There was no shortage of dazzling personalities at the recent Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Art + Film Gala honoring Ed Ruscha and Stanley Kubrick. In only its second year, the event, which was held in late October and raised more than $3.5 million, attracted an almost blinding galaxy of stars from the worlds of art, entertainment, fashion, and business. Artists John Baldessari, Doug Aitken, and Barbara Kruger rubbed shoulder pads with Hollywood heavy hitters Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Hanks. Long-standing luminaries Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore shared the spotlight with heavenly young bodies like Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Twilight leading man Robert Pattinson. It was the kind of evening where no one would have been surprised to hear Leonard Nimoy broker an introduction between the artist Catherine Opie and Korean YouTube sensation Psy.
But even amid the celebrity wattage, the glittering Chow family—its impish paterfamilias, Michael; his Gucci-clad wife, Eva, who cochaired the evening with Leonardo DiCaprio; and the Chows’ combined offspring, China, Maximillian, and Asia—stood out like one of Angelina Jolie’s legs on the Oscar red carpet. And not just because at one point in the night Michael, dressed in a natty black corduroy tuxedo, started imitating his friend Mick Jagger’s moves.
Eva Chow led a merry dance throughout the night, owning the floor in a dizzying social waltz with the deep-pocketed potentates, starlets, and artists who inhabit her speed-dial orbit. (DiCaprio, Barrymore, and Sean Penn are among the A-listers for whom Eva serves as a godmother of sorts.) Judging from her deft ability to work the room, Eva is the reason the Chow family is more current than ever in the art and entertainment axis, why so many funds are pouring into LACMA, and why there are so many new Asian faces at their events.
A formidable perfumed steamroller of a woman with a producer’s gift for making things happen, Eva is the ideal social and business complement to Michael—an imperturbable source of calm in designer heels. Quips friend Mickey Rourke: “She is unflappable. They should change the restaurant’s name to Mrs. Chow.” (In addition to the new Mr. Chow, opening in Malibu this month, there are, in fact, plans to eventually launch a Mrs. Chow bakery.)
“The Chows are unique,” said Michael Govan, the chief executive of LACMA, who had the idea to create an annual fundraiser for the museum to bring together the often bifurcated universes of film and art. “They are extremely worldly, and not because he is Chinese and she is Korean and they live in Los Angeles and travel a lot. They themselves are creative and move seamlessly between the business and creative worlds—food, art, fashion, and film—in a way that’s very rare, particularly for Los Angeles.”