Leno, Music, Auction Highlight 19th annual ‘Lady in Red’ Gala

Suzi Goldsmith, Jay Leno, Lois Pope

Suzi Goldsmith, Jay Leno and Lois Pope

PALM BEACH, FL – It began with a stirring piano concerto, and ended with dancing. But before it was all over, guests at the “Lady in Red” gala were treated to a five-star auction and a show by comedian and auctioneer-for-the-night Jay Leno who, when he finished joking and cajoling bidders, bade adieu to the crowd atop a roaring BMW motorcycle.

Such was the atmosphere at the Mar-a-Lago Club, where more than 500 guests attended LIFE’s 19th annual “Lady in Red” gala, which raised funds for the organization’s partnership with the American Humane Association.

Cameron Neth, Ari Rifkin, Eric Zvejnieks

Cameron Neth, Ari Rifkin and Eric Zvejnieks

The evening began poolside under the stars with Lola Astanova, the Russian-American concert piano virtuoso, who performed the stirring and popular 3rd movement of the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto. She was joined by the Palm Beach Symphony conducted by Daniel Alfred Wachs.

Next, as guests entered the Grand Ballroom, they were serenaded by the 90-member Nova Choir singing Broadway Hits. Then Leno, the longtime host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” took the stage, followed by the dance band, Sultans of Swing.

Tiffany & Co. donated a gift for each couple, as well as his and hers watches that were offered in the live auction. Joel Hart won the 18kt white gold lady’s Tonneau-shaped cocktail watch with round and baguette-shaped diamonds totaling 2.48ct., and Rick Rifkin took home the large stainless steel men’s Tiffany Grand watch.

Courtnay Montgomery was high bidder for the 2012 BMW S1000RR motorcycle in racing red and alpine white, signed by Jay Leno and donated by Braman Motorcars. Donald Trump won the Macy’s VIP 2013 Thanksgiving trip to New York City for four.

Donald Trump, Lola Astanova, Patrick Park

Donald Trump, Lola Astanova and Patrick Park

In a surprise gesture, Leno offered VIP ticket packages to the “Tonight Show” to as many guests as were interested and were willing to donate $500 to LIFE. He also announced his $10,000 donation to LIFE’s partnership with AHA.

As the live auction ended, Leno hopped on the BMW motorcycle and rode it off the dance floor, making way for the dancing to resume.

Lois Pope and Suzi Goldsmith chaired the gala. Honorees Extraordinaire were Mary Ann and Walt Schwenk; Grand International Chairwoman was Hermé de Wyman Miro; LIFE’s Hero Grand Patrons were Patrick M. Park, and Elizabeth and Jeffrey E. Bateman (in loving memory); Honorary Chairmen were Ari Rifkin, Veronica Atkins, Maude Emerson Cook and Mary Virginia and Henry Fong; LIFE’S Hero Ambassadors were Toni Holt Kramer and Robert Kramer, Terry Ebert Mendozza and Joseph Mendozza; Co-Chairs were Sally and Dick Robinson; and Junior Chairmen were Maria Pope Kessel and Kerry R. Kessel, and Gail Worth.

Click photos to enlarge.

Proceeds from the evening will go to LIFE’s partnership with AHA, which includes a program to protect abused and neglected children and animals. Programs that will be served are in Palm Beach County and include a large pet mobile for adoptions and rescue service during times of emergency.

Sponsors of the Dec. 1, 2012, gala included Tiffany & Co., Wells Fargo Advisors, and Braman Motorcars.

For more information, call LIFE at (561) 865-0955 or visit www.life-edu.org.

Photos by Lucien Capehart Photography.

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