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John Legend Wows Crowd at Moca Gala for Jeff Koons

Variety logo Variety 4/30/2017 Shalini Dore
© Provided by Variety

John Legend’s electric performance capped Saturday evening’s Moca Gala at the Geffen Contemporary in downtown Los Angeles. Guests rushed the stage to have a front row spot, taking videos, swaying, and singing along as Legend and surprise guest Miguel belted out several songs.

Earlier, Pierce Brosnan introduced the evening’s honoree Jeff Koons saying, “Like Picasso, Dali, and Warhol, Jeff Koons unites art and celebrities.” He praised the “visual poetry and unique optimism” of the artist.

Moca director Philippe Vergne also talked about the hope seen in Koons’ creations. “We celebrate your unbreakable smile, which shows your unbreakable optimism, which we need more than anything now.” Koons, he said, “doesn’t need an introduction any more than Lady Gaga needs an introduction. You have been living under a rock if you need an introduction to Jeff Koons. He’s popular without being populist.”

Thanking the donors for their generosity, Vergne added, “We are a place for new artists. A museum of what is to come, rather than what has happened.”

Koons said Los Angeles was vital to him and his work. “Balloon Dog was created in L.A.,” he said. “What is being honored here tonight is L.A. This community has given such a big platform. Younger artists are more and more saying, ‘I am going to L.A.'” He added: “Art is so powerful, it connects other disciplines. My life changed when I realized that. Some things we have no control over, but art gives the opportunities to understand that parameters can be improved.”

The honoree’s Balloon Dog (Orange), Balloon Dog (Yellow), and Balloon Dog (Magenta) were on display as plates and were available for sale at $9,000 per. And during the cocktail party before the dinner the attendees were able to visit the various exhibits including from Carl Andre and Arthur Jafa.

Gala chairs Maurice Marciano and Lilly Tartikoff Karatz hosted Sharon Stone, Sean Penn, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Tilly, David Gersh, Shari Glazer, China Chow, and Eric Eisner among a host of artists and gallery owners.

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