LAS VEGAS On February 27, 1,000 guests attended the Power of Love gala at the Bellagio for Keep Memory Alive and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The evening—with a reception, silent and live auctions, dinner, and a performance by Barry Manilow—raised more than $27 million for research into Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other memory disorders.
“This was a big team effort,” said Keep Memory Alive director of special events Anna Robins, who began planning the gala with MGM Mirage Events and the Bellagio catering and production departments in July. Robins planned the event with Camille Ruvo, wife of Larry Ruvo, founder and C.E.O. of Keep Memory Alive. A committee also helped with auction items. “We’re continually building our database and event list and a lot of new people came this year,” said Robins. Individuals paid $1,500 to $7,500 a ticket and tables of 10 went for as much as $75,000.
While guests perused the high-ticket items as showgirls on stilts and other characters walked the floor, the crowd nibbled on hors d’oeuvres served on roving multi-tiered buffet stands. In the grand ballroom, red roses and calla lilies in cut crystal bowls on trays filled with crystal marbles topped 100 dinner tables covered with red sequin cloths and red satin napkins. Heart-shaped black plaques bore each table’s number, and at each place were five glasses of wine, a box of commemorative playing cards, and a program.
Wolfgang Puck and Eric Klein prepared a first course of big eye tuna sashimi and tartare. Thomas Keller served herb-roasted loin of lamb for the entrée, and pastry chef Jean-Marie Auboine finished the meal with a tower of raspberry and poppy essence. One hundred volunteers and 45 sommeliers kept things running smoothly.
Robin Leach hosted the evening, a program that included speeches, honors, and a live auction with surprise guests Danny DeVito and Brad Garrett. Three 2011 Mercedes SLS cars brought in nearly $800,000 alone. Entertainment came from more than 20 dancers, a portrait painter, and finally, Manilow’s 40-minute performance.