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Italian luxury brand Fendi held a private cocktail party and candle-light dinner at the Getty Center on Sunday to celebrate the museum’s new exhibition of three Caravaggio paintings, on display together in the United States for the first time.

The three pieces “Boy With a Basket of Fruit,” “Saint Jerome” and “David With the Head of Goliath” are on loan from Rome’s Galleria Borghese and represent half its collection of paintings by the 17th-century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

The Getty Center exhibition (which opens to the public today) is the first stop on an international tour to promote the newly created Caravaggio Research Institute at the Galleria Borghese that Fendi (which is also based in Rome) is supporting through a long-term partnership.

“What makes me proud is that normally [when you support]an exhibition, you sponsor it, you have a dinner and then everybody goes on their [way],” Fendi’s Chief Executive Pietro Beccari said. “But this time we wanted to establish a collaboration that goes on for three years and will create this research center for Caravaggio.”

Beccari explained that he lived near the Galleria Borghese and had gotten to know its director, Anna Coliva, after frequently taking his three daughters there to tour its permanent collection. The seeds of the partnership, he said, were planted several years ago when Fendi had stepped up to fund the restoration of the Trevi Fountain.

“During that time I got to know Italy’s minister of culture,” Beccari said, “and the minister said to me once: ‘Why don’t you adopt a museum like you would adopt a child?’ Since I was friends with Anna Coliva, I put one and one together and offered to do that.”

In addition to Beccari, Coliva and Fendi family member Silvia Venturini Fendi (who serves as the creative director for menswear and accessories for the brand), the well-heeled crowd on hand for Sunday night’s preview of the exhibition included shoe designer Louis Leeman and his social-media-star wife Erica Pelosini, actor Balthazar Getty and his fashion designer wife Rosetta Getty, interior design duo Estee Stanley and Brigette Romanek, artist Alex Israel and C Magazine founder Jennifer Smith Hale.

“Caravaggio: Masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese” at the Getty Center through Feb. 28.

adam.tschorn@latimes.com

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.

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