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Legends 2013: A Pratt Institute Scholarship Benefit - Wednesday, 11/13/2013 12:53 AM

Perched high above Columbus Circle, Pratt’s most celebrated decorated the halls of the prestigious Mandarin Orient Hotel, mixing with titans of art, design and film for the 2013 Legends Ball: A Pratt Institute Scholarship Benefit Honoring Icons of Art and Design, together raising nearly a million dollars, vastly surpassing the benefit’s goal of $750K.

Dressed in tony fall fashions, the evening’s guests and benefactors began with cocktails and conversation, overlooking an autumnal Central Park in the Mandarian’s sleek Sky Lobby, as stars and honorees Martha Stewart, James Turrell, Margaret Russell, Pete Hamill, David Rockwell, David Easton, Bob Giraldi, Ted Allen, writers Kurt Andersen, Barbaralee Diamondstein-Spielvogal, fashion designers Carmen Marc Valvo and Jeffery Banks, interior decorator Mario Buatta, singer Judy Collins, and actresses Margo Bingham and Christine Seidel turned out to grace the red carpet.

Ushered up for the festivities into the Mandarin Ballroom, everyone found their seats among candle-lit tables, creating an intimate air to the otherwise majestic room. Processions quickly began with the evening’s emcee Ted Allen (host of the Food Network’s Chopped) taking to a stage backdropped by a breathtaking Manhattan Skyline, warming up the already spirited crowd. Pratt’s Bruce J. Gitlin (Chair, Board of Trustees) was then welcomed up to make a surprise announcement: all the evening’s proceeds were being used to create the Thomas F and Tess Schutte Endowment Fund Scholarship in honor of Pratt’s venerable President, Thomas F. Schutt, and his wife’s tireless dedication to Pratt. An emotional Mr. and Mrs. Schutt came on stage, along with many of Pratt’s board members and students, to say a few humble words.

The first presenter, legendary home and garden goddess, Martha Stewart, introduced the first honoree, one of the world’s top interior designers and Pratt alum, David Easton, recounting a funny story from their first meeting, “He asked me my three favorite houses, and I told him, and he told me, to my surprise, that me he designed all three!” Award-winning writer, Pete Hamill, was the next to be honored – presented by his good friend, film and television director, Bob Giraldi – offering sage advice and encouragement to all the young students in attendance. Film and stage impresario, David Rockwell presented the beautiful Margaret Russell, Architectural Digest Editor-in-Chief, as the next honoree, who recounted with relish her early days at Pratt. The final honoree of the evening, internationally acclaimed artist, James Turrell, was proudly presented by Guggenheim Museum Stephen and Nan Swid Curator of Twentyish Century Art, Carmen Gimenez. Mr. Turrell spoke in a jocular mood, opening with, “No, I did not go to Pratt… but my wife did,” bringing the room into roaring laughter, before heralding Pratt for its growth into one of the world’s most renowned art and design institutions.

The night concluded with everyone milling about and Patrick bringing the room together, turning strangers into friends and playing matchmaker, proudly introducing Pete Hamill, whom Patrick respects as, “the true example of an Irish gentleman,” to Margaret Russell, all while snapping the many smiling faces in attendance.

-Written by Matthew Leeb