Kanye and Murakami Placemats Are Big Hits at Brooklyn Ball

By Lourdes Branch April 4, 2008, 6:24 PM EDT

Guests took home limited-edition placemats designed by Takashi Murakami.

Photo: BizBash

Last night, hundreds hiked to the Brooklyn Museum for the institution’s annual ball, an event that got a big boost this year from Louis Vuitton, which sponsored the affair and built a pop-up store in one of the galleries. Celebrating the Takashi Murakami exhibition, which opens tomorrow—and honoring Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner—the gala drew museum patrons, art enthusiasts, members of the media, and even some uninvited locals who voiced their opinions on Ratner with an angry protest. In 2003, the Tokyo-born artist collaborated with the French design house to create cartoon-and-monogram-patterned handbags; a new print, the “monogramouflage” pattern, is the latest product to emerge from the partnership.

The colorful, art-filled event ran past 11 p.m., entertaining attendees with a performance by an energetic Kanye West and an auction of LV products and Murakami artwork. Outside the guest entrance in the museum parking lot, among valet cars and shuttle buses waiting to chauffeur guests home, we asked attendees for their take on the evening. Many raved about West and the Murakami-designed placemats (a big hit at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Murakami gala in Los Angeles, too), and Vogue’s Anna Wintour stopped for a moment to gush about the “fabulous” auction. Here's what else we heard.

What did you think of the Louis Vuitton tie-in and the decor?
“It was just great to be in a room with the great artists of our time—Takashi Murakami, Kanye West, Frank Gehry, Marc Jacobs, and people who support the arts. It’s an extraordinary exhibit, and they really incorporated the art into the decor, with Murakami balloons up in the air, and the placemats.”
Anonymous producer and manager, Management 360

“They really transformed the museum in an amazing way. We’ve been several years, and this was definitely the best so far.”
Purdy, artist

“The setup was amazing. It definitely catered to everyone who came to the event. It wasn’t like you had to wait to see anything. They made every single guest feel special.”
Carmella Rackham, president, 5000PR

“There were a lot of Murakami things, a lot of Louis Vuitton things. I bought some art—that was my favorite part, buying the art.”
Anonymous freelance reporter

“It was incredible. They did the museum right; it was very colorful. Even though it was spacious, your eyes were always on the colors. The show was amazing. I’ve seen Kanye a million times, and he’s always amazing—he’s a real M.C., and he brought that to a Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs event.”
Datwon Thomas, editor in chief, King Magazine

How was Kanye West’s performance?
 “The guy’s first-rate. On a scale of one to 10, I give him a nine and a half as an entertainer.”
Anonymous financial marketer

Any good gifts?
“They should have done the auction earlier. We didn’t get to win anything, and we didn’t even get a gift.”
Anonymous museum patron

“These placemats are fabulous. I’m going to put this on my wall! The appetizers by Nobu were good, too.”
Anonymous husband of museum trustee

How was the food?
“Overall, I thought it was really good. The decor was fabulous. I didn’t like that the cocktails were cut short, and the dinner ran a little long, but I enjoyed the tuna tartare, which was fabulous, and the wasabi and mashed potatoes. The protestors blocked our way a little bit, but our taxi went around them. I understand where they’re coming from, but we believe in what [Ratner’s] doing.”
Alison Murray, fashion design student, Parsons School of Design

“The food was just O.K. It wasn’t particularly interesting, except the tuna tartare was very good, and the wine was delicious, so the crowd was buzzing and people were having a really great time.”
Cathryn Darow, member of the museum's trustee board

“There were a lot of drinks, but I wish we could have seen the auction better. They had the bigwigs in the front, so it was hard to see the auction in the back—but hey, these placemats are great! Everyone wants one, that’s why I have three.”
Sandra Gibbs, marketing manager, the Brooklyn Brewery

More photos of the gala are on Flickr.

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