Inside Frieze L.A.'s Chateau Marmont-Set Breakfast With Ari Emanuel and Pharrell Williams

Two months after announcing the launch of Los Angeles' first Frieze art fair, the prestigious Frieze team welcomed art and entertainment insiders for a breakfast event to lay out plans for the 2019 event.
Courtesy of Michael Underwood

On Wednesday, just minutes after 9 a.m., the patch of iconic real estate inside Chateau Marmont's famous tented terrace was fast filling up with familiar faces from L.A.'s art and industry scene. LACMA director Michael Govan greeted Susan Nimoy, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel chatted up W editor in chief Stefano Tonchi, Alex Israel swung his arm around Maria Bell and posed for a nearby photographer (cheeky since both refused to remove their sunglasses), and Pharrell Williams posted up with wife Helen Lasichanh in the middle of all the morning action. 

All could be categorized right on time since the invite for Frieze L.A.'s breakfast soiree-meets-coming-out-party of sorts signaled a start time well before many Angelenos had finished pressing snooze. Bettina Korek was the opposite of bleary-eyed, however, as the newly named executive director of Frieze L.A. arrived already amped up after having a cup of Nespresso at home.

After all, this was a big morning for the woman once named by The Wall Street Journal as "L.A.'s art insider" and referred to by another breakfast guest as "the L.A. whisperer." Korek, dressed in a chic black jumpsuit, looked more like a veteran politician as she weaved her way through the party with an effortless air, greeting guests, making introductions and never staying in one place longer than a minute or two. The ForYourArt founder's name was part of the major announcement rolled out by Frieze back in February along with the date of the 2019 event (kicking off Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, continuing through Feb. 17), location (Paramount Pictures studio lot), curator (Ali Subotnick) and architect (Kulapat Yantrasast of the architecture firm wHY). 

There would be a bit more news to come during a brief program that kicked off close to 10 a.m. and featured remarks from Korek, Emanuel, Frieze director Victoria Siddall and Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp. Korek went first, greeting guests with a smile as they put down their coffee and avocado toast to listen to her share some gratitude. "It means so much to see so many friends and leaders from the art, film, music communities, the city and the county," she said, before giving some insight into why she accepted the position. "Most of you know me for founding ForYourArt, which produces information and projects aimed at encouraging patronage and engagement with the arts. Frieze shares these values and that's what really drew me to the organization."

Though having Frieze L.A. on the city's art and events calendar is a new thing, Korek explained that the two are "already good friends." For example: "There will be 19 L.A. galleries at Frieze New York in May, and many more L.A.-based artists being shown and sold in London and New York, benefiting from the global platform Frieze has created."

But having the event in her backyard doesn't mean Korek only hopes to see her friends and fellow art world insiders making the rounds inside Yantrasast's custom tent. "My dream for Frieze Los Angeles is that it will grow to become a true civic event, attracting people from outside of the city but also stimulating patronage throughout the city itself, strengthening the diverse communities that have been developing here for decades," she concluded before turning the microphone over to Siddall, who handled breaking a bit of news with her time in front of the gathered crowd of more than 100 guests. 

While making plans to launch Frieze L.A., Siddall said one of the first calls she and her team made was to longtime sponsor Deutsche Bank. 

"We can't really imagine doing a fair without them," she explained. "And I'm thrilled to announce today that Deutsche Bank will be our global lead partner on Frieze L.A. and will help us to make it a success."

Success that depends on the help from those who set their alarms early to attend Wednesday's event. "Our vision for Frieze L.A. is for an international fair that brings the best galleries and visitors from all over the world to this city," Siddall continued. "The success of it really rests on the support of the people here. I want to thank you all for being with us from the beginning."

She then welcomed co-founder Sharp, a woman who launched Frieze magazine with Matthew Slotover in 1991 only to build it into the platform for international artists that it has become, with fairs in New York and London. Sharp said that she and Slotover had come up with a list of dreamy goals for their Frieze brand. At the top of that list was doing a fair here in the City of Angels. Lucky for them, Slotover got seated next to Emanuel at a dinner party. "And the first thing Ari said to Matt was, 'How do I help?' Now, I think you can see how (he) helped," she said with a smile. "I don't think we'd have been able to do L.A. without Ari's support."

Emanuel took the microphone from Sharp and first made a joke about the timing of the morning's event. "I've been up for five hours," he said (which means he got out of bed at 5 a.m. if not before). "(To see) the art world come out at 9 o'clock in the morning is amazing and is an indication that Frieze L.A. is going to be successful." (He then quipped, "They've given me notes so there won't be any four-letter words.")

He kept it clean and even noted that "money is not the issue right now," as they build Frieze L.A. with a "dream team." "We are going to be trying to this for a lot of years," Emanuel concluded. "And I hope it's a big success." 

Danielle Brazell, general manager in the department of cultural affairs for the City of Los Angeles, hopes so, too. "There's no shortage of creativity in our city, but what Frieze L.A. does is amplify and accelerate the important role that arts and culture play — both in terms of driving regional economy but also by spotlighting the incredible creativity that we have in our city. What this does is create an international venue by which we can tell the world just how extraordinary our city is."

A city waiting to be explored on this Wednesday morning. Or not. 

"Eat, go home, go to work," Emanuel said in closing out his remarks. "Or go back to bed."