From the roaring tiger and glowing red lanterns that greeted guests to the poignant candle-lighting ceremony for former first lady Barbara Bush, the 2019 Tiger Ball was an all-out stunner. The lavish gala, celebrating Asia Society’s 40th anniversary in Houston, paid homage to the memory of founding member Barbara Bush, who was crucial to the beloved organization’s early growth.
The event also recognized honorees Phoebe and Bobby Tudor and was chaired by co-chairs Michelle and Hector Herrera and Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, as well as honorary chairs The Honorable Hushang and Shahla Ansary, Maria and Neil Bush, and Molly and Jim Crownover.
The proceeds topped $1.4 million, breaking preview Tiger Ball fundraising records, as well as exceeding this year’s goal by more than $100,000.
As the 670 guests arrived, they proceeded along the red carpet into the Asia Society Texas Center facility, which was thematically decorated and is itself an award-winning work of art (designed by famed architect Yoshio Taniguchi).
Dancers from Huaxing Arts Group and Samskriti lit the way with Asian lanterns to the lavishly decorated Chevron Gala Pavilion covering 1,700 square feet of the Asia Society parking lot. A 10-foot-tall archway flanked by enormous candelabra greeted guests, and inside, the pavilion was adorned with a 60-foot video wall, ambient projections of wishing lanterns, a water piece decorated with a traditional leogryph (the Asia Society emblem), 8-foot-tall custom-built cast-iron wishing lanterns suspended from the ceiling, as well as lighting festooning the 13 live oak and Shumard red oak trees that are part of the property.
A sumptuous Pan-Asian dinner, including curried apple and cauliflower soup with poached shrimp and miso soy glazed Chilean sea bass, was served in the pavilion (overseen by a remarkable 130 City Kitchen staff members), followed by a brief program utilizing a ceremonial candle-lighting to honor the memory of Barbara Bush. After dinner, guests returned to the ASTC building for dessert and dancing.
The highlights of big board auction included the opportunity to throw the first pitch at an Astros game; a week’s stay in the Tudor family’s 10-bedroom Nantucket home with ocean views, infinity pool, and spa bathrooms; luxury accommodations in NYC, with exclusive tours at the Big Apple’s most famous museums; two sets of first-class United airfare to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, India, or the Middle East; dinner for 10 with Rice University President David W. Leebron and first lady Y. Ping Sun in their 1920’s mansion; designer handbags by Versace, Valentino, and Alexander McQueen; artwork by Japanese painter/woodworker Ayomi Yoshida; jewelry by Tiffany & Co., Chopard, David Yurman, Mariquita Masterson, and a necklace boasting 73 pearls honoring the 73-year long marriage of Barbara and George Bush, by Texas designer Becky Hollands. The auction items were valued at almost $195,000.
The décor choice revolved around the symbolic 40th anniversary motif (ruby). The variety of roses included black magic, freedom, big fun, and coral reef, plus Calla lilies, red tulips, hand-dyed willow eucalyptus, and curly willow. A full complement of top-shelf talent created this year’s Tiger Ball, including décor by Prashe, tent by Aztec Events & Rentals, lighting by GTX Production, catering by City Kitchen, and DJing by DJ Senega of Karma DJs.
Special guests included Nancy Allen, Muffet Blake and Bob Murray, Laurie and Milton Boniuk, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Divya and Chris Brown, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Diane and Mike Cannon, Anne and Albert Chao, Monjula and Ravi Chidambaram, Julie and John Cogan, Anne and Charles Duncan, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Diane Lokey Farb, Lily and Charles Foster, Rachel and Bud Frazier, Jo and Jim Furr, Kathy and Glen Gondo, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Marie and Vijay Goradia, David Harvey, Vicki and Bob Harvey, Maynard and Kathleen Holt, Nancy and Erik Littlejohn, Sultana and Moez Mangalji, Duyen and Marc Nguyen, Hong and Dorion Ogle, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Alison and Chris Porter, Sylvia and Gordon Quan, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Starlee Sykes and Al Vickers, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mary and Roger Wallace, Brenda and Marc Watts, Margaret Alkek Williams, and Lynn Wyatt — plus members of the diplomatic corps from Australia, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and TECO.