LAXART Benefit Auction and Party Draws Mara Akil, 'Grey's' Jesse Williams

Stefanie Keenan/Coutresy of LAXART
Vivca Paulin-Ferrell and Lauri Firstenberg

The Nov. 6 auction and benefit held at the Brick Building collected $550,000 in bids to benefit director-curator Lauri Firstenberg's independent nonprofit art space.

There was spirited bidding at the fifth biennial benefit auction Wednesday, Nov. 6, for LAXART, which raised upward of $600,000 for the independent nonprofit art space in Culver City, Calif. With auctioneer Viveca Paulin-Ferrell leading the live auction, a bidding war broke out between writer-producer Mara Akil (The Game, Sparkle, Cougar Town) and LAXART board member Andrew Franklin for a painting – with the word Lakers on it – by L.A. artist Jonas Wood, part of his athlete series. Franklin, bidding by phone, took home the piece.

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Chaired by Candace Nelson, Iris Marden and Jennifer Hawks, the event, held at the Brick Building event spaces, raised money to support the groups cutting-edge exhibitions which have helped incubate the work of Anna Sew Hoy, Ruben Ochoa, Patricia Fernandez and Joel Kyack. Prior to the event, auction items were listed on online auction website Paddle8, which had already drummed up $250,000 in bids. The partnership created an instant floor for many auction items. A quarter of a million dollars is transferred onto the floor tonight, said LAXART director-curator Lauri Firstenberg. The contemporary art space, founded in 2005, has just opened a show of work by hot L.A. artist Sam Falls, whose work is collected by actor Orlando Bloom. A painting by Falls, as well as pieces by Wade Guyton, Mary Weatherford, Alex Israel, Wyatt Kahn, Lucien Smith and Dashiell Manley, were included in the benefit sale. Falls' painting went for $27,000.  LAXART works with some of the most talented and cutting-edge artists in the world today, said Resolution talent agent Adam Kanter, whose wife Brooke serves on the groups board.

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Spotted during the Samsung-sponsored night were art advisor Karyn Lovegrove, Ariana Lambert Smeraldo of West Hollywoods Lily Lodge flowers, former A & R exec Ron Handler, all board members, plus collectors Jarl (founder of E!) and Pamela Mohn, entertainment attorney Jake Bloom and wife Ruth, producer Josh Roth and wife Sonya, and Rosette Delug. Also making the scene were ForYourArt founder Bettina Korek, artist Glenn Kaino (also svp digital at OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network) and actor-producer-director Fred Savage, with wife Jennifer Stone, and Greys Anatomy actor Jesse Williams.

Added film and music producer Michael Ostin, the former president of DreamWorks Records, whose wife Joyce serves on the board: I think the caliber of work that Lauri was able to collect for this auction is pretty amazing and a testament to the great work that LAXART does. She's a patron of the arts, she supports and enables young artists to do work. She does terrific exhibits for a lot of emerging and up-and-coming artists. I'm happy to be here.” The couple are devoted art collectors. As far as how he chooses what to buy: “It’s a combination of gut instinct and research. You gotta love it because you want to live with it. But there's also a business aspect to it. You want to make wise investments. I love having my investments live on the wall. so that I can see them and appreciate them every day.”