Lost Waltz

New York

Left: Jay-Z with musician Chrisette Michele. Right: MoMA director Glenn Lowry, Martin Scorsese, and Helen Morris. (Photos: Stephanie Berger)

When the Museum of Modern Art sends out a separate press release just to announce the possible attendance of one guest at a party, it had better be someone special. We already knew that Tuesday night’s annual black-tie Party in the Garden was honoring collectors Debra and Leon Black and recently anointed Oscar royalty Martin Scorsese and that Richard Serra would also be on hand to keep an eye on his newly installed sculptures, so it seemed that someone with serious cultural chops must have been added to the door list. The man of the hour? One Justin Timberlake. Mike Bloomberg, Glenn Lowry, and Richard Meier may be powerful figures, but they’re hardly ringing in “Summer Love.”

Arriving at 7 PM for predinner cocktails, I made my way into the sculpture garden hoping for an early glimpse of the heartthrob but noted only a couple of white-suited look-alikes. Amazonian actress Sonja Francis, on the other hand, was practically ubiquitous, to the point of being in the way, while more predictable attendees Jeff and Justine Koons, Chuck Close, and Doug Aitken mingled as discreetly as they could. Scanning the crowd for friendly faces, I spotted Lombard-Freid Projects director Cristian Alexa and artist Anne Collier. The latter was on the lookout for a flighty Trisha Donnelly, who had already ducked out to restyle her hair. Roni Horn and White Columns director Matthew Higgs were both in a mellow mood, while Liam Gillick offered a typically wry take on the Serras: “They could crush 150 rich people. It adds a certain tension.”

Around 8 PM, a trumpeter sounded the call for dinner, prompting a gradual drift inside. Discussion of seating resembled real estate chitchat: “We’re somewhere in the fifties.” “Oh, we’re way downtown.” Unfortunately, the failure of no less than three last-minute bids for a table left me rootless for an hour in uptown’s culinary no-man’s land. I headed back to the museum to rejoin the fray at 10 PM. By all accounts, I missed a short but intelligent speech by Scorsese concerning film’s place in the history of art—and in MoMA’s collection—and a long, boring speech by Mr. Black, the thrust of which no one seemed able to recall.

Left: Collectors Leon and Debra Black. (Photo: Stephanie Berger) Right: Ada and Alex Katz. (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

While festivities wound down inside, the garden began to hop with a distinctly younger crowd, notably uninterested in the Serras but very much interested in one another. (Overheard from a dolled-up pack of junior associates on the make: “This is where all the single men are!”) Most of the art-world faces I’d clocked earlier in the evening had departed, though I did bump into Frieze copublisher Matthew Slotover and jocular London dealer Paul Hedge, the latter in town to oversee the installation of flight-phobic artist Tomoko Takahashi’s project at P. S. 1. “You know what they call the Serra in London, right?” he asked (referring to Broadgate’s Fulcrum). “The Hedge Fund Latrine.”

After about half an hour of our idle banter, a rush toward the marquee at the far end of the garden heralded the onstage appearance of Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, there to introduce (in the cheesiest manner imaginable) the evening’s entertainment, “a real work of art, Ms. Chrisette Michele!” Cue some smooth but forgettable warbling followed by an anonymous DJ spinning school-dance favorites. Those who stuck it out gyrated contentedly, but the elusive JT was conspicuously not among them.

Michael Wilson

Left: MoMA president Marie Josée Kravis with Henry Kravis. Right: Actress Sonja Francis. (Photos: Stephanie Berger)

Left: Artist Chuck Close. Right: Mayor Michael Bloomberg with Diana Taylor. (Photos: Patrick McMullan)

Left: Richard and Clara Serra. Right: Richard Meier. (Photos: Patrick McMullan)

Left: Barry Diller. (Photo: Patrick McMullan) Right: Actress Anna Deavere Smith. (Photo: Stephanie Berger)

Left: Dealer Larry Gagosian. Right: Elizabeth Weymouth with Michael Ovitz. (Photos: Patrick McMullan)

Left: Martin Scorsese. (Photo: Stephanie Berger) Right: Jeff and Justine Koons. (Photo: Patrick McMullan)