A Night for the Museum

This winter ball was certainly a party


“Come on—it’s a party!” protested Mark Gilbertson as a snapper asked a woman to obscure his adult beverage for photographic posterity. It sure looked like a party as black tie denizens entered The Pierre Wednesday night for the annual Museum of the City of New York Winter Ball. Five bars (count ‘em!) circled the perimeter of the cocktail room like water stations for runners in the midst of a long distance race. The evening’s sponsor, Dennis Basso, made his presence known by decorating the space with mannequins in his designs like a white fur biker jacket over a sheer black dress. White-jacketed waiters pushed trays of salmon canapés the size of postage stamps on a crowd including a black-coat clad woman in a bejeweled headband, a man in a brocade tuxedo with an obi-cum-cummerbund and another lady in an elaborate red gown complete with matching chapeau. One woman’s zealous finger candy caught the eye of a passing gent.

“We should grab it and make a run for it,” he joked. “We could retire on it.”

Multiple series of flashing lights and chimes did little to deter the hordes from their party catch-up, though they eventually made their way into the ballroom for a seated dinner.

“Top of the food chain,” quipped Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, eyeing Nina Griscom’s jewel brooch nestled in her décolletage.

“The real show is those,” she replied, pointing at the Prince’s sapphire studs.

Even post-cocktails, spirits continued to drive guests’ thoughts as they worked their way through the polar ballroom.

“It’s so cold in here, we need alcohol to elevate our body temperature,” said one lady as she made a beeline for waiter and a wine bottle.

But the MCNY draws a famously loyal crowd, so there were no deserters. Gilbertson, a chair of the museum’s director’s council, reminded everyone that the first such “gala” was in 1985 and cost $45 a head (the current going rate is $400-$3,500 for a seat at a prime table). And as he shrewdly added, “We don’t ask you for more money when you get here.”

Instead, perhaps fueled by libations, guests hit the dance floor until close to midnight.

“Do you know who sings this?” queried one man as Ke$ha’s “Timber” blared.

It didn’t matter. It was a party.

Photos: A Night for the Museum

Marina Rust and Ian Connor. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

Dennis Basso, a guest, and Alexandra Lebenthal. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

A guest and Jamie Tisch. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

Mark and Renee Rockefeller. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

Leonel Piraino and Nina Griscom. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

Frederick Anderson and Valesca Guerrand-Hermès. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

Tory Burch and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

Christine and Steve Schwarzman. Photo by Patrick McMullan.