LACMA Raises Record $3 Million for New Works With Support of Brian Grazer, Bryan Lourd

LACMA Event - H 2013
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for LACMA

The museum's annual Collectors Committee Weekend included curator presentations and a gala dinner attended by Will Ferrell, Robert Iger and Francis Ford Coppola.

Cheech Marin loves mind-bending Op Art. But not for the reasons you might think.

The actor and avid art collector was in the audience Saturday morning listening intently to Ilona Katzew, curator and department head of Latin American art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as she presented Argentinian artist Julio Le Parc’s fantastically disorienting kinetic mural.

“That’s the one,” Marin said later at the museum’s Saturday night gala dinner, tipping his hand as to which piece he was going to vote for as part of Collectors Committee Weekend, which brings together a group of 72 members of a patronage group that has for 28 years voted on the acquisition of key pieces for the museum.

Starting Friday, there was a round of elegant dinners around Los Angeles hosted by members. Then Saturday, the cadre of influential art collectors met at the museum to hear acquisition proposals from seven staff curators. Curators had around five to 10 minutes to plead their case to the patrons, who donated into a pool. A total $1.1 million was already pledged by the time LACMA director Michael Govan took the podium before giving way to what he described as the curators’ “sales pitches.”

At the dinner, the committee voted on which pieces they want to be acquired by LACMA from the pool. Coalitions of high-powered individuals formed and plotted to put extra money into the kitty to ensure their favorite pieces were purchased, creating a fun, constructive atmosphere of benevolence. Additional money for the pool was generated in a live auction hosted by Viveca Paulin-Ferrell, a LACMA trustee, whose vivacious calling has become the talk of annual event.

“I love to engage with people who have the funds to grow into the museum we want it to be,” said Paulin-Ferrell, who serves as an auctioneer at Los Angeles Modern Auctions. “I don’t get people who have money but don’t support art.”

Chimed in Paulin-Ferrell’s husband Will Ferrell: “I love to see her do her thing.” The raucous dinner also brought out Francis and Eleanor Coppola, chef Thomas Keller, board of trustees co-chairs Andrew Gordon and Terry Semel and trustees Willow Bay (with husband Robert Iger), Lynda Resnick (with husband Stewart), Lyn Lear (with husband Norman), Jamie McCourt, Brian Grazer, Bryan Lourd, Steve Tisch and Carole Bayer Sager (who auctioned off a private performance with ex-husband Burt Bacharach) and committee chair Ann Colgin, the renowned vintner. Diane Keaton and Kyle MacLachlan also attended the pitch session earlier in the day.

The menu, crafted by Patina’s Joachim Splichal featured roasted prime tenderloin steak in a cabernet demi sauce, charred parsnip agnolotti, and a chocolate passion mousse cake. Wine was provided by Colgin Cellars, Landmark Vineyards and Merry Edwards Winery.

By the time the evening was over, $3 million in artworks was acquired by the museum -- a record haul for the Collectors Committee --- including the Le Parc piece and works by light and space artist James Turrell and photographers Thomas Demand and Susan Hefuna, as well as historically important African, Japanese and Korean sculptures. Event sponsor JPMorgan Chase had also pledged a gift from its extensive collection of either a Robert Frank photograph or a series of Ed Ruscha stain prints to be chosen by the committee, but ended up gifting the museum both.