Another marathon night
Taking their bows at last night's American Ballet Theatre gala after the performance of Agnes de Mille's "Rodeo" at City Center. 9:10 PM. Photo: JH.

Another beautiful day in New York. The kind where, if you’re like me, walking the dogs down by the riverside, sun glistening, light breeze gusting here and there, you say aloud: what a beautiful day, and for a moment there everything is All Right.

At about six-thirty I went over to the Fifth Avenue apartment of Georgette Mosbacher where she was throwing a cocktail/book party for Michael Gross and his new tome 740 Park Avenue; The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building (see NYSD 10/4/05) which is one of the most interesting non-fiction books you’ll ever read about New York society in the last 75 years.

Michael Gross

Mrs. Mosbacher, the cosmetics and skin-care tycooness, invited 200 of the most prominent talkers, opinion-makers, blabbermouths and social gadflies, along with their best friends, acquaintances and the people who make up the media. Very smart, Mrs. Mosbacher, she is. Because practically everyone in the room is dying to read the book to find out if Michael Gross wrote what they already know (but wouldn’t tell him), and just exactly where he drew the line in revealing the “inside” on all the families that have lived in this famously sought after residential building that sits on the northwest corner of Park Avenue and 71st Street.

Jackie Onassis
’ grandfather James T. Lee built it, beginning in the same year she was born (1929) and completing it two years later when the world had fallen apart and a lot of the formerly rich were still jumping out windows. Nevertheless, like Scarlett and Tara, the sun did come up tomorrow, paving the way for all kinds of new family sagas (including Jackie’s parents Janet and Jack Bouvier who lived there briefly, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Lee), most of which, like all family stories, are gone with the wind.

There were a number of people at Mrs. Mosbacher’s quite palatial apartment who either lived in the building or were related to those who lived in the building. Dasha Epstein, the Broadway producer lived there from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. David and Julia Koch have just moved in. Alice Mason, the absolute empress of private residential real estate brokers had a hand in the puchase and sale of several of the apartments (and sometimes the same apartment more than once). Jesse Araskog and her husband recently sold their co-op there. Diana Quasha who recently sold her 720 Park Avenue apartment lived at 740 before that. Kathy Steinberg, the sister-in-law of Saul Steinberg, was the broker on both sides of the deal when Steve Schwarzman paid $31 million to buy the old John D. Rockefeller Jr. apartment from Mr. Steinberg. Dominick Dunne never lived there but more than one character in his novels has lived in a buildling Just Like It (fiction, of course).

Click image to order 740 Park

In many ways, New York is a small town, and like all small towns, there are the pieces of real estate (the biggest house in town, for example) that stimulate interest, envy, greed, and all the other Machiavellian traits that taunt our psyches at one point or another. 740 Park is the place that frequently haunts the dreams of the must-haves in Manhattan.

The fabulous Mosbacher digs had more than enough room (and then some to go around) for the clamoring crowd last night, and so many of them knew each other, or knew of each other, or always wanted to know each other. So it was like Old Home Week visits Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (without what’s-his-name’s bellowing voice to distract).

There will be discussions for some time as to whether or not Michael Gross was fair or mean to the tenants of the building. It doesn’t matter. As I’ve written here before about his book, it is a testament to the fact that all gossip ultimately becomes history, even, alas, the stuff that’s not true.

Geoffrey Thomas, Sharon Sondes, and David Koch
Jamie Whitehead, Deborah Schoeneman, and Robert Zimmerman
Dominick Dunne and Christopher Mason
Somers Farkas and Jesse Araskog

Georgette Mosbacher and Lyn Paulsin
Ron and Harriet Weintraub
Mario Buatta and Anthony Haden-Guest

Tiffany Dubin and Kevin Krier
R. Couri Hay, Rupel Patel, and Robert Burke
Leba Sedaka, Martha Kramer, Neal Fox, and Gina de Franco
Deborah Schoeneman and Richard Meier
Byron Wien and Barbara Goldsmith

Jeanne Lawrence and Marjorie Reed Gordon
Nancy Holmes and Michael Gross
Dasha Epstein and Olivia Hoge

Gail and Kevin Buckley with Warren Hoge
Phoebe Eaton
Barbara Goldsmith and Kathy Rayner

