Liz Lefkofsky

Liz Lefkofsky is a natural. The full-time philanthropist is as adept at putting together a casually cool evening ensemble as she is at overseeing record-breaking fundraising campaigns (in 2010, she helped bring in $2.8 million for the Museum of Contemporary Art as the cochair of its annual art auction). The Highland Park native—who has an edgy yet effortless style—hasn’t always been a collector of high fashion or had the influence to raise millions (her husband, Eric Lefkofsky, is Groupon’s chairman and cofounder), but her dedication to Chicago’s civic and humanitarian causes began with childhood, when she stuffed envelopes for her mother’s nonprofit, the American Brain Tumor Association. “It’s not about buying nice things for yourself,” she says of what drives her, “it’s about doing something for somebody else.”

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Photograph: Anna Knott


Lefkofsky's collection of heels
“I’m all about comfort, always. I’m attracted to casual, understated pieces.”

Lefkofsky’s wedge heels and platform sandals are sculptural but won’t break her feet before the end of a fundraising event (the Lefkofsky Family Foundation supports more than 100 charities).



Thank-you cards from students at the Young Women's Leadership Charter School in Chicago

Thank-you cards (right and below) from students at the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago. Each year, the Lefkofskys take seniors shopping for college supplies. “I know that 25 years from now, those girls are going to do something wonderful for somebody else,” she says.



A tote bag and poster for Printers Row Book Fair

Lefkofsky was the director of Printers Row Book Fair in the mid-1990s and later was the director of special projects at Gallery 37, Chicago’s community center for the arts. She commissioned participants to create art for tote bags and posters (above right), among other items, that were sold to raise money for the center.



Limited-edition toys decorated by costume jewelry

The Lefkofskys are serious art collectors, but their tastes don’t tend only toward the rarefied. From a cache of costume jewelry (including the rings pictured at left) to a battalion of limited-edition toys, the couple’s curatorial impulses embrace both high and low culture.

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Photography: Anna Knott


'The Devil Is Beating His Wife' by Mark Bradford
Mark Bradford, The Devil is Beating His Wife, 2003

Lefkofsky was among the backers of an exhibition of Mark Bradford’s multimedia work at the Museum of Contemporary Art (on view at the museum through September 18; information at



A Lanvin shoulder bag tucked into a lineup of designer figurines
“My husband and I are attracted to the same kinds of things, but we continually push each other in new directions.”

A Lanvin shoulder bag tucked into a lineup of designer figurines



Lefkofsky's collection of Balenciaga bags

The Balenciaga bags in Lefkofsky’s collection have casual silhouettes that still flirt with the avant-garde. “[Each one is] a little complicated once you look closely.”



Lefkofsky and her older sister, Stephanie
Lefkofsky (right) with her sister Stephanie

Lefkofsky’s older sister, Stephanie Kramer, was diagnosed in 1972 with a brain tumor, which took her life two years later. In 1973, their mother, Susan Kramer, cofounded the American Brain Tumor Association. Last year, ABTA raised $4.2 million for research, as well as patient education and support. Lefkofsky has been a lifelong volunteer for the organization. “It’s always been what I’ve done,” she says of nonprofit work. “It’s where I’m from.”

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Photography: Anna Knott


The Lanvin gown Lefkofsky wore to Richard M. Daley's farewell dinner

Sometimes a garment is stamped with the memory of a historic moment, such as the Lanvin gown (below) Lefkofsky wore to a farewell dinner for former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley at the Art Institute of Chicago.



A collection of skull-themed accesories
“There’s something about skulls that is dark and curious to me.”

A skull-embellished bag from the women’s wear label Thomas Wylde started Lefkofsky’s collection (which runs the gamut from sinister to practically cheery).



Models wearing Yigal Azrouël and Rick Owens designs
“As a little girl, I was sort of a tomboy. As I got older, I had my own sense of style.”

Lefkofsky favors straightforward designs, such as pieces by Yigal Azrouël (front and back) and Rick Owens (center).

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Photography: Anna Knott; (runway) courtesy of vendors