New York, New York

Dancing at the 7th Annual Fall Gala Dinner for New Yorkers For Children.

Last Thursday night Geoffrey Bradfield, the international interior designer gave a birthday party for himself at a mansion on East 67th Street between Madison and Fifth.

Geoffrey, who has his own ample townhouse a few blocks down the road had looked at the house for some clients and happened to mention to the real estate broker (Leighton Candler) that it would be the perfect house for a birthday celebration he was planning. “It’s yours,” said Ms. Candler.

The house, a forty-eight foot wide mansion was built in 1920 for a financier, very prominent in his day, named Jeremiah Milbank. It was actually two houses – one built in 1879 and the other in 1905 when Mr. Milbank bought them and had them remodeled into a 20,000 square-foot, 26-room house with a 4000 square-foot master suite, a grand ballroom, an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and terraced gardens. The library is Georgian knotty pine paneling circa 1770.

More recently the house was owned by Bob Guccione the founder of Penthouse Magazine. Mr. Guccione lost ownership when a business deal that he mortgaged the house for (an Atlantic City casino) went sour. He originally put the house on the market for $37 million. Its price has been raised to $45 million.

Guests were invited to the Bradfield soiree for 9 pm although they were just beginning to arrive around 9:45. New Yorkers need to be fashionably late. Arriving at a party is the only time they don’t want to be FIRST. It was also another terrible traffic day/night in Manhattan thanks to the United Nations meetings that had brought many of the world’s leaders to town, including President Bush.

The invitation called for men in black tie and “women in ball gowns.” Geoffrey knows how to set the tone. Footmen in 18th century black and green velvet and gold-embroidered coats, wearing white wigs lined the Carrera marble staircase as the guests entered to ascend to the ballroom on the second floor. The swimming pool is on the first floor just off the entrance gallery and is quite visible through arches lining one wall of the gallery. It’s a very large, New York townhouse or not.

As the guests reached the landing just before the second floor, a footman (for-the-night) asked each his or her name and then called it out: “Mister David Patrick Columb-EE-AHHH!” Okay. And at the top of the stair the host/birthday boy was waiting, in white tie and tails, looking as self-effacingly modest as Fred Astaire, to shake one’s hand or buss one’s cheek, depending (nowadays you can never be sure).

Someone told me that Geoffrey was very worried beforehand that no one would show up. That may be an anxiety party givers always have. He needn’t have worried; no one was going to miss this one. And it was a mob scene. There must have been three or four hundred who made their way up those gilded and marbled steps to the den of the Bradfield equity. There was only one bar, which meant there was a second mob scene over there. Alex Donner and his orchestra were playing Cole Porter tunes non-stop in one of the rooms off the ballroom.

The first hour was spent by all either re-filling their glasses of champagne or cocktails and/or watching the guests arrive. Much of the second hour was spent the same way -- because the guests kept pouring in (or rather: “arriving” – I mean you don’t “pour in” in black tie and ball gowns, do you?). The late George Trescher always said a great party happens the first three minutes you’re in the room. This was one of those parties. From the get-go it was already great because there is probably nothing better than standing around drinking champagne and people watching: who’re we gonna see next?

Geoffrey’s guestlist was extended and expansive and designed to surprise and astonish, invited from just about every walk of his gilded and very prosperous life. So that there were the boldfaced names, the people you see around but have never met, the people you’ve never seen before, all ages from Way Up There to practically just post-pubescent (I’m exaggerating for effect). And we were all mashed in (in only the nicest way of course) so that you were confronted with just about anybody and everybody making it very easy for people to talk to each other (and meet each other). Those are always the best parties.

The birthday boy

About eleven o’clock the liveried footmen were serving at the buffet and the famished ones were taking their seats at table (no placement on this night) while so many others were going back to the bar for another glass of the bubbly. People had begun to hit the dance floor. The indefatigable crooner, Mr. Donner, was rolling out another Porter tune. JH was there with his Digital. I was there with mine. Patrick McMullan was there and so were some of his cadre of Digitalists, as was Cutty McGill who was shooting for the host and the very chic Mary Hilliard who was shooting for Vogue.