Leslie Stevens and friend
Allison and Leonard Stern
Ann Rapp and Nancy Holmes

Kathy Steinberg
Jill Brooke, Phyllis George, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schlieff
Kenny Lane and Wendy Stark
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Klein
Catherine Saxton, Cornelia Bregman, and Lloyd Grove
Wendy and Geoffrey Gates
Mai Harrison and Alan Grubman

Cindy Adams and Robert Zimmerman
Alice Mason
Dominique Richard

Dominique's shoes
Wendy Sarasohn, Christine Biddle, and Nancy Gillon

Lyn Paulsin and Lesley Stahl
The Mosbacher living room
Dr. Richard Bockman and Gale Hayman
Christine and Carl Bernstein with Deborah Grubman
Champagne makes the rounds
John and Nancy Burges with Mallory and Roy Kean
Kirk Henckels and Fernanda Kellogg with a friend
After almost an hour of schmoozing, gnoshing, quaffing (shloshing) and picture taking, JH and I decided to move on down the Avenue to the apartment of Linda and Arthur Carter who were giving a book party for their very good friend Peggy Drexler who’s written a book on a recent phenomenon in American domestic life called Raising Boys Without Men.

Peggy Drexler holding Raising Boys Without Men. Click image to order.
Mrs. Drexler is a professional psychologist and so she knows something about her subject. She told us that now only 25% of American families have a mother and father living together. The rest are single parents and their children. She didn’t mention gay parents and their children although I would imagine the percentage might still be in the single digits. However it is, it’s very often an uphill battle or at least a great challenge; one which Mrs. Drexler addresses brilliantly.

Mrs. Drexler has her own family. Her husband Mickey is a merchandising tycoon who made his fortune by creating and running The Gap for many years before his grateful bosses asked him to leave after a couple (that’s all it takes in la-la land) bad quarters. Although he evidently was set for life financially after leaving the The Gap, he still had a hunger for the game and so now he’s running J. Crew and quite successfully.
Arthur and Linda Carter

Kathy Sloane
Because we’d spent so much time at Ms. Mosbacher’s the Carters’ party was beginning to run down when we arrived. Peggy Drexler was busy signing books. The Carters were in conversation with Carl Bernstein and his wife Christine, who’d also been at the Mosbacher party. We got a couple shots and then headed over to City Center in order to make the second act of the ABT autumn gala.

Allison Stern, Grace Hightower, and Muffie Potter Aston
We made it to the City Center (on 55th between 6th and 7th) just as it was breaking for intermission. Coincidentally we ran into Jacob Bernstein, the reporter son of Carl (and writer/director Nora Ephron). Again JH got some shots of the opening night crowd and the bells started ringing for the beginning of the second act. Having not seen the program, having no idea what to expect, it was astonishingly nostalgic when the curtain rose to Oliver Smith’s scenery and the music of Aaron Copland and Agnes de Mille’s historic ballet of the American Southwest, “Rodeo.”

“Rodeo” was first performed sixty-three years and three days ago by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and became part of the repertory of the ABT when they were performing in Wiesbaden, Germany in August 1950. Agnes de Mille, a niece of the famous film director Cecil B. de Mille, grew up in Los Angeles where she went to school with Louis B. Mayer’s daughters, with Jean Harlow, Joel McCrea, etc., and went on to become the premiere female American choreographer whose work was part of the ground-breaking musical “Oklahoma” (which opened in 1943).

So it was impossible for me, never having seen “Rodeo,” although being familiar with the music, to think of what it must have been like for those European audiences, back in the terrible and wretched time of World War II destroying so much of Europe, to see this pure and simple dance story set in a faraway and serene environment of the American Southwest where the issue was the age-old one for that place and most times: a story of a woman looking for a suitable man. The audience loved it, understandably.

Saracino Fendi and Peter Lyden
Jacob Bernstein
Jackie Weld Drake and Rod Drake
Rachel Moore
Intermission at the Ballet
Peg Ranieri, Paul Beirne, Sharon Patrick, and Lew Ranieri
Jonathan Farkas
Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas, and Grace Hightower
Outside of NY City Center post performance on our way to The Pierre
From the City Center we moved on – walking on this beautiful night across Fifty-seventh Street to Fifth and up to the Pierre on 60th – for dinner and dancing in the hotel ballroom. Visions of the dancers’ “roping, riding branding and throwing” in “Rodeo,” still dancing in our heads.
Judy Peabody
Amy Fine Collins and Alex Hitz

 



October 20, 2005, Volume V, Number 180
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch & DPC/NYSD.com

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