Treasures of ‘Genghis Khan’ Captivate a Western Audience

A glow of red and golden lighting transformed the entrance of the Natural History Museum into a magnificent Chinese temple for 800 attending the Dinosaur Ball and premiere of the “Genghis Khan Treasures From Inner Mongolia” exhibition on Saturday evening.

Gongs and drums chased away evil spirits and, to bestow good luck, lion dancers pranced with ferocity on the museum steps overlooking Exposition Park’s Rose Gardens.

Inside, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Li Daoyu and his wife, Yi Zhoalie, joined museum director Craig Black and his wife, Elizabeth, and Zhao Zhihong, deputy governor of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and ball chairs William and Toni Bird in the long receiving phalanx. (Li Daoyu and J. Stapleton Roy, American ambassador to China, were honorary co-chairs.)

Closet treasures emerged in the black-tie/international dress of party-goers. Inner Mongolia’s Deputy Director of Cultural Relics, Wang DaFang, set the tone in his elegant silk ceremonial attire worn with a cockily perched black hat.


Museum devotees scorned well-sprayed hairdos to don audio crowns for the tour of treasures, tipping the crowns to greet friends. Ultimately, all converged in the three halls for dinner, where decorations chair Lynn Brengle used swords atop circles of Mongolian-inspired grass as centerpieces.

The Chinese consul general in Los Angeles Wang Xue Xian and his wife, Zhang Feng Qun, referred to the exhibit as “but one flower in the garden of flowers of China.”

The exhibit, curated by Adam Kessler, is considered a milestone in cultural exchange, inasmuch as many of the relics have never been seen elsewhere in the world, even in China. Catherine Krell, who spent three weeks in Inner Mongolia coordinating arrangements, noted the many special touches of the evening--such as the programs starting from the last page in Chinese custom. Tributes were paid to China authority Sammy Lee and to the evening’s honorary chairs, Caroline Ahmanson and David Lee.

Prominent in the crowd were Gareth Chang, Nelson Rising, Ethelda Singer, Richard J. Stegemeier, Sylvia Wu, Matthew K. Fong, Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Antonovich, all attending as members of the Council of Honor. A ball committee including Betty Reddin and Joan Wrede bustled to make sure they were introduced.

There was ample time for conversation over Chinese shrimp salad, chicken with shiitake heads and Chinese cabbage, and rice pudding with Chinese plums.

Then guests picked up their hand-painted eggs, Yves St. Laurent’s Opium eau de toilette and Canton ginger liqueurs to huddle under the too-few umbrellas as valets rushed valiantly for cars.


Plaudits: The Los Angeles World Affairs Council’s Diplomat of the Year Award went to ambassador of Germany to the United States Immo Stabreit at the Four Seasons Hotel Monday evening.


At the black-tie affair for members of the council’s International Circle, the diplomat accepted the etched crystal world map from council chairman Richard J. Stegemeier and president J. Curtis Mack II.

Then the Princeton/Harvard-educated ambassador said Germany and the United States speak “virtually with one voice” on numerous issues, including democracy and the global system of open trade.

This was Stabreit’s first visit to the West Coast. He was accompanied by his wife, Barbara. Los Angeles’ new German Consul General, Hans Alard Von Rohr, and his wife, Catharina, were guests. Joining the head table were Marion and Earle Jorgensen and Eli Broad, new World Affairs Council chair, and his wife, Edye.

More attending were the new chairman of Litton Industries Alton Brann and his wife, Anny; former Vatican ambassador William Wilson with his wife, Betty; Jean Smith; Norman and Erlenne Sprague; Tamotsu and Noriko Yamaguchi, and Tom Jones.



A Million: The thrills surrounding the October opening of the Center for the Performing Arts at the Civic Arts Plaza (located at the intersection of U.S. 101 Ventura Freeway and the Route 23 Thousand Oaks Freeway) got a big boost on a gloriously sunny day last week at Lake Sherwood Country Club.

A surprise $1-million gift from the Los Angeles Times/Times Mirror Foundation was announced by Jeffrey S. Klein, Los Angeles Times president, San Fernando Valley and Ventura editions. Klein presented a first-installment $100,000 check to Chuck Cohen, chairman of the Alliance Campaign. The $1 million is the largest single donation to the Civic Arts Plaza Endowment Fund to date and brings pledges to $3.5 million. This will likely lead to a new goal of $10 million, according to Stephen D. Woodworth, chairman of the Alliance for the Arts.

The $63.8-million center will provide world-class facilities for entertainment and culture. It will consist of an 1,800-seat auditorium and a 400-seat forum theater, and is designed to serve the more than two million people living in the area from the Valley to Santa Barbara.


Thousand Oaks Mayor Elois Zeanah and Tom Mitze, Performing Arts Center executive director, announced the entry plaza will be named The Times Plaza.

Founders Circle chairman Larry Janss paid tribute to members of the Founders Circle (gifts of $50,000) lunching at the event hosted by Gordon Binder of Amgen. Prominent were Ann Janss, Bill Janss, Deborah Duclon, Mary Ann and Bill Bang, Fred Raio (president of First State Bank of the Oaks), Vicky and Raymond Poliakin and Kirsten Lundring. Also in the crowd were Marshall and Gretchen Milligan and Luther Luedtke, president of California Lutheran University.


Past Perfect: A dinner at Chasen’s Mariana and Frank Rothman hosted honoring newlyweds Fiorenza (Courtright) and Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Malcolm Lucas, married in October . . . .


At the American Youth Symphony concert Sunday, conductor Mehli Mehta, suffering from pneumonia, conducted the orchestra while seated and 19-year-old Russian violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov starred in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Later, AYS co-presidents Mitzi Eisenberg, Betty Roach and Claire Sacks, and Norma Brecher, chairman of the board, staged a post-concert dinner upstairs at the Music Center . . . .

Champagne toasts celebrating the victory of Stuka in the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap were proposed to owner Allen Paulson of Beverly Hills by Clifford C. Goodrich, Santa Anita president. Then Paulson’s wife, Madeleine, revealed it was her birthday and she wouldn’t mind the horse for a gift.

Mary Lou Loper’s column is published Thursdays.