Inside The Haute Living and Louis XIII 80th Birthday Dinner For NFL Great Jim Brown

Haute Living Publisher Seth Semilof, Monique Brown, former Cleveland Browns running back and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Haute Living Publisher Kamal Hotchandani, and Vice President Louis XIII Americas, Yves De Launay attend Haute Living and Louis XIII Celebrate Jim Brown's 80th Birthday on February 4, 2016 in San Francisco, California.
Haute Living Publisher Seth Semilof, Monique Brown, Jim Brown, Haute Living Publisher Kamal Hotchandani and Yves de Launay, Vice President Prestige Brands at Remy Cointreau USA, at the Haute Living and Louis XIII Celebrate Jim Brown’s 80th Birthday on February 4, 2016 in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Haute Living

Haute Living, along with VIPs from the worlds of sports, entertainment and hospitality, raised a glass of Louis XIII to NFL great Jim Brown on Feb. 4 at an elegant “Louis XIII Dinner Experience” at The St. Regis San Francisco to celebrate the legend’s 80th birthday. It was a fitting way to honor a truly iconic figure who made a name for himself as an athlete, activist and actor and appears on the cover of our January/February 2016 Super Bowl issue. It’s no wonder that so many luminaries were on hand to toast the man at this glamorous evening that also raised money for Amer-I-Can, the foundation Brown started in 1988.

Haute Living publishers Kamal Hotchandani and Seth Semilof joined Yves de Launay, Vice President Prestige Brands at Remy Cointreau USA, in welcoming Brown, his wife Monique Brown and their children, Aris and Morgan, along Swizz Beatz, Ludacris, Pro Football Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott (and wife Karen Lott), Emmitt Smith (and wife Pat Smith), Curtis Martin and Floyd Little, future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, Carmen and Gail Policy, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and Candy DeBartolo,Willie Brown and Sonya Molodetskaya, Ickey Woods, Dr. Harry Edwards, Guy Fieri, and Haute Living Ambassador Olivia Hsu Decker at the 100-person sit-down dinner.

During the reception, guests sipped champagne, nibbled on passed hors d’oeuvres and bid on sports and entertainment items and experiences in a silent auction before sitting down to four long, beautifully decorated candelit-tables for a three-course dinner of lobster and shellfish bisque, a duet of filet of grass-fed beef tenderloin, polenta mascarpone ravioli and pan-seared sea bass, and dessert of strawberry shortcake paired with delicious Jordan wines from the Alexander Valley. Two oversized paintings of Brown by street artist Madsteez were the focal point in the dinner, held in a tented room on the fourth floor of the luxurious hotel and sponsored in part by GLP Group Legal Plans and Haufe.

Actor Stephen Bishop emceed the evening and introduced Monique, who took the stage to welcome guests before dinner. “It’s very meaningful to us that you all came out to honor him this way so thank you.. 80 is huge. Jim and I have been together for over 20 years and if you ever asked me if I’d be with someone who on the outside is so much different in terms of age, I wouldn’t have believe it myself. But I connected with Jim on a spiritual level and our commitment to humanity. Those of you that know Jim know that he is people driven and he cares about his fellow man. more than anything this is his passion. more than anything, that is why I love him.”

The guest of honor, flanked at the table by his wife on his left and Martin to his right, then watched NFL Films video showing Brown over the years and included interviews with former NFL running back greats Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson and Franco Harris. Throughout the evening a slideshow showing Brown’s life played on screens as well. Boldface names, including Kevin Hart, Richard Sherman, Charles Woodson and George Foreman wished Brown happy birthday in a video, which included Allen showing off his vocal talents by singing “Happy Birthday” to Brown. Afterward, the glamorous guests did the same and sang to Brown. An Amer-I-Can video also showed just what the foundation is about. The national program and movement was created by the NFL great in 1988 to empower individuals to take charge of their lives and achieve their full potential.

Brown took the stage and said, “80 is a strange sounding creature. … The kind of people that are here. Tonight as I sat at the table and looked around and saw people like Floyd Little, I decided to try to remember all of the names that are here and how they played a part of my life and the true friendship that we’ve had.”

