A fair and mild autumn Wednesday night in New York
A sneak peek of the new Museum of Modern Art, and its Sculpture Garden (below). 8:15 PM. Photos: JH.
All kinds of things going on all over town. Up at the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West they were holding their annual Museum Ball, their largest annual benefit, with more than 400 attending. New York’s royal theatrical couple, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, along with Ralph Schlosstein and Jane Hartley, Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld, Aerin and Eric Zinterhofer, David and Julia Koch and Connie and Stephen Spahn were co-chairs.

First there were cocktails in the Rotunda at 6:30, and then the black tie guests were led by bagpipers into the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for dinner. That’s the three-story hall with the great whale suspended from the ceiling. Bardin Palomo transformed the place into an elegant, shimmering sea of white and gold with hundred of candles twinkling beneath skylights of undulating blue and a room filled with lush and fragrant gardens of lilies, hydrangeas, roses and more.

After dinner there was a fabulous auction
conducted by Christie’s Richard Briefley which included first-class transatlantic accommodations on the luxurious Queen Mary II; a private behind-the-scenes tour of NASA, a trip to Mongolia’s Gobi Desert with a renowned Museum paleontologist and a vacation at the exclusive Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic. And then Alex Donner and his band got everyone up from their tables and dancing under the big blue whale.

Among the guests joining museum president Ellen Futter and Museum board chairman Lewis Bernard were Billy and Kate Lee Joel, Narciso Rodgriquez, Karolina Kurkova, Amy Sacco, Tom and Meredith Brokaw, Anne and Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, Damien and Lillian von Stauffenberg, Lesley Stahl and Aaron Latham, Kimba Wood and Frank Richardson, Jodie and John Eastman, Vic and Pat Ganzi, Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman, Valerie and Jeffrey Peltier, Jonathan Rose, Jurate Kazickas and Roger Altman, William T. Golden, Ellen Liman, and Cristyne Nicholas, and Jack Rosenthal.

Meanwhile down at the Gramercy Park Armory at 26th and Lex, they were opening the Connoisseur’s Art Fair. While over at the Marriot Marquis on Broadway and 45th, they were holding the National Book Awards. At Saks (6th floor, men’s) Matthew Mellon, creative director of Harry’s of London was introducing the “feet of his famous friends.” Up at Sotheby’s at 72nd and York, the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House was opening its 17th annual Holiday Bazaar Preview Party for 500 intrepid New York holiday shoppers. This will be followed by three festive shopping days offering something for everyone at the right price.
The scene at Asprey
Sophie Dahl and Dan Baker Jr.
And then down at Asprey’s on 56th and Fifth, right next door to the Trump Tower and across the street from Harry Winston, from 6:30 to 8:30 Liev Schreiber was guest bartending and Sophie Dahl was reading from the Asprey Fine and Rare Book Collection. Sophie was reading from Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful And Damned.

JH and the Digital
was there to get a picture of the two famous ones, and as you see, he got Ms. Dahl and her sweetiepie, Dan Baker Jr. Mr. Schrieber wasn’t so easy to spot because, in fact, he was behind the bar mixing drinks for the clamoring crowd, and who wudda thot? Not us anyway.
L. to r.: Liev Schreiber; Eyes in the back of a head.
Chas Miller
Lucy Sykes with her son
Leslie Stevens

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After leaving Asprey’s we took a brief stroll down the avenue. At eight p.m. the crowds were out and the holiday decorations are just beginning to surface. There is the great silver snowflake (a new one this year) suspended over the junction of 57th and Fifth. At 54th, you could see there was life in the new MoMA now having its opening parties this week, and at 52nd and Fifth, Cartier is all wrapped up in silver and diamonds (the electric light version) and tiaras. Sleighbells ring ... are ya listenin’ ...?

On 54th, just west of the avenue, while I was waiting for JH to get the shot you see at the top of the column, I spotted a grey haired man with thick beard sitting on a townhouse stoop. He was rubbing his eyes, as if to wipe away the tears. He was bundled up in a parka with a hood and looked a little worse for the wear, and very sad. I made an assumption, and not an unusual one, that he was homeless. I pulled some singles out of my pocket, folded them discreetly (the block was fairly dark) and went over to him. As I extended my hand, without him saying a word, he shook his head nervously and folded his arms over his chest, as if to ward off my vibes. I was embarrassed afterwards, wondering if I’d somehow humiliated him with my gesture (for he did look down and out), if perhaps the suffering I had perceived was something that had nothing to do with economics or a homeless situation.
The Cartier mansion on 55th and Fifth
Tuesday night in New York. The American Cancer Society, New York chapter, had their annual theatre party, with dinner before (for 245) upstairs at “21” where they auctioned off a dinner for six prepared by Anna Moffo Sarnoff and purchased by Yue Sae Kan for $15,000 (that’ll be some pasta, no?), all going to the ACS. Then after dessert, everyone got into the cars and buses and went over to West 44th Street and the Broadhurst Theatre where Billy Crystal is previewing his one-man show “700 Sundays.”

I first saw Billy Crystal many years ago on the Johnny Carson Show. He was brand new on the scene and he did an imitation of one of the most famous men of the moment: Muhammad Ali. A little Jewish kid from Long Island, as white as they come, doing the giant African-American “I am the Greatest” world heavyweight boxing champion. Who would believe it? Anybody, the way this guy works. And funny, and respectful and full of love. Hysterical.

I was always amazed by his talent because not only can he make you laugh uncontrollably, but he’s full of wit both folksy and sophisticated. Those who’ve loved him do his shtick on the Oscars will be glad when the First Act of this show is over so that they can get some relief and catch their breath from laughing so much and so hard. It’s a limited engagement I hear it already has a $6 million advance, so hurry! ACS had a very successful night, taking in more than $300,000 for the cause.

November 18, 2004, Volume IV, Number 179
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/NYSD.com


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