The 21st Annual Angel Ball at Cipriani Wall Street

Peter Cervinka and Denise Rich
All photos Lieba Nesis

The Angel Ball held its annual gala at Cipriani Wall Street on Monday, October 28, 2019, with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. This evening which was sold-out a week in advance, with tickets starting at $1,750, gathered over 800 attendees from the worlds of philanthropy, business, entertainment, and the arts.

Dee and Tommy Hilfiger

This was the 21st anniversary of this star-studded event where hundreds of Denise Rich’s closest friends flew in from all over the world to fight the scourge of cancer. Denise lost her 27-year-old daughter Gabrielle 23 years ago to leukemia and started the organization to foster research that finds less toxic treatments for those living with leukemia, lymphoma, and related cancers. On average, 92 cents of every dollar raised at the gala go toward cancer funding.

Jean Shafiroff

Whereas, prior years contained dozens of Victoria’s Secret models this year was a more streamlined crowd attracting those who help support pivotal causes. Jean Shafiroff led the brigade of philanthropists in a one-of-a-kind pink Victor dE Souza couture gown with black gloves that dazzled the crowd.

Ivana Trump

Other major real estate and business participants included Michael u, Jonathan Chetrit, and Morris Moinian-these three families own half the buildings in New York City. Celebrities Heidi Klum, Patti LaBelle, Tommy Hilfiger, Jonathan Cheban (otherwise known as Food God), Ivana Trump, and Clive Davis, who are regulars at this happening, once again graced the crowd adding that extra wow factor to the evening.

Nicky Hilton

The only thing I can say about the married Klum is she is beautiful and in love. She and her husband Tom Kaulitz were hugging and kissing throughout the evening-the kind of passion one rarely sees anywhere, anytime. Klum and the 30-year-old rocker secretly wed in February and had a formal ceremony and celebration in Italy six months later.

Hunt Slonem, Liliana Cavendish, Geoffrey Bradfield and Sharon Bush

Another luminary who will soon be getting married, Sharon Bush, told me she is waiting until the end of November so that famed pastor Joel Osteen can officiate her intimate ceremony. Much of the crowd came to support honorees and moguls Marc Leder and Amy and Brian France along with Gala Chairs Camilla Olsson, Michelle Rella, Ofira Sandberg, and Lorraine Schwartz.

Kate Frank and Honoree Marc Leder

The cocktail party, which took place both in the lobby and on the second floor, provided me with the opportunity to speak with the CEO of Sun Capital Partners Marc Leder. Leder is indeed a “Leader” heading a firm that has acquired more than 365 companies since its inception in 1995, with more than $13 billion in capital investments. Leder remarked the key to his success was a high level of “efficiency, energy, and organization.”


His family of four were there to support him. Leder gave a brief speech utilizing numbers where he revealed his ex-wife of 22 years was at the dinner, he put himself through college as a blackjack card counter and his four kids were his pride and joy.

Patti Labelle

He lauded the success of cancer research, which has increased the 5-year survival rate of leukemia patients from 33% to 62% with prostate cancer survival numbers surging from 62% to 100%. On a more sobering note, he recounted that more than 600,000 people will die this year from cancer, and more than 1.7 million will be diagnosed.

Coco Rocha

Hearing from 14-year-old cancer survivor, Emily Whitehead, was similarly enlightening as she recounted being seven years in remission due to a successful clinical trial after having been given a 1 in 1,000 chance of surviving her leukemia diagnosis.

Louise and Steven Korneld, Liz Brewer, Catherine Gray and Adam Weis

As the dinner began, Rich’s daughter reiterated the startling cancer statistics. She joked to the surprise of many that while she loves Netflix and television, having sex with her husband is one of her least favorite activities.

Boy George

She lauded her mother for raising more than $30 million to date, with over 300 researchers seeking to discover alternative therapies and treatments. After candles were lit in honor of cancer patients, a live auction was held which contained a trip to Africa and other goodies.

Jonathan Chetrit

In prior years this portion has been overly drawn out, leading to attention deficit among the exuberant crowd. This year Denise got it right with a brief 7 to 8-minute auction where a one-of-a-kind Judith Lieber bag grabbed $20,000, and a Lorraine Schwartz “evil eye” bracelet received $30,000. These items, unfortunately, received less than their estimated value.

Lucia Hwong Gordon and Pamela Morgan

The entertainment portion of the evening is always a highlight, and tonight they hit it out of the park with three scintillating performances. Patti LaBelle, who is 75 years old and still has the pipes and energy of someone half her age, sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with a zeal that left the audience floored.

Lieba Nesis and Heidi Klum

LaBelle is unstoppable recently, giving an interview where she declared she has not given up on love and still wants to get married. LaBelle is out there doing her thing, and she is a woman in control asking me to show her the picture I snapped so she could choose her favorite. Another dynamo, Boy George, sang his greatest hits, “I “ll Tumble 4 Ya” and “Karma Chameleon” to an enthusiastic audience. For a 58-year-old who has been through rehab, he was surprisingly proficient.

Nikki Haskell and Jonathan Cheban

The finale was absolute perfection with Flo Rida bringing down the house with electricity that prompted dozens of women to head to the stage to dance and sing their hearts out. With sweat dripping out of each and every pore, he sang, danced, and jumped with a contagious intensity.

Seren Shvo, Marc Bell and Michael Shvo

At 11 PM, DJ Ruckus began spinning tunes with an announcement made that club 1 Oak would be holding the after-party. As guests were forced to leave at 11:30 PM, I bumped into UK etiquette expert Liz Brewer who flew in from London for the evening and is an expert on all things royal-having worked with nearly the entire royal family.

As to Meghan Markle, she said she was acting more like a Hollywood actress than a member of “The Firm” as she refused to toe the line as royals are forced to do. She noted in the olden days Markle and Harry might have been exiled due to their failure to recognize they were a cog in the money-making machine known as the royal family.

She called Prince Harry, whom she has met numerous times, “sex on legs” and said that love had blinded him-an an affliction that has clearly stricken Klum, who was standing nearby, embracing her sexy husband.

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Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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