LACMA's trustees were once known for being uptight Hancock Park types. Under Michael Govan, things have lightened up a bit. Case in point: celebutante Dasha Zhukova (above right), named a trustee last June, a few days past her 28th birthday. Zhukova is identified as a fashion designer, editor of POP magazine, and founder of Moscow's Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture. But that's a small part of the fabulousness that is Dasha Zhukova.
• Zhukova once dated Russian tennis star Marat Safin.
• Her $19.5 million Hollywood Hills mansion was a gift from another boyfriend, Russian zillionaire Roman Abramovich (above left).
• She doesn't live there much.
• Zhukova has homes scattered over the globe, plus 100 acres of land on the moon (also an Abramovich gift).
• Abramovich spent $86 million for a Francis Bacon triptych. Coincidentally, a Bacon retrospective is planned for the Garage Centre.
• In 2007, Abramovich's ex-wife had these words for Zhukova: "He'll dump you too."
• Zhukova started her own fashion label, Kova + T., because "I couldn't find a plain white tee exactly the way I wanted it."
• Dasha's father, Russian zillionaire Alexander Zhukova, was convicted of arms trading in 1991 and served six months in Italian jail — before being cleared of the charges.
For more, check out Zhukova's profile in Interview magazine. Journalist Derek Blasberg confessed that he expected Zhukova to be a "James Bond villain" but instead found her "down to earth." Relatively speaking.
"It was so refreshing to finally hear a girl not denying that she likes a good time [Zhukova told Blasberg]. I cannot listen to another girl say, ‘I’m not a party girl. I just happen to always get photographed falling on the floor with lipstick all over my face and a bottle of champagne sticking out of my bag.’” For the record, Zhukova had champagne during this interview, and moved on to vodka later that evening.
One thing's for sure: Half the media world wants to hate Zhukova for being beautiful, rich, and un-wonkish. "Despite an utter lack of magazine experience," snarked Luxist, "she'll be working in partnership with POP editorial director Ashley Heath, leading some to snipe that she only got the job thanks to her mega-rich boyfriend." The Wall Street Journal dissed Zhukova as "just another oligarch princess frittering away millions in her quest for social standing and substance."
And what about art, given that Zhukova is now helping to shape LACMA's future as well as the Garage Centre's? So far, the Garage's signal achievement is an exhibition of Francois Pinault's Koons- and Hirst-heavy collection. That's exactly the sort of fluffery the art press has pilloried New York's New Museum for doing. That said, the Garage's current offering, "Futurologica: Russian Utopias" is a real, curated show, and its web page looks promising — whoever is behind it.