Denise Rich, Aoki Lee Simmons – Photos by Lieba Nesis
The Angel Ball celebrated its 25th year on Monday, October 23, with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM at Cipriani 55 Wall Street. Renowned for its top-notch entertainment and A-list attendees, the sold-out $ 1,750-per-ticket evening did not disappoint. The 800-person crowd included Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, G-Eazy, Michael Bolton, Tommy Hilfiger, Clive Davis, Tina Knowles, Jean Shafiroff, and Aoki Lee Simmons.
One would expect nothing less when hospitality guru Richie Akiva is an honoree who has reigned over the New York nightlife scene for 30 years, building an extensive network of the who’s who in fashion, music, and entertainment. Akiva said he was having trouble celebrating after the tragic situation in Israel, and his somber demeanor reflected the pain of every gathering I have attended.
Marc Leder, Kate Frank, & Gabrielle Battaglini
Akiva is the “it” boy of New York whose monumental influence on pop culture takes place as a behind-the-scenes power player across every facet of the entertainment industry. He operates the Ned Nomad club and hotel under the Membership Collective Group umbrella along with Executive Chairman Ron Burkle. Akiva’s strong ties to the Jewish community weighed heavily on him as he humbly accepted his “Angel of Light” award as honorary co-chairs Marc Leder, Warren Lichtenstein, and Amy and Brian France enthusiastically applauded.
Eric Adams and Lizzie Asher
New York Mayor Eric Adams has similarly shown remarkable solidarity with Israel as he lamented the pervasive evil dominating society and urged the crowd to take back control of college campuses with the necessity for zeroing in on social media, which has become a meeting ground for radicalized individuals.
Elizabeth Elting, Jean Shafiroff, Francine Lefrak, & Andrea Catsimatidis
There has been no other politician as supportive of Israel as Adams lamented the murders of Jews Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964 after marching with James Chaney to advocate for the civil rights of the many Jews, Adams noted, to join the Black community in its fight for equality.
Mendy Katz & Carol Caprio
Adams called on Blacks and Jews to revisit their connection and attributed his own deep passion for the beloved people of Israel to their powerful history. Adams’s close ties to the ultra-Orthodox community are well known. He has visited Israel three times, the last trip being in August 2023, when he met Prime Minister Netanyahu and revealed his desire to live out his golden years in the Golan Heights.
Dr. Charlie and Anna Pierce with Dr. Norman & Mia Rowe
Some other Israel-loving luminaries in the crowd included plastic surgeon to the stars Dr. Norman Rowe, his beautiful wife Mia, and their equally smashing daughter Ella. Rowe, who trained as a plastic surgeon at New York University Medical Center and the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Institute, runs practices throughout New York, the Hamptons, and New Jersey with experienced plastic surgeons specializing in the face, breast, and body. He also pioneered aesthetics for men, opening “The Club House” in April 2018-the exclusive men’s facility where plastic surgery and non-invasive services are conducted in a discrete, under-the-radar setting.
Camilla Olsson, Lorraine Schwartz, & Ofira Sandberg
The Rowe family donates generously to cancer research to aid accomplished doctors such as Dr. Stephen Nimer, who pioneered cancer research development through Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation. The foundation, founded 27 years ago by philanthropist Denise Rich, has had a far-reaching impact, awarding more than $41 million in research grants to the best and brightest scientists globally. Denise lost her daughter Gabrielle Rich in 1996 from advanced stage Hodgkin’s disease at the tender age of 27 and has steadfastly fulfilled her daughter’s final wish of creating a leukemia foundation.
Ella & Mia Rowe
The evening, which was hosted by Emmy Award-Winning TV host Tamron Hall, also honored some major female power players, including Elizabeth Elting, who founded TransPerfect, the world’s largest translation services provider, and Monique Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Mielle Organics, a multi-million dollar natural hair care brand. Some other female heroes featured included Amy Shields, whose son Sully was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma at age 5 in 2014 and tragically died in September 2023 at age 14 after Amy advocated for him for nearly a decade.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as she described her arduous struggle while heralding medical advances that allowed her to enjoy her son an extra decade after he admonished her to “kick some ass” in the fight against cancer – a mission to which her life is devoted.
Michele & Zach Feig, Ella Rowe
After a dinner of ribeye and some signature Cipriani vanilla crème meringue cake, a live auction was held where Lorraine Schwartz earrings were bought for $36,000 and $25,000 allowed one lucky bidder to access the entirety of the American Dream Mall from 9PM to 1AM.
The finale of the evening is always the most sublime, and the inimitable Robin Thicke sang “Blurred Lines” while Mary J. Blige wowed with “Just Fine.” By 11 PM, most guests headed to the Ned Nomad for an after party while Jermaine Dupri spun some tunes for those hesitant to bid adieu to a perfect fall extravaganza.
Just be grateful for the black thong…
PATHETIC, and embracing this hideous cry for attention as Best-Dressed is Beyond PATHETIC!!!
Excellent critique. Marilyn. Kudos! Great pics I’d love to see a slide show of just the outfits The show is…
Creative Self-Expression is fascinating!
This might go up twice, but Marilyn, you hit a chord. Thank you as always for your end-of-year summation, inspiration…
Great article! I enjoyed every sentence–so true, unfortunate as it may be. I even learned some new jargon. Hopefully, it…