I recently had the extraordinary good fortune of attending The Blue Ribbon Evening at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Moderated by vintage car collector and philanthropist Bruce Meyer, with a star-studded panel from the world of art, cars, music, and spirits, it was an evening of superlatives.
The panelists each operate at the peak of their industry. They are passionate about collecting and are active philanthropists. The charismatic Andrea Fiuczynski is Executive Vice President and Chairman of Americas for Sotheby’s. That puts her at the helm of art collecting, where she is continually cultivating new audiences for both classic and contemporary artworks. David Gooding, founder and president of Gooding & Co. and the foremost auctioneer in the world, talked about collecting cars. Christian Navarro, the owner of our beloved Wally’s Wine & Spirits, is a wine collector.
Jerry Kohl, founder and president of Leegin Creative/Brighton Collectibles, talked about his dream of buying a Stradivarius violin. Rarely in circulation–there are only 600 in the world–the instruments were made in the 17th and 18th centuries and are known for their exceptional tone. Two instruments were demonstrated for the Blue Ribbon audience–only one a Strad–and the difference was remarkable, even to the moderately-trained ear. Kohl did find his dream violin, and then turned around and donated it to the L.A. Philharmonic. You can read the full story in The Violinist.
The panelists were inspiring; the automobiles were dazzling. A visit to the Petersen Museum is always an incredible experience because you have a chance to view cars as works of art. After its year-long, $125 million renovation, the Petersen is bigger, shinier, and more visually engaging than ever, with huge video exhibits that complement the cars on display.
Luxury vehicles, of course, were the centerpiece of “The Art of Bugatti” exhibit. But it also included exceptional furniture, design objects, paintings, and sculpture by members of the Bugatti family. Of the cars, the midnight blue 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Cabriolet was my favorite. It was a gift of the French government to the Shah of Iran on the occasion of his marriage and is now part of the Petersen collection. If you won’t make it to the Petersen before The Art of Bugatti closes in October 2017, you can “tour” the exhibit on Petrolicious.
1939 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Cabriolet
I snapped a photo of a low, sleek, silver sports car that I thought was a Lamborghini. Imagine my surprise when I read the description and discovered it was a concept car: a 1973 Chevrolet Aerovette!
1973 Chevrolet Aerovette
I also fell in love with the 1953 Ghia Cadillac Series 62 Coupe, a gift from Prince Aly Khan, then considered the world’s richest man, to the actress Rita Hayworth. It’s one of only two built and it’s just one of the many treasures at the Petersen.
1953 Ghia Cadillac Series 62 Coupe
Finally, hidden in the Petersen vault, there’s the 1953 Bosley GT Mark I–“The Bosley.” When I asked the docent about the car, he told me that it was built by Richard Bosley, who owned a couple of sports cars, but could not afford a Ferrari. So he simply bought some welding equipment and designed and built his own car, using bits and pieces of other vehicles. I later found out that Bosley was 21 at the time, a horticulturalist with no training in auto mechanics or design. Talk about determination and imagination. I’d like to meet Mr. Bosley…and I encourage you to visit the Petersen Automotive Museum, whether or not you consider yourself a car buff. It’s a treat–and it’s a wonderful place to take visitors.
1953 Boslet GT Mark I