Yesterday, when the sun came out
Romance in Central Park. Photo: JH.
With the exception of yesterday afternoon when the sun came out, this week has been one of those gray drudge-y days in the city. Cold and looking like it was going to rain any minute. Although it didn’t.

Tuesday night Kim Cattrall, Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper hosted a cocktail preview celebrating the opening of Alberto and Stefania Sabbadini’s extraordinary jewelry exhibition “Fabulous Flowers” at the Ingrao Gallery on 17 East 64th Street from 6 to 8. Exhibition will be on view through Saturday from 11 AM to 6 PM and if you’ve never been over to the gallery – or even if you have – it’s worth the visit.

When I arrived at the gallery about seven there were eight or ten paparazzi waiting outside for someone (to come out or go in). Inside there was a big crowd. I immediately ran into Harriet Weintraub, Virginia Coleman and Peggy Siegal, the very fashionable public relations partners who were handling the event. Mrs. Weintraub once said of their office: If you lined up all of our shoes across the office, you would see all heels." To which Peggy added: "Manolos.” Get the picture?

I got a picture of Ms. Siegal (who as you can see has pretty good legs). Looking very chic, she was wearing what she calls her “Russian black balls,” (fur, around her neck) and exiting to go to one of her screenings. If you didn’t know, she is famous in New York for her screenings and premieres of new films. She’s got a list, and on it are all the darlings of society as well as media wizards and Hollywood rascals. When she makes the call, many come together in one large, plush private screening room or in some small movie theatre in which case there are big bags of fresh popcorn and soft drinks (which is a big big hit with the grandest of the grand and the highest of the mucky-mucks).

Peggy thinks of everything. When the picture is over, guests are then transported to one of the top restaurants in town for a cocktail party and a dinner. Who doesn’t want to be on that list? A movie and a great free meal? Last one I went to was for “The Human Stain” and Sir Anthony H. was there along with lots of other stars of the world called New York.
L. to r.: Peggy Siegal; Tony Ingrao and Keith Locker; Sabbadini fabulous flowers.
Anyway, back to the Ingrao Gallery and the Sabbadinis. The Sabbadinis are very popular jewelry designers in New York. The exhibit was a few steps down on the ground floor. I ran into Judy Ney who told me unsolicited that she thought the Sabbadinis had the most beautiful jewelry in the world. I could tell by the reverence in her tone that her husband, Mr. Ney, Ed to his friends, Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam and former Ambassador to Canada to the rest of us, must know that by now. At least he should.

I tried to get some shots of the Sabbadini diamonds and emeralds and rubies in their display cases, as you can see. Good thing the Sabbadinis don’t have to rely on me to sell their jewels, although the pictures give you an idea of the luxe of their designs of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. After a quick turn through the exhibit, and due for dinner at 7:30 a few blocks up the avenue, I said my goodbyes to my hosts and headed for the front door.

I got out onto the sidewalk just as the cadre of paparazzi were clustered around “a live one.” Who? I had to look through the small crowd to see: that platinum blonde, the sexy Miss Kim Cattrall in a sky blue sparkling clinging strapless dress and a cloud of white fox caressing her bare lily-white shoulders. Visions of Harlow, Monroe, Mansfield, even Madonna. I had to get a shot quick. So I held my camera up to take it, just at which point a woman wearing a fur trimmed brown leather jacket reached over, took Ms. Cattrall’s hand and rushed right in front of the camera.

Ms. Britto's public relations sleeve
“Hey!” I protested, “I’m taking her picture ...!”

The woman, looking down at the steps they were about to take to enter the Ingrao Gallery, snapped, “I don’t care; this isn’t our event” and quickly brushed passed me.

So I didn’t get the picture. The woman’s sleeve, yes. I was annoyed. Stupid and all that, but I was: it was a perfect image to show the NYSD reader – the platinum blonde in the sparkly and white fur.

The woman it turned out was Marvette Britto who, I was told, is Cattrall’s public relations person. The marvelous Marvette was rather well dressed too, as you can see by her sleeve that blocked my view.

Although, What kind of public relations, you may be asking? Certainly not Weintraub, Coleman and Siegal, that much I can assure.
Christopher Mason and friend
Mark Gilbertson and Cynthia Lufkin
Judy Ney and Juanita Sabbadini
Wednesday, the very rainy night before last, I went downtown to a dinner given by Ann Jones for her old friends Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas. There were eighteen or twenty in the crowd including Harry and Gigi Benson, Annette Tapert, Ann Downey and her daughter Mona Sayve, Terry Allen Kramer and Nick Simunek, Andrew Adler, film producer and Spike Gallery owner Donald Rosenfeld, Zoey and Michael Butt, two English people who live in Bermuda and in France, Ann Rapp, designer Anand John, Christine and Steve Schwarzman (who’d just flown in from Europe and came right to dinner).

