The art world went Venetian the other night at the New York Academy of Art’s TriBeCa Ball benefit. Guests such as Tom Wolfe, Michael Graves, Mary Boone and Eric Fischl spent the earlier part of the evening browsing four floors of art students at work in Eileen Guggenheim’s downtown fine arts school, and checking out an exhibition of Venetian masks that were up for auction. After that, they retired in “Venetian style” to the first-floor ball and dinner, where a three-cello ensemble called Rasputina entertained in 19th-century dress.
“There’s a new crowd of downtown philanthropists stepping up to the plate,” Guggenheim said, surveying the eclectic crowd. “There’s Kip Forbes on one end of the room to Muriel Kauffman on the other, to Billy Gilroy. I think Andre Balazs has influenced them a lot.”
Sandy Pittman was telling tales of her latest trek, this one to New Guinea, where she wound up behind bars. After her guide got malaria and had to be evacuated to a hospital, the authorities held her for 12 hours until someone could vouch for her, she said.
“They fed me peppered dog meat and rice,” she said. “My husband and the U.S. government got me out of the clinker.”
Presumably, she’ll eat better next week in the Himalayas, where she’s taking Blaine Trump and — possibly — Martha Stewart, on their very first treks.
Later that night, the attention shifted uptown — and further east — where Tibet House New York was on the receiving end of a benefit performance at Carnegie Hall. David Byrne, Natalie Merchant, Allen Ginsberg and Spalding Gray were among those who lent their talents. After the show, nearly 400 people, including co-chairs Harrison and Melissa Mathison Ford, gathered for dinner at Symphony Cafe.