“The inaugural M+ Gala presented by Tatler will provide our esteemed guests with an unforgettable experience, by bringing the best of Asia’s fine dining, art and performance under one roof,” said Lamunière. And an unforgettable experience it was, sponsored by HSBC, Chopard, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot and Grand Hyatt. The red carpet was rolled out to welcome VIPs including Martin Lau, Purviz Shroff, Derek Tsang, Ronnie C Chan and Nicolas Aguzin for an evening championing art, purpose and glamour.
After viewing the exhibition, guests were treated to an electrifying performance by the City Contemporary Dance Company, which was followed by a culinary adventure curated by Gaggan Anand, who made his name through innovative Indian cuisine at his legendary eponymous restaurant in Bangkok, and the highly acclaimed Augustin Balbi of Andō, who combines his Argentinian roots with his experience and skills honed in Japan. Dishes included kombujime-cured scallops bathed in a cold coconut curry leaf sauce and Gaggan’s famous Lick It Up! dish—which encouraged A-listers to pick up their dinner plates and lick every morsel of food off them (social media gold, some might say). With support from the dining team at the Grand Hyatt, each course was an explosion of flavour and a feast for the senses.
Suhanya Raffel and M+ museum chairman Bernard Chan made touching speeches. The biggest applause of the night came for Donnie Yen, who was the recipient of the Chaplin Award, presented by Chopard. The Chaplin Award goes to an actor or filmmaker whose work embodies Charles Chaplin’s qualities of realism, diversity and courage within their craft. Previous recipients include Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and most recently, Cate Blanchett. On hand to deliver the award was none other than Kiera Chaplin, granddaughter of the legendary actor. “My grandfather’s films were silent and therefore style and movement were extremely important in telling a story. Tonight’s recipient is not only a great actor, but he has some of the best moves seen on screen. Donnie Yen’s career in film embodies Hong Kong’s can-do spirit and the qualities of craftsmanship that Chaplin Award winners share. His mastery of martial arts epitomises his dedication to visual storytelling, which has made him a leading figure in Chinese action cinema,” said Chaplin.
The evening came to a crescendo during the live auction, spearheaded by beloved chairman of Phillips in Asia, Jonathan Crockett. With bellies full of food and copious amounts of wine, paddles were raised to bid for the unique experiences on the auction block. Lots included a two-night stay at the private castle Mauensee, home of Dr Uli Sigg and Rita Sigg, and a private tour of the Herzog & De Meuron Kabinett archive space in Basel; a four-day journey to Yayoi Kusama’s hometown Matsumoto; and a private tour of the HSBC vault, followed by a four-hands Michelin-starred dinner atop the HSBC headquarters in Central. HK$ 17.5 million was raised by the gala, which will go towards M+’s public exhibitions and learning programmes for the coming year and will help showcase Hong Kong as a centre for international cultural exchange.
Kusama, who was overseas at the time of the event, sent a personal note to guests which was shared by Raffel: “I have always cried out to everyone: love forever! My constant and heartfelt prayer is that people of this world will forge a path through and beyond the quagmire of war and terror, hatred and sorrow. I seek to benefit society through the foundation stone that is my wholehearted pursuit of truth in art. Today, too, with every fibre of my being I continue the fight. Today and tomorrow, I want to keep on living. Let us all join together in singing our hearts out, for the cosmos, in praise of humanity!” Her words echoed through the museum and though Kusama wasn’t able to be attend the gala in person, her presence was strongly felt throughout the entire evening.
Glamorous performances by musician Kiri T, jazz pianist Joyce Cheung and DJ Daryll Griggs rounded out the evening, setting the stage for a new Hong Kong, filled with hope and dotted with magic.
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