27, 2001 - New
York society was shocked to learn that Khalil
Rizk had died suddenly in Austria two days ago after a
very brief illness. The forty-six-year-old antiquaire and
porcelain dealer, a partner in The Chinese Porcelain Company
at Park Avenue and 58th Street, was a popular figure on
the New York cultural and philanthropic scene. Son of a
Lebanese father and an Italian mother, Khalil loved the
New York social life unabashedly. He had a passion for
it that evoked (for me anyway) an image of a kind of post-modern
Jamesian character, or a gentleman of Whartonesque stature.
There was a very literary quality to his presence.
was a fairly big man, not handsome but attractive in
his intense yet gentle bearing. You might have mistaken
him for a diplomat or a European banker; very serious.
He'd lost a lot of hair early in life, giving him the
appearance of being older than he was. He seemed somewhat
reserved (to know on a very superficial basis, as I knew
him), yet he was unfailingly gracious and polite on meeting.
But it seemed to me and again, I reiterate, I
was not a friend and did not know him well there
was a certain reticence. Either that or a sharply focused
was a manner one might perceive as "shy." Although
his social career was very dynamic and he had an impact
on many powerful and influential people, belying shyness.
He was a man who liked being at the center of his community which
was worldly and sophisticated. He had a hunger for it.
He reveled in knowing people. Since taking up residence
in New York a number of years ago, he established himself
deftly as a social and cultural persona.
loyalty and devotion to friends was obvious to the observer.
He could always be seen at the opera and the ballet as
well as all the significant cultural openings, often
accompanying Aileen Mehle, the international society
columnist "Suzy." Had he been granted a normal
lifespan, Khalil's influence and affect on New York would
have grown commensurately, for he loved it all. And it
loved him back. Many will miss him.