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NOV 5, 2015

Moving and Shaking: LAMOTH Gala

The mood was not mournful but festive at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust’s (LAMOTH) annual gala dinner Nov. 1, celebrating the legacy of “Woman in Gold,” the story of a Gustav Klimt painting stolen from a Jewish family during the war that earlier this year served as backdrop for a Hollywood film starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. 

From left: Samara Hutman, E. Randol Schoenberg, Stacey Janks Jasper and Richard B. Jones at LAMOTH’s Nov. 1 gala dinner.  Photo courtesy of LAMOTH

The Beverly Wilshire ballroom overflowed with more than 850 museum supporters who contributed more than $1.2 million to LAMOTH. Guests dined on chicken thighs and vegetable stuffing while the museum honored Milken Community Schools educator Stacey Janks Jasper, Merrill Lynch investment adviser Richard B. Jones, and lawyer and LAMOTH president E. Randol Schoenberg. Schoenberg’s eight-year legal battle to return five Klimt paintings, stolen by the Nazis, to their rightful owner, Maria Altmann, provided the narrative for “Woman in Gold.” After recovering and reselling the gold-leaf portrait of Altmann’s aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer to the Neue Galerie in New York for $135 million, Jones served as Altmann’s financial adviser.  

Film director and producer Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”) served as the evening’s emcee and was quick to recount his personal connection to the Holocaust. Levy said his grandfather, Moshe, took him and his other young relatives on a formative trip to Europe, where they visited concentration camps. “I experienced pretty early — and unforgettably — those horrors,” Levy said, “so I understand deeply the mission of this museum.”

Punctuating the evening’s theme were musical performances related to the “Woman in Gold” story, including two opera pieces honoring Altmann’s memory performed by USC student Anthony Moreno and LA Opera soprano So Young Park — first, an excerpt from “Don Giovanni,” which Altmann’s opera-singer husband, Fritz Altmann, sang to her at their Vienna wedding, and another piece by Viennese-Jewish composer Eric Zeisl, who fled Austria for Paris in 1938, arriving in the United States in 1939. 

Looking on from the audience were Holocaust survivors and philanthropists Jona Goldrich and David Wiener; real estate mogul Fred Leeds and philanthropist wife Dina; New York fashionista Peri Arenas,filmmaker husband Nacho and daughter Lola; and retail hardware mogul Eric Smidt and wife Susan. Also in attendance were Arizona-based philanthropists William and Susan Levine (mother of LAMOTH executive director Samara Hutman). 

To read the article in the Jewish Journal, click here.