By Anna Sekula with additional reporting by Jennifer Ross Posted July 28, 2010, 1:20 PM EDT
Still regarded as one of the bigger events in the Hamptons, the Watermill Center's summer benefit is also among the most visually creative, year after year filling the six acres of its Long Island campus with an array of unusual installations and performers. This year, the 17th iteration of the fund-raiser, the theme was “Paradiso,” after the third part of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, and artists interpreted this with costumes, sound, movement, and sculpture. Ranging from a white fiberglass ape to a dunk tank-like cubicle where an artist was doused in paint, the work included mixed media, live performance, and installations.
The gala also saw the first collaboration between Robert Wilson's arts center and International Flavors & Fragrances for the creation of a perfume inspired by the event and its location. Dubbed WM Paradiso 2010, the scent made by senior perfumer Loc Dong was sprayed during the benefit using diffusers from Prolitec and 100 bottles were included in the night's auction.
Sharon Stone—who hosted the live auction alongside Simon de Pury of Phillips de Pury & Company—Calvin Klein, Andre Balazs, Salman Rushdie, and Alec Baldwin were among those in attendance; the event hosted 1,000 guests for cocktails and 600 for dinner.