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The Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual benefit has become one of the most spectacular parties in Los Angeles. Last year, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie looked on as Lady Gaga played a pink piano designed by Damien Hirst, with backup from the Bolshoi Ballet. And Saturday’s bash, called The Happening and timed to show off the 146-artist exhibition titled “The Artist’s Museum,” was equally over-the-top.
Stars from Kirsten Dunst, Kate Bosworth, Gwen Stefani and Mila Kunis to Will Ferrell, Anthony Kiedis and Priscilla Presley turned out for the affair, sponsored by Chanel Fine Jewelry. Artist Doug Aitken turned the whole shebang into an experiential journey, starting with an enormous tent — customized by architect Barbara Bestor — that took over an adjacent overpass. Its ceiling was dominated by one of Aitken’s signature neon sculptures, which changed colors from red to pink to purple as Devendra Banhart, Beck and Caetano Veloso performed a specially commissioned piece.
On one side of the center stage, gala chair Maria Bell held court with honorary chair Dasha Zhukova, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, Vera Wang, Vivi Nevo, PC Valmorbida and Stavros Niarchos. On the other side, artists from Barbara Kruger to John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha commandeered their own tables for guests such as Gelila Puck, Rachel Griffiths, Malin Akerman, China Chow, Rosetta and Balthazar Getty, Patricia and Rosanna Arquette and Liz Goldwyn.
Elsewhere throughout the tent, rodeo cowboys, gospel singers and various percussionists played in progression. Even dinner was a fantastic voyage, “curated” by Joanna Moore, owner of Venice Beach hipster restaurant Axe.
With more than 1,000 people in attendance, the benefit netted $3 million for the museum (new MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch definitely looked like the cat who swallowed the canary). And some guests even walked away having learned a little something. “I’m embarrassed to say I’d never even been to MOCA before,” said Akerman, “but I am more than making up for that tonight.”