MAD Ball 2023: An Artful Affair

Dinner venue – Photos by Marilyn Kirschner & Laurel Marcus

It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD Ball – Museum of Arts and Design that is. The annual gala held at the Mandarin Oriental on Monday night showcased some of the city’s most creative and artistic types – both through their talents as well as their attire.

Live Music

As nice as the museum setting is, having the event at the hotel made it a bit more festive — what with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking a panoramic view of Columbus Circle including Central Park and even the exterior of the museum itself. A two piece musical combo also added to the cocktail hour ambience.

Alexander Hankin & Polina Proshkina

Guests – a combination of museum supporters and visionary artists mixed, mingled, reunited and generally enjoyed the night at the peak of New York’s social season. Even though the event bills itself as a “ball” it is more a gala where people generally wear cocktail attire rather than gowns.


At every event in the city these days you will see everything from long dresses to the ever popular traditional black cocktail dress, to businesslike attire or even more relaxed looks (although thankfully no gym-type attire was visible) The added plus here is that the art theme and in fact, the artists who attend, invite a more colorful and exotic approach particularly with jewelry and accessories.

Jewelry making demonstration

Speaking of jewelry, upon arrival we were directed to observe two tables set up for jewelry making in the bar area. It resembled summer camp arts and crafts time with an interesting array of colorful mixed media to choose from if you were feeling creatively inclined – and hadn’t had too much to drink.

‘Women in Black”

Unlike in previous years the art auction benefitting the museum was strictly online through Artsy. I can’t even imagine the nightmare of having to transport and set up the work of 50 contemporary artists and designers however in the past it was interesting to peruse these works onsite. All proceeds go to support the museum and its educational programs.

Sculptor Jesse Wine

There were four honorees during the dinner program: Michael Bruno, founder of online resale luxury goods 1st Dibs (which always makes for interesting browsing, if not actual shopping lol); Laura and MAD Board Chairman Emeritus Lewis Kruger; and Gaetano Pesce, architect, artist and designer. Justin Vivian Bond served as Emcee and Filmmaker Chiara Clemente produced and premiered short films about each of the honorees.

Beau McCall and Souleo

Guests included Alexander Hankin, Barbara Tober, Bryna Pomp, Elissa Auther, Erik Bottcher, Lynn Yaeger, Julia Haart, Jesse Wine, Kalifa, Luam Melake, Lutfi Janania, Machine Dazzle, Marcus Teo, Marsy Mittlemann, Meredith Marks, Nina Tiari, Paul Arnold, Polina Proshkina, Sai de Silva, Tim Rodgers, Timo Weiland, and more.

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Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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