Over the weekend, something happened to Ivanka Trump that hasn’t occurred since before her father was elected president: Celebrities were willing to be seen with her.
On Friday night, Ms. Trump, an adviser in former President Donald J. Trump’s White House, attended Kim Kardashian’s 43rd birthday party at Funke Restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she was photographed posing with Ms. Kardashian and Lauren Sanchez, the fiancée of Jeff Bezos, in a photo that Ms. Kardashian and Ms. Trump both shared on social media.
Also in the tableau: Lydia Kives, the wife of the former Hollywood agent Michael Kives; and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, who is married to the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. Other attendees included the models Hailey Bieber, Kimora Lee Simmons and various members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan.
“So blessed to have hit the jackpot of friends!” Ms. Kardashian wrote under a carousel of photos she shared on Instagram to her 364 million followers — including the snap with Ms. Trump, in what counted as the biggest public show of support for Ms. Trump from an A-list celebrity in years.
Over the course of two presidential campaigns and four years working in the Trump White House, which concluded with a deadly insurrection at the Capitol, Ms. Trump’s reputation as a New York socialite who was welcome at events such as this was destroyed. In a tweet she later deleted, Ms. Trump described the rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, as “American Patriots,” asking them to stop the violence at the Capitol that day.
In texts released by the Jan. 6 Committee, Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, wrote to another aide of Ms. Trump’s predicament. Using an expletive, Ms. Hicks wondered if Ms. Trump knew how badly she and her family were damaged, personally, by the events of the day.
But the high-profile birthday party in deep-blue California two years later serves as a reminder that the rich and powerful are never fully exiled, never beyond repair — and that for the politically reviled and reputationally ruined, there’s always some path back with enough time, money and influence.
Ms. Kardashian did not respond to a request for comment. Ms. Trump and Ms. Sanchez declined to comment.
Tina Brown, the journalist and author, foresaw the re-entry years ago. “There is a myth around that Jared and Ivanka will be rejected socially,” she told Town & Country Magazine ahead of President Biden’s inauguration. “The rich are never rejected — until they go to prison or lose their money.”
It’s been a long, cold season for Ms. Trump, who since leaving the White House has found herself in a no man’s land between her father’s MAGA world and the circle of Manhattan socialites she used to associate with.
In seeking to distance herself from Mr. Trump, she issued a statement in November 2022, explaining she would not be a part of his 2024 campaign.
Ms. Trump never returned to New York after her father left the White House. Instead, she started a new life with her family in Florida, where she lives in a gated community in Indian Creek Village, near Miami, known as “billionaire bunker.”
In Miami, Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are regulars at Carbone — a branch of the New York restaurant — where they are friends with one of the owners, Jeff Zalaznick, and treated like royalty. She has been spotted out at Art Basel in Miami and was seen chatting with Prince William at the wedding of Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein in Amman. Mostly, Ms. Trump now generally minds her own business and people close to her think it is time she is allowed to move on her with her new life.
Still, it’s not the level of clout Ms. Trump chased for years. She has not yet been invited back to the kind of A-list events she used to be a staple: the Met Gala, the Vanity Fair party at the Tribeca Film Festival, the front rows at New York Fashion Week.
Ms. Kardashian’s birthday party may not be at that level; it was described by an attendee as a dinner with just a few dozen guests. But Ms. Trump was seated next to Ms. Kardashian and was welcomed by the crowd, an attendee said.
The public embrace from Ms. Kardashian comes at a fraught moment for the Trump family. Ms. Trump has been subpoenaed as a witness and is fighting to avoid testifying in a New York civil fraud case against her father, her brothers and the Trump Organization.
Paparazzi outside the party yelled after her, with one photographer asking if she was “afraid to testify” at the trial. She ignored the question.
Ms. Kardashian first connected with Ms. Trump during the Trump administration on the issue of criminal justice reform. When Ms. Kardashian stumbled upon the case of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence in an Alabama prison for a nonviolent drug offense, Ms. Trump was her first call in the White House. (Mr. Trump went on to commute Ms. Johnson’s sentence and later featured her story in a Super Bowl campaign ad designed to appeal to Black voters.)
Other longtime society chroniclers were decidedly unimpressed with both the caliber of the invitee and the hostess. Graydon Carter, the former editor of Vanity Fair, said he was put off by the pairing of Ms. Trump and Ms. Kardashian, comparing it to the meeting of two deposed dictators. “I doubt if the Ceausescus ever met the Duvaliers, but I imagine it would have been a bit like what you’re describing here,” he said in an email.
For some of Ms. Kardashian’s followers, Ms. Trump was seen as out of place and unwanted at the otherwise uncontroversial gathering.
One wrote, “Not Ivanka!” and implored Ms. Kardashian to “use your power for good.”