Lady Gaga’s Lupus Bag Ladies Donation Raises $1,100

One of Many Handbags Sold for the Lupus Cause at Elegant ‘New York Bag Ladies’ S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Luncheon

Our 2nd annual “New York Bag Ladies Luncheon and Celebrity Handbag Auction” drew a crowd of 250 women to the elegant 583 Park Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on May 4th to bid on designer, celebrity, vintage, and other handbags, and to mark 40 years of the organization’s fight against the chronic autoimmune disease, systemic lupus.

The luncheon was hosted by the feisty Jill Zarin of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York, whose daughter also has an autoimmune illness, and headlined by Tony winner Joanna Gleason’s crowd-pleasing performance of “I Hate My Purse!” from the hit Off Broadway show Love, Loss, and What I Wore by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron.

Joanna Gleason and Jill Zarin

Prolific author, commentator, and luncheon benefit chairwoman Kate Kelly spoke movingly of her daughter’s fight against lupus, and all that the Foundation has done for people with the disease in New York City and the nation. She expressed hope for the cause as advances in educating medical students about lupus and nearing FDA drug approval on a possible lupus drug draw near: “We’re on the brink of change with this disease!” she said.

“The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation has been here for New Yorkers with lupus for 40 years,” said Foundation Executive Director Margaret G. Dowd in greeting the crowd of New York supporters and lupus advocates. A highlight of May‘s Lupus Awareness Month activities in New York City, the luncheon raises funds and awareness to combat a disease that is under-publicized yet widespread, and potentially life-threatening.

Zoe Saldana's Judith Leiber clutch and Lady Gaga's Mulberry tote

The bustling “silent” auction drew from handbag collections of luxury brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Valentino, Judith Leiber, and Prada, as well as from the private closets of some of entertainment’s biggest stars, including Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Zoe Saldana, Keri Hilson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julianna Margolis, and Diane Lane.

“I have a strategy!” whispered a bidder in Jimmy Choo pumps, ready to pounce and add her name to multiple auction sheets seconds before the auction closed.

Joanna Gleason performing a scene from Love, Loss and What I Wore

Joanna Gleason had the crowd in stitches as she performed “I Hate My Purse!” which hilariously challenges the symbolism of the very item on sale during the benefit’s signature celebrity handbag’s auction. Her lines on coming to such realizations that a woman’s purse, with its “accumulated debris of a lifetime” becomes the item with which “you could flee the Cossacks!” were particularly well-received.

Luncheon chair Kate Kelly

Jill Zarin not only added zest to the luncheon as an MC, but bid on a few handbags (and won!) and signed copies of her new book, Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advise, Real Stories, Real Love, co-authored with her sister, Lisa Wexler, and her mother, Gloria Kamen.

Luncheon committee members Jennie DeScherer and Susan Golick