Life Imitates Art as Robert De Niro Gets Honored at New York Academy of Art’s 2012 Tribeca Ball

Robert DeNiro

He’s played everything from a menacing mobster to an affable “Focker” in “Meet the Parents,” and at the New York Academy of Art’s 2012 Tribeca Ball on April 16th, famed actor Robert De Niro was honored for his impressive acting career.

De Niro arrived late enough to avoid the press, accompanied by his wife, Grace Hightower.

Academy of Art celebrity supporters attending the event included Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Carla Gugino and Rachel Hovnanian. Students displayed their work in makeshift stalls on multiple floors, with live performers (one played a ukulele near a xylophone) and models wearing bright colored unitards and Venetian masks.

The event was held on five floors and included an eclectic mix of uptown and downtown personalities, art stars and foodies. The much-anticipated celebration of the city’s most talented emerging artists included champagne, cocktails, live entertainment and a fabulous dinner.

Attendees were hot for the art: literally! The non-air-conditioned building was sweltering due to an unseasonably humid day in Manhattan. Padma Lakshmi was overheard remarking, “It is very, very hot, right? I know heat rises, but this is something else!”

Other revelers included “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Marguiles and husband Keith Lieberthal, Richard Phillips, Allison Sarofim, Jeff Koons and Damien Loeb.

Surreal artist Will Cotton, celebrated for his images of indulgence and fantasy, was enthralled by a large-scale oil painting of severed pig heads. “A little different than my subjects, though some of the colors aren’t far off.”

Paz de la Huerta said it best: “Well, I just think art is really sexy…painting was my first passion. That and interior design….I’m a filmmaker. And I know how to edit..So I guess that’s like painting. And painting is sexy.”

Painting isn’t the only sexy craft, as anyone who has watched a De Niro film already knows. Still ruggedly handsome at age 68, the Tribeca Ball commemorated not only De Niro’s accomplishments, but his enduring success as a true artist.

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