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Tom Ford, Armie Hammer and Zoe Saldana attend the Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden

Tom Ford, Armie Hammer and Zoe Saldana attend the Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden
Author Margaret Atwood, from left, Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin, and actor Armie Hammer attend the Hammer Museum's 16th Annual Gala in the Garden at the Hammer Museum on Sunday in Los Angeles. (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

Sunday’s Hammer Museum Gala in the Garden didn’t just sell out. It also drew attendees from far and wide. More than a few guests traveled to Los Angeles for the occasion: actor Joel McHale flew in from Boston; artist Judy Chicago came from New Mexico; and director John Waters left New York to attend.

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“This is my favorite event of the year,” McHale said. “I could be on the East Coast right now doing stand-up [and] making money, but I really do like this event. My wife is very involved with the Hammer, and whenever one spouse drags the other to something, you say, ‘I’ll do this because I love my wife’ or ‘I love my husband.’ But I genuinely look forward to this event.”

Armie Hammer echoed the sentiment. “I say every year that this is my favorite event, but it really, truly is, and it’s especially good to be here on a year like this with everything that’s going on in this political climate and in the social sphere.”


The event

Glenn Ligon, left, and Bryan Stevenson at the Hammer Museum's 16th annual Gala in the Garden at the Hammer Museum on Sunday.
Glenn Ligon, left, and Bryan Stevenson at the Hammer Museum's 16th annual Gala in the Garden at the Hammer Museum on Sunday. (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

The Westwood museum’s gala, presented in partnership with South Coast Plaza, honored Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and conceptual artist Glenn Ligon, whose work explores race, language and cultural identity.

Raising a record-breaking $2.6 million, the 16th annual affair culminated in a soulful four-song set by Grammy Award-nominated recording artist Leon Bridges, who sang “Lisa Sawyer,” “Bad Bad News,” “Beyond” and “River.”

Leon Bridges performs during the Hammer Museum gala.
Leon Bridges performs during the Hammer Museum gala. (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

The scene

Leon Bridges, left, and Tom Ford at the Hammer Museum gala.
Leon Bridges, left, and Tom Ford at the Hammer Museum gala. (Donato Sardella / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

Guests gathered for cocktails on the museum’s upper balconies and ventured inside to see the museum’s newest exhibitions, “Adrian Piper: Concepts and Intuitions, 1965-2016” and “Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo.” They next adjourned to the courtyard for a dinner of grilled Jidori chicken, prepared by Lucques chef Suzanne Goin.

Darren Star, from left, Ann Philbin, Viveca Paulin Ferrell and Will Ferrell at the Hammer Museum gala on Sunday.
Darren Star, from left, Ann Philbin, Viveca Paulin Ferrell and Will Ferrell at the Hammer Museum gala on Sunday. (Donato Sardella / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

The crowd

Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

Event co-chairs Elizabeth Segerstrom, co-managing partner of South Coast Plaza, and “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star joined artists Lari Pittman, Barbara Kruger, Charles Gaines, Catherine Opie, Thomas Houseago and Muna El Fituri; fashion designer and director Tom Ford; photographer David LaChapelle; TV producer Marcy Carsey; philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick; McHale and Sarah Williams; Hammer and Elizabeth Chambers; Viveca Paulin Ferrell and Will Ferrell; Zoe Saldana and artist Marco Perego, among others.

Viveca Paulin Ferrell and Will Ferrell.
Viveca Paulin Ferrell and Will Ferrell. (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

The program

Margaret Atwood onstage at the Hammer Museum's Gala in the Garden.
Margaret Atwood onstage at the Hammer Museum's Gala in the Garden. (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

Following museum Director Ann Philbin’s welcome, social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson introduced Ligon, calling him one of his heroes. Ligon then ascended the stage to speak about issues of justice and the importance of truth.

Pulitzer prize-winning author Michael Chabon next spoke of Atwood, saying he hoped that someday people might be “having a good laugh” when her grim predictions don’t come true.

Michael Chabon onstage at the Hammer Museum gala.
Michael Chabon onstage at the Hammer Museum gala. (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

Atwood described today’s perilous times at length, but then said, “That’s enough ominous preaching from me.” She closed on a hopeful note. “We are not living in a totalitarian dictatorship now — or yet, and my guess is that this country will not easily roll over for a while. The programs of a museum, such as this one, are a reminder that we need not go down a divisive path of suspicion and hatred. We can instead identify as fellow human beings and try to understand and face our common human problems together.”

The numbers

Armie Hammer and Elizabeth Chambers at the Hammer Museum gala.
Armie Hammer and Elizabeth Chambers at the Hammer Museum gala. (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Hammer Museum)

The 550 guests bought tickets beginning at $2,500 and tables selling for up to $100,000. Proceeds from the gala are earmarked for the museum’s free exhibitions and public programs.

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