THERE IS PERHAPS no art world event more elusive than the private dinner. These events can range from intimate after-open- ing artist dinners, to large banquets for collectors, benefactors or trustees, and they can be held anywhere from a gallerist’s or collector’s home, or the spacious galleries of a public museum, to the booked-out big room upstairs of a slightly-above-average Thai restaurant. They are also surprisingly common.
So, what’s so elusive about them? Knowing you’re at the right one. In many instances, a private dinner is an unglamorous event held more out of duty than necessity or desire; pass the salt, have a glass of wine, time to go home. Yet others are fabulous, marked by an air of exclusivity, featuring amazing food, excellent wine and more networking opportunities than you probably thought possible. You’re there because you deserve to be, not because they needed to make up the numbers on a group booking. To know how to attend the right private dinner is linked to knowing what opening to go to, how much money you’re prepared to spend to collect an artist’s work/donate to a museum, or how long you’ll let artists live/work on your property rent free [see Hard Philanthropy]. Sidling up to people and asking, “what’s happening after?” is a ticket to nowheres- ville. Stand slightly aloof from the crowd, and look hungry, but not too hungry. And have your platinum Amex at the ready. You’ll be picking up the bill.