The Menil Collection’s 30th anniversary Luminous Ball raised more than $2.5 million.
THE PARTY Few institutions in the city are as revered as the Menil Collection, so when such an important cultural beacon celebrates its 30th anniversary with a gala—only the fourth since opening in 1987—it’s undoubtedly the hottest ticket of the year. Some 600 lucky guests, a mix of philanthropists, visiting aristocrats and top artists from around the globe, made the list and put on their most glamorous black-tie attire to toast the occasion. THE SCENE Fittingly scheduled to coincide with the winter supermoon, the party, chaired by Allison Sarofim, Leigh and Reggie Smith, and Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, took place under two massive tents constructed on the museum’s front lawn. Before dinner, attendees browsed the galleries, bubbly in hand, viewing the collection of artwork that’s grown from Dominique and John de Menil’s founding gift three decades ago. The most popular stop was the surrealist gallery, home to artist Max Ernst’s moonlit scene, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” Not only did the piece symbolize the de Menils’ close relationship with Ernst and other major 20th century artists, but it also served as the gala theme’s inspiration. THE HIGHLIGHTS In addition to unparalleled visual art, patrons were also treated to a concert featuring Grammy-winning Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo and Jerry Harrison of famed ’80s band Talking Heads. Despite the long roster of A-listers, the spotlight shined brightest on Menil Foundation chair and life trustee Louisa Stude Sarofim, the night’s honoree. After an impassioned thank you from Menil Director Rebecca Rabinow, Sarofim took the stage. “When I agreed to Mrs. de Menil’s daunting request [to become a lifetime trustee], I did so because I respected what she and her husband, John, believed. I was—and still am—moved by their approach to art, their spiritual values and their determination to transform Houston,” Louisa said. “The Menil Collection has the power to change lives. Indeed, it has changed my own.” -Ray Dennison
Photos by Jenny Antill and Daniel Ortiz