Society / Featured Parties

Texas Takes L.A. — Inside an Unforgettable Three-Day Affair Raising Funds for the Louvre

Houston Philanthropist Becca Cason Thrash Assembled a Team of Aesthetes, Creatives, and Fashion Paramours for the Extravagant, Art-Filled Weekend

BY // 09.20.22

A three-day affair in  Los Angeles — as epic as any Cecil B. DeMille film — was thrown by Houston philanthropist and world-renowned hostess Becca Cason Thrash and the Louvre. Yes, the Louvre — the iconic museum in Paris that’s home to such treasures as the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Thrash has been vice chairman of the board of directors of American and International Friends of the Louvre since 2005. She was invited by then-museum director Henri Loyrette to create the first-ever fundraiser for the organization in Paris in 2008.  Since then, five iterations of the art-filled event have occurred, four in Paris (one, in 2017, with three days in Venice tacked on) and now stateside in Los Angeles. Thrash also organized a similar three-day fund-raiser in Mexico City in 2020 to benefit Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.

Thrash assembles aesthetes, creatives, fashion paramours, and the beau monde for her extravaganzas. The L.A. itinerary was virtually Viagra for any lover of art and great design — interiors and architecture. . . and did I mention fashion?

Visits arranged for those lucky enough to secure a ticket included entrée to some of the most important private art collections, in the homes of Lynda and Stewart Resnick, Darren Star (producer of Sex and the City and Emily in Paris), Jeffrey Deitch, and Oscar-winning producer Michael Phillip, as well as Larry Gagosian’s West Coast art-filled bachelor pad and the home and private museum of billionaire philanthropist Steve Tisch, whose vast collection includes more than 15 works by Ed Ruscha. Among the highlights, entrepreneurs Liane and Richard Weintraub hosted an Italian brunch and tour of Villa Tramonto, their clifftop villa in the Pacific Palisades, which was built by decorator and movie-palace painter Anthony Heinsbergen in 1928.

The Lopez living room
The Lopez living room (Photography by Tiffany Rose Koury)

The week’s glamorous hangover was a fait accompli long before the first sip of champagne on the first night. Welcome cocktails had been arranged at the home of Ronnie Haft and his partner, Andrew Nagel, fancifully named Forever Estate, designed in 1923 by Gordon Kaufmann. The pedigree of the residence is impressive, having been the home of Phil Spector; the original Catwoman, Eartha Kitt; and Frank Mancuso Jr.

Ne plus ultra hostess, Becca Cason Thrash had arranged for two official Lucullan feasts as part of the itinerary. The first dinner was held at the 1957 mid-century home of Eugenio Lopez, designed by Wayne McAllister. Among the international jet-set, he’s a familiar name, as his seating card is often found at the most gilded of tables. He’s the founder of Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo and Museo Jumex and is considered one of the most important contemporary collectors in the world — simply check any list, such as ARTNews Top 100. Given that the evening was sponsored by Vacheron Constantin and LVMH wines and spirits, those attending knew it was time to break out their most eye-catching ensembles.

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As the soigné crowd meandered through the home making their way to dinner, they marveled at the works on view by Richard Prince, Donald Judd, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. Handsome NYC-based interior designer Lance Scott remarked, “The art is insane. Those Louise Bourgeois spiders were a sexy prelude for this magical poolside dinner.”

Another highlight for Scott was sitting near one of the band members from Good Charlotte. We both laughingly acknowledged that one of the brothers — though we didn’t know which — was married to Cameron Diaz. Or Nicole Ritchie. . . Forgive our late-Gen X memory. We spied Dallas’ Christen Wilson in a corner, catching up with longtime friend Gela Nash-Taylor, a former actress and the designer behind the global phenomenon Juicy Couture; she’s married to Duran Duran heartthrob John Taylor.

 

Home of Colleen Bell
Home of Colleen Bell (Photography by Allison Buck)

The final evening, which Becca Cason Thrash lovingly dubbed La Grande Nuit, was held at the formidable Holmby Hills estate of the Honorable Colleen Bell and Bradley Bell. The itinerary proclaimed: “Formal black-tie dinner.” Colleen, a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, and Bradley, a multi-Emmy Award-winning writer/producer, opened their art-filled home for cocktails and seated dinner in a dazzling tent on the grounds of their estate.

For those not in the know, that neighborhood was once aptly described to me thus: “Beverly Hills is where the working rich live, and Holmby Hills is where those that might not need work reside.” The residences are all grand but given the imposing gates around many of those sequestered manses, passersby would never suspect. Such was the case with the Bells’.

