On Sunday night, a starry mix from the fashion and art worlds made their way to the historic Seagram building for the first Project Perpetual benefit and auction. Founded by Svetlana Uspenskaya, the wife of Russian billionaire Alexei Kuzmichev, the non-profit brought together talents like Jeff Koons, Daniel Arsham, and Sofia Coppola to raise money for the United Nation's children's program using contemporary art. For the inaugural auction, Uspenskaya tapped Koons to create a work using one of fashion's most iconic bags, the Hermès Birkin, resulting in a series of eight ready-made sculptures featuring donated Birkins from the likes of Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg. Based on Picasso's La Soupe (1902), Koons's gleaming white sculpture laden with Birkins served as the evening's spectacular centerpiece. “It has such a strong energy,” explained Uspenskaya, the evening's glamorous host. “This is how I see art, not by intellect but by heart.”
Once the well-heeled crowd took their seats in the Pool room of the Four Seasons, the real festivities began, starting with an impromptu performance of One Love by Mary J. Blige. Next to the stage was auctioneer Simon de Pury, who helped the charity raise nearly 6 million dollars by egging on friends and bidders like Larry Gagosian, Aby Rosen, and Todd Eberle. Perhaps charmed by de Pury's energy, Naomi Campbell stood up to volunteer her Birkin for a new sculpture, which was quickly snatched up by diamond magnate Laurence Graff. “You know I made you rich,” squealed Campbell as she posed with Graff and his new sculpture. While not everyone got to go home with a Koons, the charitable spirit in the room was palpable with guests like Agnes Gund promising significant donations to Uspenskaya's cause even after all the bags had been grabbed.