Maccioni; Christopher Mason.
Maccioni. One of the three sons of restaurateur
(Le Cirque) Sirio Maccioni and his wife Egidiana. Mauro,
Mario and Marco first came into prominence
professionally as the co-proprietors/managers of Osteria del Circo
(120 West 55 Street between 6th and 7th Avenues) which they still
preside over today (while their mother vets and at times presides
over the kitchen). Although they don’t look like identical
triplets (and they’re only a few years apart) and don’t
seem to resemble either mother or father at first sight, they definitely
look like brothers. Tall, slender, with a continental refined manner,
they are warm and gracious hosts.
Petrie, Marco Maccioni, and Jamee Gregory
The ready smile and the sparkle in the eye might lead one to believe that Marco,
or his brethren, are always ready for a good time. But the evidence is somewhat
different. The restaurant business is a demanding mistress and wife and family,
a tight-knit family, and they are always on the job. Marco lives less than a
block away from the restaurant. Nowadays, the Maccioni business has spread across
the continent (to Mexico and to Las Vegas) and the brothers are at times elsewhere,
watching over the family interests.
Mason. A Lotta Talent Comes a Long Long Way. Christopher
Mason arrived on these shores in 1983 at just about this
time of the year, fresh from graduating Cambridge in England. He
wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, knowing only that New York
was where he wanted to be.
Serendipity as his guide, he happened to meet George Trescher who
was at that time (and possibly for all time) the greatest fundraiser/ partyplanner/public
relations man of the city, and George gave him a job helping on the organizing
parties and events he was doing for, among others, three important friends – Jackie,
Brooke, and Liz. That is: Onassis, Astor and Smith.
Trescher was a taskmaster and detail was one of his strong points (as well as bete-noires).
Christopher recalls working with him and Brooke Astor seating a dinner she was
giving for Nobel Prizewinners when George, looking over her arrangements, exploded: “You
can’t sit her next to him, he’s sleeping with her husband!” “Oh
dear, oh dear, you’re right,” Mrs. A. responded.
Seating arrangements and the giving out of placecards can seem rather menial
to some but for Christopher Mason fresh to America, giving out the placecards
to the guests of the Hyannisport wedding of Arnold and Maria (Schwarzenegger and Shriver),
or Caroline and Ed (Kennedy and Schlossberg),
or organizing the Andy Warhol Memorial Service luncheon at the
(then) new Paramount Hotel — heady stuff for the new boy in town.
After a few short years with George Trescher, where he learned
the lay of the land (as well as who was doing the laying), George Trescher fired
him. He told Christopher it was for his own good. “You’re too talented
to be doing this,” George concluded aloud, “you should be writing.” Those
of us who knew George, who passed away last year, would understand: he was tough
but also tough-love personified – and he deeply respected talent.
Christopher, as it happened, was also one of those lucky fellows who is handy
on the piano, with a penchant for making up songs and lyrics in his fashion of
his idols: Tom Lehrer, Cole Porter and Noel Coward.
George Trescher could relate to this for he was one of those guys who loved the
musical theatre (indeed, his friend Peter Rogers used to complain
that the only problem going to the Encore Series at City Center with George was
that he sang all the songs along with the performers – and loudly).
In 1987, Annette Reed (later Annette de la Renta)
gave a dinner for Brooke Astor at The New York Public Library (one of Mrs. Astor’s
top philanthropic priorities), and at George’s suggestion, hired Christopher
to write and perform a song about the local real estate moguls tearing down buildings.
Christopher was a big hit. The following morning he received a phone call from
Jackie Onassis exclaiming her famously soft breathless voice: “I loved
your song last night,” and she asked him to do one for an event she was
chairing. Soon after, Mario Buatta, staging a major party “10
Treasure Dinner” at the Library invited him to write something for that
That night at the Library, they hooked up the sound system so that the 1200 who
were attending the after party could hear his song about New York personas. Christopher
had dipped his big toe into the champagne that is New York: Ivana Trump called
the next day. She and her then husband Donald had just acquired
the Kashoggi yacht and renamed it the Trump Princess.
‘I want you to sing on my yacht,” she told Christopher — for
a ladies luncheon she was giving. It was a hit — “He’s so wicked,” she
trilled in her heavy Czech accent, “I pay him so much money to insult me.”
Insults can be good for business. The next day Ivana called to hire him for another
entertainment she was planning. Soon he was the toast of New York, written about
in the Times, in Vogue, in WWD, in New York magazine,
and then he was getting calls from cities all over America, all to perform his
witty ditties for the rich and the powerful.
In the mid-1990s a friend at the New York Times called to pick
his brain about a piece she was considering for the paper. After a few minutes
conversation it occurred to her that Christopher was the ideal person to write
it. A new career was born on the spot, unbeknownst to both editor and writer.
Then on the last Friday in January 2000, Christopher was just finishing
up the research he’d been doing for a New York magazine article
on Sotheby’s multi-million dollar internet auction site (which later flopped)
when Christie’s announced it had turned over documents to the Justice Department
on an alleged price-fixing case they were investigating involving both auction
this was a much bigger story, he went back to square one with his
research. On the first of May, 2000, the story came out. Later that
day at a party at Diane von Furstenberg’s
Christopher ran into his friend Dominick Dunne who
pronounced the work “fantastic” and advised him to follow
the case to its conclusion.
book was conceived, and four years later, almost to the day, The
Art of the Steal; Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie’s Auction
House Scandal by Christopher Mason was published by Putnam (with
a blurb on the cover quoting Dominick Dunne: “I was mesmerized
from beginning to end”).
the boy from Cambridge had come to learn, from all
he’d come to meet, to seat, to organize, to entertain, to report
on in New York, has come together in this trenchant chronicle about
the greed, venality, high life, luxury, hubris and corruption borne
out of that era of New York (and London and Paris) in the last fifteen
years of the 20th Century.
It’s a riveting read, an unraveling of the complexities of personality
and motivations that articulate (and at times personify) the high road Christopher
Mason’s been traveling on since he first arrived in New York twenty-one
summers ago. No punches pulled – he was able to conduct intensely informative
interviews with all of the principals as well as their satellites and handlers – delivering
to the reader The Goods. In full.
Aston, Muffie Potter
DeWoody, Beth Rudin
Duchin, Peter and Brooke
THE FULL LIST