Pop Culture

Inside the 2023 LACMA Gala, Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Kim Kardashian, and More of Hollywood’s Art-Loving Royalty

“You see that, right there,” Govan told me, directing my attention to the exposed steel beams that will one day house 150,000 works. “I promise, you’ll like it.”

Billy Farrell/BFA.com.

The building loomed over the cocktail hour, which was supposed to run from 6:00 to 6:30—mercifully the cocktails were flowing nearly two hours later, as the art world and the film world found their own cliques, mingling together occasionally. Both camps were quite heavily represented. Antwaun Sargent introduced me to Colman Domingo, before Domingo went to chat with Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemmons, and Sargent joined his boss, Larry Gagosian, to chat with novelist Emma Cline and the artist Austyn Weiner. “That’s Billie Eilish,” said Jordan Wolfson, affectless, as Eilish walked past. Keanu Reeves came in with the artist Alexandra Grant, and Jon Hamm was standing steps away from the artist Charles Gaines. At the bar toward the back, collector Peter Brant was chatting with the dealer Tony Shafrazi near reps from the David Kordansky Gallery and Hauser & Wirth CEO Ewan Venters.

After finally corralling everyone to their seats, Govan came on to thank some local politicians in attendance—“District two, we’re in district two now, where is Holly Mitchell, oh hi Holly!”—and alluded to recent global events, saying that “Los Angeles is such a diverse community that people crying out in pain everywhere in the world can be heard in LA.”

“The artists and their creativity help see our way forward,” he said.

Eva Longoria introduced Baca, this year’s honoree, who graciously accepted the standing ovation and said, “I’ve been painting over half my life in the LA River, telling the story of the people who disappeared from the river banks.”

And then the room hushed as Pitt took the podium and began a rousing speech in honor of Fincher, who directed the actor in Seven, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

“Well, here’s something you never hear in a David Fincher screening: ‘That was fun. We should have brought the kids,’” he said, in his famously droll pitch. “Hi, my name is Brad Pitt, and I’m a survivor.”

Pitt, now with a shit-eating grin on his face, started offering up some of the things you hear the director say on a Fincher set.

First: “Let’s shoot this now before we all lose interest in living.”

And another: “Okay, we have the out-of-focus version. Now, let’s try it in focus.”

And last: “I want you guys to enjoy yourselves, but that’s what Saturdays and Sundays are for.”

“My life was forever altered one day in ’94 when I sat down for a coffee with David Fincher,” said Pitt. “Now, I don’t know if what we do really matters in the end. What I do think what matters is the people we hitch ourselves to and the indelible mark that they leave upon our very being.”

Fincher, a bit flustered, admitted that growing up, he always wanted to be a visual artist. And maybe he is—he conceded that a movie director might have to oversee hundreds of staff and scout places to shoot and use actors to embody their vision and hustle through meetings with backers to get funding… but artists have to do that, too, right?

“I’m pretty sure Cristo had a lot of weird meetings about locations and street closures and load times and refueling and linear acres of fabric, and somehow I always think of him as an artist,” he said.

In closing the speech, he looked to Baca and said “I’m grateful for my inclusion, and to see things standing next to Judy. I may even be mistaken for an artist.”

Shortly thereafter, Lenny Kravitz came out to rip through a smattering of hits that honestly sounded pretty amazing. Perhaps more amazingly, Lenny looks like he’s about 35 when in fact he’ll actually turn 60 next year—I know, shocking, I know. When he hung up his axe, Kravitz had officially marked the end of the LACMA Art+Film gala. Or so I thought—a short time later, I was at the Chateau Marmont, escorted up to the penthouse on the 6th floor, where Gucci was throwing a house-party-esque rager, complete with the stoner-perfect post-gala food provided by Jon & Vinny’s. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, both big art collectors, were whipping up the ’za themselves, and upon seeing Jonas Wood and his wife Shio Kusaka enter the party, Shook and Vitolo whisked them into the kitchen to say hello.

De Sarno was holding court on the balcony snapping selfies with Kim Kardashian as the Sunset Strip loomed in the background. At a certain point, Kardashian went to talk to her old boss, Paris Hilton. (Do recall, Kim made an early foray into the pop culture consciousness playing Hilton’s intern on The Simple Life.) Kering CEO Francois Henri-Pinault was drinking a Stella Artois beside Emma Chamberlain, and Jeremy Renner, who’s made very few appearances since his life-threatening snowplow accident earlier this year, hung out by the elevator. And when the DJ dropped “Gimme Gimme Gimme” by ABBA, De Sarno jumped into the middle of a dancing scrum that included all the models, Eilish, and Julia Garner. One of the many Italians in the designer’s entourage yelled into my ears “Welcome to Gucci, baby!”

It was quite the welcome, but at a certain point, one has to leave Gucci, baby, as well. As the hour crept toward one in the morning, our intrepid host, DiCaprio, still in his Gucci tux, peeled off from Sotheby’s vice chairman Jackie Wachter and Wolfson and best friend Tobey Maguire to greet someone across the room. DiCaprio took Ceretti’s hand and walked toward the exit of the Chateau penthouse. It’s art, and film, and fashion, and Lenny Kravitz, and philanthropy, and Los Angeles, and museums, and celebrity, and…maybe…true love.

And that’s a wrap on this week’s True Colors! Like what you’re seeing? Hate what you’re reading? Have a tip? Drop me a line at nate_freeman@condenast.com.

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