Kanye West was persona non grata out east this weekend, where the Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction went on without the “Gold Digger” rapper.
West was expected to perform at last year’s benefit in the Hamptons, but that plan fell through at the last minute. Organizers at the time announced that West and the center’s founder Robert Wilson had chosen to “postpone their collaboration” until 2017. But when this year’s event came around, West was no longer wanted, we’re told.
“Last year, one of the things that Kanye wanted was a special fence to protect him,” says a source with knowledge of the situation. In addition to being an eyesore, we’re told that wrapping a fence around the 81/2-acre estate where the event was being hosted would have been insanely expensive for the organization, which raises money for art education.
“That was the most ridiculous and expensive thing in his rider,” we’re told.
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Our source says that last year’s change in plans was a bit confusing, but this time around, West was simply not welcomed.
“He was saying that last year it was a conflict because of his fashion line or whatever, but the truth is, this year, they didn’t want him and they didn’t need him,” according to our insider. “It was Kanye who wanted the credibility in the art world. But the long list of demands was so difficult and no one wanted him — and they certainly didn’t want his wife.”
West is married to a downmarket reality TV actress who frequently drags her mom, sisters and a camera crew to events. Robert Downey Jr. was perhaps the biggest star at this year’s gala, where artist Laurie Anderson was honored by performers who played songs by her husband, Lou Reed, who died in Southampton in 2013 at 71.
Past events have seen performance by Lady Gaga, Dita von Teese and Marianne Faithfull.
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Artist Jenny Holzer unveiled a giant wall at this year’s event, which Wilson introduced.
“I want everyone to know we built a wall before Trump did,” he joked to an art world crowd that included gallerist Isabelle Bscher, collector Kenny Ackerman, painter Robert Cenedella and attorneys Arthur Aidala and Marianne Bertuna.
Watermill reps did not respond to a request for comment.
With Brian Niemietz