Most of the guests were too old for lunch boxes at Del Posto last night. The Lunchbox Fund, a charity founded by model Topaz Page-Green to feed impoverished children in her home country of South Africa, was hosting its annual fundraiser, and in an appropriate tweak for the age range of the film, music, and art greats who gathered at the restaurant, the organization put limited-edition books on the auction block rather than its usual lunch pails this year.
“I’ve been wanting to cook more,” said Anouck Lepère as she browsed the Jim Dine and Mario Batali cookbook that was up for grabs for $1,200. The model has been devoting time to NGO work herself. “You travel so much, see so much, and after a while, it all feels the same,” she said. “I’ve just hit the age where it’s time to give back.”
Books, in this case, was a loosely interpreted term. Along with the cookbook, there was a Bob Gruen and Yoko Ono compilation of photos that John Demsey admired. Others were captivated by a handwritten page wrapped around an oversize wooden spool by Sting. But the real head-turner was a large-format Polaroid triptych of Page-Green by Chuck Close. “I actually begged him to shoot someone else, but he couldn’t be convinced,” the South African beauty said. “Sitting for the shot was a really intense experience. The camera is this huge box. I was so nervous.”
The artist was nearby in a vibrant head-to-toe African print and was happy with the results. “When you have good material, it’s easy,” he said. During the live auction led by Lydia Fenet, the Close piece went for the night’s highest price: a cool $110,000.