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The town of Marfa, Tex., has long been hailed as an art colony, but Martha Stewart claims she was one of the first to discover it.

“I was early to Marfa,” she said proudly. “I did the first big story there about 18 to 20 years ago.”

This story first appeared in the November 12, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

She was at the Prince George Ballroom in Manhattan for the annual gala benefitting the arts organization Ballroom Marfa. Nearly 20 years ago, she had gone to Marfa to shoot a story for her namesake magazine at the Chinati Foundation, which was founded by Donald Judd.

“It was called ‘Martha in Marfa,’ ” she continued, obviously pleased with the sound of the headline.

An artsy fashion crowd trickled in as the cocktail hour lingered, allowing guests like Sofia Coppola, Peter Copping, Dustin Yellin, Rainer Judd, Naomi Campbell, Lauren Santo Domingo and co-sponsor Reed Krakoff plenty of time to peruse the walls before an auction featuring the works of Rashid Johnson, Leo Villareal, Rosy Keyser, among others. Dan Colen looked ever the artist in a pair of navy pants splattered with paint — no doubt his own doing. (Later, his flower painting “Killing” sold for $45,000.)

Luke Wilson, who hung near the bar with his girlfriend, Meg Simpson, admitted his brother Owen is more of a collector than he is. “I’m kind of more into photographs, but my brother is really into modern art,” he said, before realizing that the works on display were, indeed, for sale. “They’re selling stuff?”

This being a dinner for a Texas organization, the menu featured fried chicken and short ribs served with yams, corn bread, collard greens and macaroni and cheese. Grassy landscapes of Marfa washed over a projection screen while the Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds and his 11-piece band gave a commanding performance of the first installment in “The Marfa Triptych: The Country & Western Big Band Suite.” Guests raised their glasses after a brief toast by Ballroom Marfa’s executive director, Susan Sutton. “I just took a sip like it was Champagne,” said a cringing Yvonne Force Villareal after she accepted a shot of tequila.

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