Bloomberg News

Armory Shows Attract Beyonce, Solange, Jay-Z, VIPS

March 08, 2013

Mana Contemporary

Sean Kelly, art dealer, Herbert Kasper, fashion designer, and Marina Abramovic, the performance artist honored at the dinner hosted by Mana Contemporary. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

As wet snow started falling around 11 p.m. yesterday, an art party was just ending at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan with the help of a performer who calls himself Jealous Orgasm.

Clad in leggings with suspenders over his naked torso, he gyrated, twirled and hopped for the crowd.

The Armory Show always attracts its share of nutty entertainers as it spreads out over two piers in the Hudson River and an exhausting number of sites and galleries filled with hundreds of dealers and customers.

It all stops late Sunday when the main players collapse.

“Let’s go to Norwood!” said the fair’s executive director, Noah Horowitz, as Jealous Orgasm was winding down.

Off he went with writer Anthony Haden-Guest and Sebastian Cwilich, president of Artsy, the fair’s online partner.

Access to Norwood, a private club on West 14th Street, is one of the perks the Armory Show offers its VIP clients, along with visits to collectors’ art-filled apartments, private museum tours and a performance by Solange Knowles at the Museum of Modern Art.

“There have been a million parties,” said Alberto Mugrabi, whose family owns one of the largest private Andy Warhol collections in the world. “It becomes too much.”

Exclusive Event

Monday evening brought “Chosen,” an exclusive event organized by Paul Morris, a private art dealer and the Armory Show’s co-founder.

Open only to hand-picked collectors, curators and dealers, it took place at a historic downtown mansion, which housed a $30 million Lucian Freud painting and offered sustenance by Ferran Adria’s brother Albert.

On Tuesday night, Warhol’s $5 million “Mao” paintings and Jean Arp’s totemic $1 million sculpture drew collectors to the Park Avenue Armory during the opening of the Art Show, an annual fair organized by the Art Dealers Association of America.

The event, which raised about $1 million for the Henry Street Settlement, attracted actress Leelee Sobieski, cosmetics billionaire Ronald Lauder, KKR & Co. co-chairman Henry Kravis, RFR Holding president Aby Rosen, newsprint magnate Peter Brant and Jonathan Tisch, co-chairman of Loews Corp.

Guests gravitated to foie gras macaroons and piled gravlax onto potato chips.

“Oh my god, who is this artist?” a man asked his bejeweled female companion, walking by Pace gallery’s booth, where Kiki Smith’s bronze sculptures of birds, stars and wolves shimmered on pastel-blue walls (and were almost all sold at prices ranging from $35,000 to $150,000). “She should be doing ‘Peter and the Wolf.’”

On Piers

By Wednesday, the proceedings moved to the VIP opening on the piers which drew Tischman Speyer Properties LP Chairman Jerry Speyer, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and filmmaker John Waters.

Later, Richard Fitzburgh, Royal Bank of Canada (RY)’s senior vice president of wealth management, hosted a cocktail reception for his clients underneath crystal chandeliers of the St. Regis hotel’s Fontainebleau suite.

“This room is like Versailles,” said Sharon Phair Fortenbaugh, a private dealer at Chowaiki & Co gallery, that stood out among some 200 Armory Show exhibitors.

A block south, MoMA hosted the fair’s opening party in the evening where Jessica Biel paused at Wolfgang Laib’s sprawling confection of buttery yellow pollen sprinkled across the atrium floor. Beyonce and Jay-Z arrived in a Maybach to see Knowles’s steamy performance.

“It’s all about selling art,” said artist Deborah Kass, who attended the Ace Hotel party yesterday. “Everything else supports it.”

Private Viewing

Yesterday, collectors hopped from an opening of the Independent fair in Chelsea to a private viewing of David Zwirner’s new, huge gallery to a dinner hosted by Mana Contemporary, a giant art-storage facility in Jersey City, at the Milk Studios penthouse.

After the main course of pan seared bass and leeks risotto, the evening’s honoree, artist Marina Abramovic, was interviewed by Charlie Rose on a small stage. Another highlight was a live dance performance by eight young members of Armitage Gone! Dance, who twisted and leaped about in beige underwear.

“The best thing I’ve done was staying at home and watching a Mets game,” said an exhausted Mugrabi.

To contact the reporters of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at kkazakina@bloomberg.net. Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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