Society / Featured Parties

Legacy of Late Houston Billionaire Spotlighted in Record $2.37 Million MFAH Grand Gala — Fayez Sarofim’s Impact Continues

A Surprise Artwork Loan Sweetens This Black-Tie Night

BY // 11.27.22
photography Jenny Antill

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Grand Gala Ball saluting the life and legacy of billionaire philanthropist and noted art collector Fayez Sarofim drew the crème de la crème of Houston society, a black-tie clutch of the full regiment of society’s cognoscenti. The blue bloods and young bloods, old guard and the welcomed new guard gathered in the museum’s Cullinan Hall that for the occasion had been adorned with 43 masterworks from the late Sarofim’s collection.

Providing jaw-dropping backdrop to the soigné clutch of 475 were paintings by John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Robert Rauschenberg, Willem de Kooning and Ellsworth Kelly, the selections reflecting the full breadth of Sarofim’s collecting.

The Egyptian-born Sarofim passed away in May at the age of 93.

Leading the charge on this evening were the Sarofim children, who served as honorary gala chairs: Christopher and Courtney Sarofim, Allison Sarofim and Patrick Seabase, Andrew and Mona Sarofim, and Phillip Sarofim and Christy Cham. Seated with them at the lengthy family table on the edge of the dance floor was Sarofim’s widow Susan Sarofim.

The Sarofim Foundation and the Sarofim family served as premier underwriters for the evening that raised a record $2.376 million for the museum‘s operating fund.

Reggie Smith; Terry Wayne Jones; Bill Baldwin; Jay Jones (Photo by Jenny Antill)
Reggie Smith, Terry Wayne Jones, Bill Baldwin, Jay Jones at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Grand Gala (Photo by Jenny Antill)

In surprise announcement to some in the vast hall, Christopher Sarofim, on stage with museum director Gary Tinterow, announced that 125 works from the Fayez S. Sarofim collection would be placed on extended loan to the museum.

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In a nod to Sarofim’s memory The Events Company reflected his taste in florals and color while City Kitchen based its menu on the likes of the late philanthropist.

Among guests were stalwart philanthropists whose families have been involved in the museum for generations. These included Isla and Tommy Reckling, Lynne and Joe Hudson, Martha (Long) and Sean Wade, Lisa and Will Mathis, Kitch Taub, Aliyya and Herman Stude, Nancy and Butch Abendshein, Terry Wayne Jones and Jay Jones, Margaret Alkek Williams, Anne Duncan, Leslie and Jack Blanton, Joan Schnitzer, and Ann and John Bookout.

Nancy and Rich Kinder; Cyvia Wolff; Photo by Jenny Antill (2) (Photo by Jenny Antill)
Nancy & Rich Kinder, Cyvia Wolff at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Grand Gala Ball (Photo by Jenny Antill)

The impressive turnout included billionaire philanthropists Nancy and Rich Kinder, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and wife Whitney, Rice University president Reginald DesRoches and his wife Paula, Houston Endowment president and CEO Ann Stern and attorney Karl Stern, New York-based fashion designer Adam Lippes (a Sarofim fave), Jerold B. Katz Foundation president Evan Katz and his wife Nicole, Hanover Company founder Murry Bowden and his wife Polly, and energy mogul Mike Linn and wife Carol.

Louisa Sarofim; Christopher Sarofim; Allison Sarofim; Photo by Jenny Antill (Photo by Jenny Antill)
Louisa Sarofim, Christopher Sarofim, Allison Sarofim at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Grand Gala (Photo by Jenny Antill)

Representing a younger generation of philanthropists were Gillian Sarofim, Louisa Sarofim, Meredith Flores Barker and Mason Barker,  Lily Schnitzer and Johnathan Schnitzer, Kaki Schnitzer and Douglas Schnitzer, Alanna Flores, Lexi Sakowitz Marek, Phoebe Massey Cholnoky and TJ Cholnoky, Laura and Keefer Lehner, and Lauren and Max Barrett.

More notables: Mrs. Raye White, Anne and Albert Chao, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Celina Hellmund, Bobbie Nau, Hallie Vanderhider, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Sara Dodd-Denton and Will Denton, Macey and Harry Reasoner, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Joan and Steve Smith, Ellen and Charles Sheedy, and so many more.

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