Mrs. Jones, who is separated from Mick Jones (of Foreigner), is the mother of the famous Ronson twins of the New York club and music world, and lives in a wonderful townhouse that was said to have been built by Stanford White for his teenage mistress Evelyn Nesbit about a century ago. The five-story house still has much its original interiors including the light fittings, mirrors and paneling. Mrs. Jones in typical English fashion made upgrading alterations — kitchens and bathrooms (although many original bathroom fixtures remain from the original builder) — and otherwise left the rest alone. Some new floors and paint and she moved in her big comfy sofas, chairs, tables and grand piano and she was set.

 Mother, daughter, and Oliver in the Evelyn Nesbit boudoir
Before dinner, Mrs. Jones gave me a tour of the house to show me the Stanford White touches everywhere. Twelve- or fourteen-foot ceilings throughout, chandeliers and sconces that harkened to art nouveau. The wall behind the bed in the master – the mistress’s bedroom as it were – Mr. White installed a large beautifully gilt framed mirror. On either side were two pairs of smallish rings attached to the glass – to which something (or someone?) else could undoubtedly be attached. Hmmm.

Directly across the room was a substantial white fireplace with a frieze of cupids running under the mantlepiece. To the left of the fireplace was an alcove. Legend has it, according to Mrs. Jones’ historian friends – namely one Danny Zarem – that when White built the house he installed a wall there, with a two-way mirror. It was on the other side of that mirror that the girl’s mother, Mrs. Nesbit, would sit. And observe the couple’s love making so that she could later advise her daughter what she did or didn’t do wrong. This was all somewhere around 1902 or 03. Imagine what Mr. White would have done if he’d lived in the day of the video camera?

Evelyn Nesbit was a girl from Pittsburgh who came to the big town with her mother and her little brother when she was sixteen (1901). She got a job as an artist’s model posing for Frederick S. Church, a prominent magazine illustrator. Then Charles Dana Gibson heard about her and sketched her with her hair streaming down and forming a question mark. He called it “The Eternal Question.” Although, in retrospect, it seems that little Evelyn had no questions. Only answers.

A mirrored landing in Ann Jones townhouse
After that the gorgeous one opened on Broadway as one of the “Floradora” girls – a musical of the same name that was famous for a sextet of beautiful women, serenaded by frock-coated choristers:

" Prithee tell me pretty maiden, are there any more at home like you?"

And the properly coquettish maidens would reply: "There are a few, kind sir, but simple girls and proper, too."

There were more than a few gents (which is what they were called in those days) in the audience who listened carefully to the girls’ answers. It was said that any girl who became a “Floradora” went on to marry a millionaire. We know Evelyn Nesbit certainly did. She married Harry K. Thaw, the Pittsburgh millionaire. And when he heard from his darling wife’s luscious lips about her affair with that redheaded, red mustachioed rake, Stanford White, he was so incensed he wanted to kill him. Which, as we know, he eventually did.

After seeing the house that Stanford White built for his teen-age amoureuse, and her fabulous bedroom with the French doors leading out onto the terrace overlooking the champagne dawns, and that enormous mirror behind (now Ann Jones’) bed, I could only imagine that Stannie and Evelyn had one hell of a good time, and that was probably what really burned up Harry Thaw. Who, as we know now, was mainly just a nutcase.
L. to r.: One of many Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. portraits of Evelyn Nesbit; The most famous rendition of Evelyn was a sculpture of the goddess Diana which Stanford White commissioned the famous artist (and his personal friend) Saint-Gaudens to make for the pinnacle of Madison Square Garden. Harry K. Thaw killed Stanford White beneath this statue.

Ann Jones gave a dinner for her old friends Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas
Ann Downey
Sharon Sondes
Ann Rapp
Gigi Benson
Nick Simunek and Terry Allen Kramer
Annette Tapert, Ann Jones, and Harry Benson
Andrew Adler and Mona Sayve
Geoff Thomas and the hostess
Donald Rosenfeld, Ann Jones, Anand Jon, Nicole, and Murielle Arden
Christine Schwarzman
Annabelle Jones and Oliver
Anand Jon
The hostess and Andrew Dawson

Photographs by DPC/


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