Pictured above: Sultan of Brunei, the owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel
Dear Mr. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum:
I am writing to you today with great admiration and respect for the Metropolitan Museum and what it represents. For nearly 150 years, the Met has stood for diversity and creativity in thought and expression.
That legacy, however, is now dangerously at risk, and I feel compelled to reach out and express my concerns. I was recently alerted to the fact that the Met is scheduled to hold an event “An Evening with Met Director Thomas P. Campbell in Beverly Hills” for your West Coast donors at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 6, 2016.
As someone whose family patronized, until very recently, the Beverly Hills Hotel for almost 70 years, I completely understand and appreciate the desire to hold an event at the hotel. It is, after all, an iconic establishment in Hollywood history, which makes the situation over the last couple of years all the more heartbreaking.
In April 2014 it was announced that the Sultan of Brunei, the owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel (as well as its umbrella organization, the Dorchester Collection) was implementing sharia law in his country. Under this law it is now legal in Brunei to be stoned to death for being gay or lesbian, and for women to be flogged in public for adultery, among many other horrifying things.
Many have argued that these laws are meaningless until they are actually put into action. But other countries that have implemented sharia law, such as Iran, Sudan and Nigeria, have in fact stoned gay people, and have flogged women. It will one day happen in Brunei. In the meantime a culture of hostility, oppression and violence has been created in the nation.
I urge you, in light of these disturbing facts, to honor the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and CANCEL your upcoming event on April 6th. There are many other comparable hotels throughout Los Angeles, such as the London, Chateau Marmont, Sunset Tower, Andaz West Hollywood, The Montage, Beverly Wilshire, Four Seasons and the Peninsula—none of which are owned by an anti-gay, anti-women dictator. I am sure that some of these properties would be able to accommodate your reception.
To hold an event at the boycotted Beverly Hills Hotel would be in complete contradiction of everything the Met has always stood for, and that would be a tragic mistake, especially since it is so unnecessary. I hope you will stand with Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Jay Leno, Stephen Fry, Richard Branson, Valentino Garavani, and the many other prominent individuals who have come out in support of boycotting all Dorchester Collection establishments until these laws are fully repealed or until the Sultan agrees to sell the hotels.
I look forward to hearing your immediate response. I trust that you will make the right decision in support of the men and women of Brunei who need our help.
James Duke Mason
*The Met cancelled their event at the Beverly Hills Hotel shortly after this article was published.