By midnight or thereabouts, guests were still streaming in. By that time the revelers were beginning to bond in their spectator sports (“Who’s that?!”“Get a load of her!” “Wow, did you see them?!”) More champagne please. Another vodka on the rocks. More music, all atmosphere.

Around two, two-thirty ayem, they were setting up for the breakfast menu although by 3 o’clock in the morning, the crowd had begun to thin out, heading back to their lairs high above the canyons of Manhattan, done in, sated, satisfied and ready to lay their little heads down for some sleepytime. The boy from South Africa who came to the Big Town quite some time ago to make his fortune, had ushered in his 7th decade (the 7th decade begins at age six-oh) with a big bang and a good time to be had by all. It’ll be awhile before he one-ups himself after this one.

Richard Kaplan and Edwina Sandys

Charlie Scheips and Leslie Stevens
Patricia Burnham

Chris Heath and Lisa Selby

Nathalie Leeds Leventhal
Nohra Haime and Ann Nitze
Felicia Taylor x 3 with Richard Turley and Frederick Anderson and Douglas Hannant.
Jeffrey Gelfand, Sue Chalom, and friend
Tom Cashin and Jay Johnson

Gina de Franco

Heather Cohane
Ward Williams and Rob Stanford

Montgomery Frazier, Anait Bian, and Randle Doss

Heather Cohane, Bobby Gianos, Amy Hoadley, and Roy Kean

Tiffany Dubin

Richard Turley, June Haynes, and Rossano Rubicondi

Mary McFadden and Najwa Sarkis Stone

Geoffrey Bradfield with Melissa and Chappy Morris

Sabrina and Carl Forsythe with Laura Codman

James Francis Trezzaand Rosita Shay

Roy Kean and Waleed Khairzada

Debbie Bancroft

Marilyn White, Lars Bolander, Parker Ladd, Liza Pulitzer, and Mario Nievera

Geoffrey Thomas and Sharon Sondes

Arnold Scaasi

Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Somers Farkas
Len Morgan with and Alex Hitz

Sandra McConnell and Chris Obetz

Stephanie Krieger and Brian Stewart
Roger Webster

Marilyn and Larry Friedland

Robert Rufino
Ijaz Malik and Margo Langenberg
Iris Apfel with Catherine Saxton, a blackamoore, and Steven Stolman

Olivia Palermo, Peter Davis, and Bettina Zilkha

CJ Satterwhite
Suzanne von Liebig and Geoffrey Bradfield

Leslie Stevens and DPC

DPC and Monique van Vooren
Jamie Niven

Denise DeLuca and friend

Geoffrey-filled cookies
Gillian Miniter

Bettina Zilkha, Michael and Tara Rockefeller, Jill and Andrew Roosevelt, Rachel Hovnanian, and Mark Gilbertson

Eric Javits and Martha Glass

They held the 7th Annual Fall Gala Dinner for New Yorkers For Children (NYFC), last Thursday night at Cipriani 42nd Street and entertained the largest crowd of supporters that has ever been gathered for this cause. Chaired by Oscar de la Renta, Hugh and Deborra-Lee Jackman, and Stephen and Christine Schwarzman; co-chairs were Sarah Jessica Parker and Kevin Huvane. LeAnn Rimes performed. Commissioners Nicholas Scoppetta and John B. Mattingly were Honorary Chairs. The Gala raises funds will support New York City’s children in foster care.

What started out ten years ago as a small but valiant effort to effect change in the lives of young people who’d already been confronted with struggle and rejection has become something of a star turn, backed by a glamorous roster of commercial supporters and drawing not only many of the boldfaced social names in New York but also many stars who actually showed up and sat down to dinner. That is highly unusual in New York.

