Leonardo DiCaprio Co-Hosts Record $4.1 Million LACMA Art + Film Gala

Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese
Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese
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In its third annual outing, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art threw one of L.A.’s most mogul- and star-studded bashes ever, hosting the likes of Bob Iger, Brad Grey, Leslie Moonves and Sumner Redstone, plus Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Warren Beatty, James Franco and Drew Barrymore at its Art + Film Gala. The Gucci-sponsored event -- created by the museum to create linkages between the artist and filmmaker communities -- this year honored David Hockney and Martin Scorsese and raised $4.1 million, up $600,000 from 2012.

The night began with guests doing arrival photos in front of the museum’s celebrated Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden, then continued with cocktails and Laurent-Perrier champagne inside the BP Grand Entrance where singer Dhani Harrison performed a short welcome set. The crowd then moved up to a specially constructed pavilion for dinner (by Joachim Splichal’s Patina), the honoree presentations and a performance by Sting. Among those getting into the commingling spirit of the evening was TV host Jimmy Kimmel who told The Hollywood Reporter, “People don't think of a guy like me as being an art lover. But I am. I love art and I love film. So I'm Mr. Art + Film.”

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Before guests sat down, Leonardo DiCaprio -- the co-host of the event for the third year running with LACMA board member Eva Chow -- chatted with Tom Hanks at the bar and told him how glad he was that he could personally attend after missing last year’s bash. DiCaprio’s plus one for the night was Christie’s auctioneer Loic Gouzer, who organized the actor’s charity art auction earlier this year that raised $38 million for wildlife preservation.

“I honestly look forward to this event every year,” Hanks told THR. “And I can't say that about all the events I go to.” The room was filled with Gucci gowns on the likes of Zoe Saldana, Evan Rachel Wood, Kate Hudson, Dakota Johnson, Jane Fonda, Mary J. Blige, Amy Adams, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Salma Hayek (with husband Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Gucci parent company Kering), Kate Beckinsale and Olivia Wilde (with Jason Sudeikis, also in Gucci.)

LACMA CEO and director Michael Govan began the proceedings by noting that in the last few years, the museum has doubled its exhibition spaces and attendance, and pointing to the many film and film-related programs on offer and in the wings. Hockney’s new show, Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos, 2011, opens today at the museum. “His latest great experiment is with film and he’s used multiple cameras, he’s actually recorded 18 different perspective of the same event,” said Govan of the new show that represents a return visit to Los Angeles for the English artist who did so much to make the California swimming pool and sunshine iconic after moving to L.A. in 1978. He decamped back to his home country a few years back.

LACMA is also the future site of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science’s Academy Museum (Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was in attendance.) The museum has also completed a collaborative project with Scorsese’s Film Foundation and philanthropist Wallis Annenberg to restore four films that French film director Agnes Varda, also in attendance, made in California. The exhibit, Agnes Varda in Californialand, showcasing her photographs, also opens today. The involvement and presence of Scorsese underscored how far the museum’s come in rebuilding its film programming. In 2009, the director blasted Govan in an open letter after the museum announced it was scrapping its 40-year-old film-screening program. "Marty was very vocal when we announced that we were pausing our film program a few years ago during the economic meltdown,” acknowledged Govan. “When he learned that we really wanted to rebuild and expand our program, he was the first person who offered to help.”

Hockney was introduced by Teller of the magician team Penn & Teller and by a short film directed by Lucy Walker (Waste Land). “Thank you very much for the welcome back. I was only on location in England,” joked the artist after taking the stage. He recalled first arriving in Los Angeles in January of 1964 “when they were just putting up this building and this museum had just been founded, I think, in 1955. It’s getting bigger and bigger as it should do. It’s the only encyclopedic museum in Southern California and deserves your support.”

DiCaprio paid tribute to Scorsese as a “master of his medium”, with whom, he noted, he’s done five movies, including the upcoming December release The Wolf of Wall Street. “When you walk into a museum like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, you are faced with works of art that have been preserved over centuries and confronted with stories about history, culture and craft. Speaking with Martin Scorsese, you feel the exact same way because spending time with Marty is like stepping into a world-class film museum.”