I found myself in an endless queue as my Alto (my top recommendation for traversing this sprawling city) sat idling behind a line of Porsche Macans, Bentleys, and a few Teslas. Who doesn’t adore a glamorous evening even more so when there isn’t a stuffy step-and-repeat queue. Instead, awaiting us behind the grand entrance — the couple seemed to have taken Steve Martin’s quote to heart: “You know, you’re really nobody in L.A. unless you live in a house with a really big door” — were the Bells alongside Becca, for air-kisses and to provide directions to navigate the sprawling home. Many made their way to the Hôtel Ritz Bar Hemingway, which had been created for the evening by the hotel, complete with presiding mixologist Colin Field.

Like most guests, once I secured a Ritz Pimm’s (a classic from the Parisian bar made up with Campari, bitters, orange Curaçao, ginger ale, and champagne), I wandered about, discovering works by Jeff Koons (his monumental sculpture took up most of one of the rooms), Picasso, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

As cocktail hour waned, guests made their way to the tent, which was cinematic in design — as if we had all been transported to an era that embraced the sumptuous supper clubs. Thrash and Houston’s Richard Flowers from The Events Company designed all the parties that week. “Richard’s been by my side for 28 years,” she said. “I don’t make a move without him.” When I asked who she was wearing that evening, she responded, “It’s custom Naeem Khan. I always select an outfit and then plan the decor of an event around it. I would hate to clash.”

I could go on for days about that evening, which ended with a large part of the Dallas contingency having cocktails at a bottle-service club in Hollywood and finally reconvening late-night with Thrash at The Peninsula, where most were staying, for a last round of recap cocktails. The dinner was divine, but perhaps most of all, the conversations in that tent were enchanting. As dessert was served, guests were treated to an abbreviated live auction conducted by Sotheby’s.

Another credit to Becca Cason Thrash is that almost no one refused her request for items. One of the big blocks up that night was a bespoke watch designed by Tiffany, which was purchased for a generous amount by restaurateur and art collector Michael Chow (AKA Mr. Chow).

Alexandra Longanecker Lazacno and Duyen Huynh Nguyen in Bach Mai custom gowns
Alexandra Longanecker Lazacno and Duyen Huynh Nguyen in Bach Mai custom gowns (Photography by Allison Buck)

Among the socialites, celebrities, and art-world stars spotted: Longtime Francophile and chairman of the American Friends of the Louvre board Kip Forbes; Ina Giscard d’Estaing, whose father-in-law was French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing; Hôtel Ritz GM Mark Raffray; Patrick Hessler, in from Austria; Parisian Lucas Somoza; Baroness Rose Anne de Pampelonne, in from her Singapore residence; and designer Naeem Khan. L.A. locals in attendance included Regina and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, former Parisians who moved to L.A. with their children; actor Chris O’Donnell; Julia Sorkin; designer Monique Lhuillier; former Ambassador Robert Tuttle and his wife Maria; Carolyn Powers; actress Jennifer Tilly, on the arm of style icon Cameron Silver, owner of vintage couture nirvana Decades; one-half of art-world darlings The Haas brothers, Nikolai Haas; and James and Natalie Bloomingdale.

Sutton Stracke, Crystal Kung Minkoff, Jennifer Tilly, Marilyn Heston
Sutton Stracke, Crystal Kung Minkoff, Jennifer Tilly, Marilyn Heston (Photography by Allison Buck)

For Bravo aficionados, yes, a few Housewives made it to an event (thankfully sans television crew), including Sutton Stracke and Crystal Kung Minkoff. And, lest I forget the crew from Texas: Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Christen and Derek Wilson, Zoe Bonnette, Lisa Arpey, Lucinda and Javier Loya, Michael and Melissa Mithoff, Milton Townsend, Elizabeth Peterson, Martha, and Richard Finger, Nickki St. George, Brian Bolke, Ceron, Kim, and Justin Whitman, Myrna and Bob Schlegel, Caroline and Corey Kelly, Valerie Fuller, Karen Pulaski, and Duyen Huynh Nguyen and Marc Nguyen.

One of my party recaps wouldn’t be complete without accolades for those who came wearing their A-game. First off, Moll Anderson, at the Bells’ party in an emerald-green slip dress topped with an entrance-making kaftan-style robe from La Vie Style House. Moll’s son, Mike Camello, had generously provided Kástra Elión Vodka (the company he co-founded), and was there with his gorgeous wife, Aphrodite. Lance Scott went with the top two Toms for both evenings: head-to-toe Thom Browne (is there any other way to wear the king of shrunken suits) for the night at Eugenio’s and Tom Ford for black tie at the Bells’. Duyen Huynh Nguyen looked glorious wearing Bach Mai’s deep-V strapless column gown in Strawberry Lemonade. Ceron paired a traffic-stopping black-and-white printed Gucci jacket with marabou cuffs (from the Love Parade collection) with a long black Ann Demeulemeester skirt he’d found at Maxfield just hours prior. Finally, Crystal Lourd must have gotten a sneak peek at the color theme of the tent at the Bells’, as she opted for a stunning green Giambattista Valli.

And the best drop-the-mic moment with which to end: Miss Becca Cason Thrash raised more than $2 million that week for the cause.

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