That star of ABC News and good-morning-America television Diane Sawyer presented The New Yorkers For Children Spirit Award, a $10,000 scholarship, to an exceptional college student in foster care – Sha’Rhone Frost. Sawyer spearheaded the ABC News investigation of foster care across the country, “A Call to Action: Saving our Children,” and anchored the prime time hour on the subject called “Calling All Angels.”

Reverend Alfonso Wyatt, Vice President of the Fund for the City of New York, received the Nicholas Scoppetta Award for Service to Children. In past years, the award has been given to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Russell Simmons, Geoffrey Canada, Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund and Oscar de la Renta, Board Member of NYFC.

Diane Sawyer and Sha'Rhone Frost

Alfonso Wyatt

LeAnn Rimes

Vice-Chairs for the evening included Debbie Bancroft, Jon Blum, Donya Archer Bommer, Susan L. Burden, Lauren Davis, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Susan Korb, Lauren Shortt Pinto, Alexandra Lind Rose, Andrew Saffir, Tim Schifter, Susan Shin, Orna Shulman, Kelly Behun Sugarman, Valesca Guerrand-Hermès, Richard E. Frick, Emily Lin, Renee Rockefeller, and Vanessa Weiner von Bismarck.

2006 Fall Gala supporters include Nokia, Vogue, Federated Department Stores, Harry Winston, Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Gucci, Valentino, Marchesa, David Yurman, Chloe, Wachovia Securities and Kiehl’s Since 1851. Past participants of the Annual Gala include Anna Wintour, Julianne Moore, Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Gwyneth Paltrow, Melissa Etheridge, Placido Domingo, and Lisa Marie Presley. Past corporate sponsors include Cartier, Carolina Herrera, InStyle, Kate Spade, Donna Karan, Roberto Cavalli, Luca Luca, Movado, NBC, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.

Guests at the Gala included Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, Liv Tyler and Royston Langdon,Isabella Rossellini, Diane Kruger, Helena Christensen, Damon Dash and Rachel Roy, Doutzen, Hana Soukupova and Amy Sacco. In addition, Lauren Davis, Alexandra Lind Rose, Andrew Saffir, Kelly Behun Sugarman, Richard E. Frick, Renee Rockefeller, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Muffie Potter Aston, Olivia Chantecaille, Tinsley Mortimer, Claire Bernard, Lucy Sykes and Jennifer Creel,

Last year, the Gala raised $1.4 million, thanks to the commitment of dedicated New Yorkers, making it possible for NYFC to support programs to improve the lives of the 17,000 children in foster care in New York City.

* * * * * * *

New Yorkers For Children, founded in 1996, creates special programs, funding, research and training projects that have changed the lives of many of the children in foster care in New York City. Due to our unique access to these children and families, our private funds reach young people through mentoring, college support, employment initiatives, and cultural enrichment programs.

Line 'em up ...

Alexandra Kotur and Lauren Dupont

Christine Schwarzman, Marty Bregman, and Muffie Potter Aston

Liv Tyler and Harvey Weinstein

L. to r.: Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Carlos Souza, Julia Koch, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Fabiola Beracasa, and Olivia Eslami; John and Eleanor Ylvisaker.

Alana De La Garza

Byrdie Bell
Carlos Souza and Euan Rellie

Allison Aston, Sybil Yurman, and Amy McFarland

Julie and Billy Macklowe

Rachel Roy and ALex Lind Rose

Beth Rudin DeWoody

Susan Magazine

Jenny Kennedy

Jay and Kelly Sugarman

Patricia Duff

Renee Rockefeller

Jeanne Lawrence

Liv Tyler and Georgina Chapman

Daniel Benedict and Andrew Saffir

Marina Killery and Isabella Killery Reese

Alexis Bryan

Margherita Missoni

Arden Wohl

B. Michael

L. to r.: Susan and Nicholas Scoppetta, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Burden, and Christine and Stephen Schwarzman; Rory and Elie Tahari.

Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts with David and Sybil Yurman

Annelise Peterson and Alex Kramer


Photographs by ©Patrick McMullan (NYers for Children); Jeff Hirsch & DPC/NYSD.com (Bradfield).



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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com