The NFL legend made a special point to mention Martin, who sat to his right at dinner, and said, “You’ve been very valuable in the movement that we are creating.” Brown then called Lewis onstage to honor him with Amer-I-Can’s Legend Award. “The Legend Award is for an individual I feel represents not only sports—the professionalism,  the excellence—on the field but who has a tremendous passion to be excelent off the field and someone you can count on and someone who is a leader without even trying to be a leader.”

It was heartwarming to see the easy relationship between the two who share a sense of humor and love of R&B music. Onstage Lewis said, “A lot of people call him Jim Brown. I call him Papa. He was the father that I’ve always dreamed to have, to tell me the right way to go and and then let me make the decision whether I’m going to do it or not. But it’s hard when you don’t have one.”

Jim Brown and Ray Lewis
Jim Brown and Ray Lewis

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Haute Living

Brown had already passed the community torch to Lewis, who sounded like a preacher and was emotional in his 10-minute long speech. He recalled sitting on the floor at Brown’s home in the Hollywood Hills. “I just put my butt on the ground. I wanted to look up to him to say ‘Tell me what you want me to do. Give me a mission and then let me figure out how to do it.’ Tonight man, being honored is awesome, but what were being honored for is the reason why I do it.”

Lewis then called wounded warrior Cedric King up to the front to shake his hand. King lost both of his legs in Afghanistan but today runs marathons. The veteran spoke about how inspirational Lewis had been as he lay in his hospital bed.

“Papa, all I can say to you is not only happy 80th but there are souls that you changed and got richer. There are spirits you turned from evil to make them good. Your legacy in this life and the next—something grand awaits you. This moment for me is to clearly say, if I can keep changing lives like that, then I have no reason to stop. But my real ask is how many people make that sacrifice for their legacy? How many people will make it the reason you really live is to change someone’s else’s life?”

Curtis Martin, Seth Semilof, Jim Brown, Kamal Hotchandani, Monique Brown and Yves de Launay toast Jim Brown with a glass of Louis XIII
Curtis Martin, Stephen Bishop, Seth Semilof, Swizz Beatz, Kamal Hotchandani, Yves de Launay, Monique Brown and Jim Brown during a toast to Brown with a glass of Louis XIII

Swizz Beatz, standing next to a seated Brown, spoke to the guests about what an honor it was to be a part of the evening. “I give love on behalf of my wife (Alicia Keys)…, Haute Living, Louis XIII for coming and recognizing the real triple OG…It’s very rare that you see somebody that comes from nothing that makes it into something that still in his golden years is still giving back and trying to touch the youth and give awareness on the violence that is going on in L.A. and worldwide, and still trying to hold on to the cause. It’s very rare that we see that within our culture. A lot of people give up hope because that might not have had the success that they deserve. I see my brother right here is keeping it moving whether you like it or not… I said I can’t miss this for anything. I might not even go to the Super Bowl but me being here today is a great honor.”

“Even in France we know who Jim Brown is…. and we’re very happy to be here,” de Launay said, before thanking Monique for helping put together such a special evening. “What you’ve done on the football field obviously is known. What you’ve done also outside of the football field is queite remarkable and that is something that we’d like to recognize.  Your work with your foundation is quite amazing. We’d like to toast and there is nothing better to toast 80 years old than 100-year-old cognac.”

Glasses of Louis XIII were passed out to all of the guests, who raised a glass to Brown. The evening also included a live auction, highlighted by a Fieri getting into a bidding war for a Special Ops Packages that included a skydiving and sniper rifle adventure package. Also among the highly-sought after auction items: the incredible paintings of Brown by Madsteez, a VIP experience at Black Jaguar-White Tiger Foundation, a Mexican vacation and private tour with former Mexican president Vincente Fox and a private estate and retreat tour at Jordan Vineyard & Winery. In all, $150,000 was raised. “Not bad for a birthday celebration,” Monique said as she was presented an oversized check from Hotchandani.



Paintings by street artist Madsteez

Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Haute Living

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 04: (L-R) Former Cleveland Browns running back and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Seth Semilof, hip-hop artist Swizz Beatz, and Kamal Hotchandani attend Haute Living And Louis XIII Celebrate Jim Brown's 80th Birthday on February 4, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Haute Living)
Jim Brown, Seth Semilof, Swizz Beatz and Kamal Hotchandani

Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Haute Living


Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Haute Living