After a short film by Concept Arts was presented showcasing his films and the cinema preservation work of his Film Foundation, the director recalled spending “so many hours” at LACMA in the 70s watching films. “It became a great education. It was an extraordinary place, and I’m so pleased to see that the museum is affirming its commitment to the art of cinema.” Scorsese said it was an honor to share the evening with Hockney, “whose work continues to inspire me over the years.” Even Taxi Driver, Scorsese noted, was influenced by Hockney’s work.

Both the artist and the director made individual pleas for appreciating and preserving their respective art forms: the still and the moving.

Said Hockney: “I would just like to close with a thought of a story about a film director who took as a secretary a person who used to work at the Chicago Art Institute and he said to her, ‘Well, don’t stop going to the Chicago Art Institute and looking at those pictures because those pictures don’t move, don’t talk and last longer.”

The director, in his turn, extolled the magic of cinema, invoking classic scenes in such films as Notorious, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The Leopard (“Burt Lancaster pounding his hand down on the armchair at the ball when he realized that it’s over, his life has been lived”) and Three Times. “That’s only four examples and I could go on for many more, but each of these very precious moments is realized not just in one image but a chain of images put together in such a way that they create the sensation of image captured within the flow of time. … For every movie that’s lost one of those elements, a word, a gesture, a remark, an exclamation, is lost. That’s for me why it’s so important to preserve it.”

Concluded Scorsese: “Cinema is necessary and please don’t forget it.”

The evening ended with a Gucci-clad Sting, introduced by the luxury house’s creative director Frida Giannini, performing a five-song set of “Message in a Bottle,” “Fields of Gold,” “Englishman in New York,” “Desert Rose” and “Every Breath You Take.”

Among the other names in attendance were artists Doug Aitken, 2011 Art + Film Gala honoree John Baldessari, 2012 Art + Film Gala honoree Ed Ruscha, Urs Fischer, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Barbara Kruger, Sharon Lockhart, Catherine Opie, Diana Thater, James Welling and Lari Pittman.

Entertainment names on LACMA's board of trustees who made the scene included: Willow Bay (with Iger), Colleen Bell, Brian Grazer (with girlfriend Veronica Smiley), Brad Grey (with wife Cassandra), Bobby Kotick, Bryan Lourd (with partner Bruce Bozzi), Carole Bayer Sager (with husband Bob Daly), Terry Semel, Viveca Paulin-Ferrell (with husband Will Ferrell) and Casey Wasserman (with wife Laura.)

Others spotted in the crowd included producer Lawrence Bender, Mary J. Blige, Jerry Bruckheimer, Warner Bros.’ Sue Kroll and Blair Rich, CAA’s Joel Lubin, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher, director Gia Coppola, Fergie and Josh Duhamel, Modern Family creator Steve Levitan, PSY, John C. Reilly, Jeremy Renner, Wolfgang and Gelila Puck, Dreamworks Animation’s Bill Damaschke with John McIlwee, producer Christina Steinberg, entertainment attorney Alan Hergott and partner Curtis Shepard, China Chow, WME’s Christopher Donnelly (who reps Scorsese), Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn with wife Cindy, interior designer Windsor Smith, Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin, gallerist Tim Blum of Blum & Poe, former MOCA curator Paul Schimmel (now with gallery Hauser & Wirth), Netflix’s Ted Sarandos with wife Nicole Avant, collector Eugenio Lopez, philanthropist Jamie Tisch, Bob Newhart, producers and collector Bill and Maria Bell, entertainment attorney Jake Bloom with wife Ruth and Los Angeles County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky with wife Barbara.

Said actor Michael B. Jordan of the scene: “Not sure I've ever seen a crowd like this -- every person here has some major entertainment or art world accomplishment/contribution. It blows my mind.”

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