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A $1 Million Gift Plus $4 Million in Jewelry and a Horde of Priceless Persian Art?

This Islamic Worlds Affair is the Richest Gala Ever

BY // 11.22.17
photography Priscilla Dickson, Wilson Parish

What riches spilled forth during the Art of the Islamic Worlds gala where 480 of the city’s most erudite internationals gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston‘s Islamic arts initiative! A million dollar gift, a long-term loan of 600 treasured objects and the preview of the exhibition Bestowing Beauty: Masterpieces from Persian Lands rounded out the stellar evening.

Add the thoughtful, cultural treatise delivered by special guest  Prince Amyn Aga Khan, brother of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, and this amounted to one of the grander of the consistently rich Islamic arts biennial galas.

MFAH director Gary Tinterow was not overstating when he remarked to the black-tie gathering, “This year is especially meaningful.” Ambassador Hushang Ansary and his wife, Shahla, Tinterow announced, had committed $1 million to establish an endowment for the department of Islamic Art. Recalling their initial seed gift of $2.7 million to the initiative in 2007, Tinterow noted, that the Ansarys are “among the most thoughtful and deliberate philanthropists that I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with.”

That gift brought the total raised on the evening to $1.6 million and enabled the acquisition of “Layla and Majnun,” a 17th century tile panel depicting the story of star-crossed lovers.

The Ansarys served as honorary chairs, standing in tandem with the gala executive committee comprised of Rania Daniel, Zeina Fares, Vahid Kooros, Sima Ladjevardian, Sultana Mangalji, Franci Neely, Cenk Ozdogan, Sabiha Rehmatulla, Aliyya Stude and Monsour Taghdisi.

The long-term loan of the aforementioned 600 pieces to the collection, 100 of which were on view in the exhibition in the Audrey Jones Beck Building, was confirmed only that afternoon. Tinterow noted that collector Hossein Afshar had sent a selfie of himself signing the agreement.

Holiday Gifting

  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Wayne Smith
  • Asher Gallery
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Wayne Smith
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Cotton Club
  • Cotton Club
  • Elaine Turner - Felicia Stole in Magenta
  • Elaine Turner - GiGi Flats
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume

Tinterow recalled from 10 days ago in London how pleased Afshar was to be sharing his collection, saying, “You know Gary, I’m a very rich man. But I’m a socialist at heart and I care only about the people and I want to share everything that I have and that I have done with the people. This has made me so happy to be able to give voice and space to my life’s work.”

While the exhibition, on view during the cocktail hour, wowed so did City Kitchen‘s Persian-inspired dinner that included braised baby artichoke with labneh (Middle Eastern cheese) salad of arugula, followed by the main course of tagine style beef short ribs, couscous pilaf and grilled salmon. Guests then moved to the Cullinan Hall lobby for a dessert bar featuring cookies, cakes, and macaroons, along with berries, ice cream, and assorted teas.

And there in the “Tenenbaum Tea Lounge” was the grand finale — a display of $4 million worth of David Webb jewelry, provided by Tenenbaum Jewelers, one of the evening’s two grand corporate underwriters along with La Perla.

Who: Ali Ansari, Francoise and Edward Djerejian, Nijad Fares, Herman Stude, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Sara and Bill Morgan, Maureen and Adel Chaouch, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Catherine Ozdogan, Laurie and Reed Morian, Gail and Louis Adler, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Diane Lokey Farb, Gail and Louis Adler, Amir Davoody and Rana Mehr.

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