath to go home, avoiding the valet and shuttle services until the very last moment.