The temperature wasn’t the only thing soaring Wednesday night. Over at 57th Street and Park Avenue—not exactly a hotbed of evening activity—the uptown Phillips de Pury outpost was packed within an inch of its life for Photographers for Friends 2011, a combined silent and live auction supporting Friends in Deed, a crisis center for life-threatening illness founded by Mike Nichols and Cynthia O’Neal and celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
And the goings on were heated from the get-go during cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the first floor.
In one gallery, a Maria E. Piñeres photo entitled “Two on Teal” and depicting a rather graphic sex act had a very Upper East Side couple so fascinated they felt the need to touch it (to see if it was real? Unclear and eww.) while nearby, “Fabio” by Richie Williamson, showing a sculpted, oiled man’s torso in all its glory, had seersucker and suit-clad onlookers practically pushing each other out of the way to get a closer look.
A couple rooms down, two famous ladies went head-to-head for most coveted image: Gisele Bundchen, shot by Gilles Bensimon and Jacqueline Onassis by Ron Galella. Fifteen minutes before the silent auction closed, Jackie was winning by multiple bids.
Francisco Costa, Honorary Board member Jane Holzer and Ally Hilfiger did their part, thoughtfully perusing the lots, as waiters passed around platters of toast with burrata and bacon wrapped asparagus. There was plenty of people-watching, too: a man wearing a shirt reading “Tap a Keg, Get A Joint” paired with cowboy boots; another sporting a full on pale, pink suit, and a girl so skinny she prompted my friend to remark, “I want to feed her the entire tray of empanadas.”
Just before the silent auction closed, Hilfiger bid on an Anton Perich photo of Andy Warhol.
“I’m buying it for my dad,” she said, alluding to the upcoming Father’s Day.
Then it was upstairs to the live auction, where ten lots, including Bert Stern’s “Marilyn Monroe: From the Last Sitting” and Marilyn Minter’s “Nail Biter,” which went for $10,000 and $9,000, respectively. Costa even walked around holding up Peter Hujar’s “Bouche Walker (Reggie’s Dog)” like a girl showing the rounds card in a boxing ring. It brought in $8,500.
The final lot was “The Andy Cohen Experience,” cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with and tickets to Cohen’s show (the Bravo exec is on the non-profit’s board). Or in his words, “Basically, we all get drunk together and make a TV show.” Hot stuff.