Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Anna Wintour’s Swanky Met Ball Loses $3 Million Catering to All Those Celebrities


EXCLUSIVE The first Monday in May is here. And with it comes Anna Wintour’s annual bat mitzvah, the Met Ball. Thrown as a party for the Costume Institute, which is now named for the Vogue editor, the Met Ball is as assemblage of high (Oscar winners) and very low culture (Kardashians) all selected by Wintour herself.

A new documentary shows the gritty underside, in which Wintour handpicks the guests and mocks them at the same time. (The film, “First Monday in May,” grossed just under $300,000 since its release on April 15th. Not exactly a must-see.)

But what is the cost of this thing? I just looked back at the last three tax filings for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it’s pretty interesting.

The Ball brings in a steady amount of donations to the Museum every year– around $11 million. After the museum contribution is deducted from the tickets, the Ball made $119,500 in 2013 (that’s the last public record– there’s nothing posted so far for last year or the year before).
metball 2013
But wait just a minute: the Met Ball in 2013 had direct expenses of $3.2 million. That’s the actual cost of putting this extravaganza on. (Unknown is what costs are hidden. In the clip below, one of Wintour’s aides talks about “how expensive” it is to host Rihanna, for example.) Gross receipt were $11.9 million.

Suddenly the Ball itself is a red carpet made of red ink.

Indeed, the costs have gone up a lot in the last few years while those Museum donations have remained constant. On the 2012 report, for example, direct expenses were $2.45 million. Gross receipts were $11.7 million.
metball 2011
For 2013, the Museum had seven fundraisers altogether. The total direct expenses were just over $4 million. Almost all of it was attributed to the Met Ball.

Of course, the Met Ball brings a lot of publicity to the Museum, which isn’t bad. And that steady stream of $11 million in contributions is handy since the Museum itself was down by $16 million from 2012 in 2013 in overall public support. Anna’s numbers aren’t going up, but it’s not clear that she cares. I’ve heard of people offering top dollar for tables only to be rejected because Wintour doesn’t approve of them.
public support
So Monday night we’ll be treated to lots of famous women dressed as peacocks, with a huge emphasis on the kind of low life that probably makes Wintour’s Vogue predecessors like Diana Vreeland, Leo Lerman, and Alexander Liberman twirl in their graves. (I knew the latter two and cannot imagine describing some of those people to them.)

With so much attention focused locally here in New York on this event, you’d think this was the only event on Monday night. But I’ll be at Steven Tyler’s charity show at Lincoln Center– much more fun!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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