Busy day, yet again
Fall days. 3:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Busy day at Michael’s; Multi-media. Michael Gross was lunching with Nancy Stoddart, in from L.A. Nancy was once a resident of 740 Park Avenue and of course is a subject in Gross’ book of the same name. At the time the Main Line bred Stoddart was married to Wall Streeter Peter Huang whom she eventually left and 740 for music impresario Nile Rodgers. Which speaking of music, at another table were Leba and Neal Sedaka. Did you know that Neal Sedaka wrote three of the ten most played songs in the world – every three minues, somewhere around the globe, one of these songs is playing.

Also lunching: Bloomberg campaign adviser Jonathan Capehart was with Christine Taylor. Rosanna Scotto of Channel 5 and Lynn White of WB 11 were trading news notes. Shirley Lord was with David Monn and Spiros and Antonia Milonas. Esther Newberg with Random House editor (also editor of Michael Gross’ book) Peter Gethers; Clinton biographer David Maraniss with editor Alice Mayhew; Kate Betts; Fredi Friedman; Sports Illustrated’s Terry McDonell. Peter Himler and Justin Smith of The Week were lunching with Time’s Margaret Carlson. Keith Kelly the media man of the New York Post was with Beth Kniesiak and Alan Katz of Vanity Fair meaning ... something. Also around the room, PR guru Judith Agisim, former Presidential adviser and TV point man, Paul Begala; Chuck Pfeiffer, Miles O’Brien.

DPC, David, Viscount Linley, and Wendy Moonan

Over at our table we were lunching with David, Viscount Linley, Wendy Moonan of the New York Times, Tim Knox of the Sir John Soane Museum in London and William Banks-Blaney, an associate of Linley.

We started out the day (the lot of us) with a tour of the late Philip Johnson’s pied-a-terre in the Museum Tower next to the Museum of Modern Art. The apartment which is a small one bedroom was left to Johnson’s longtime (almost 45 years) companion David Whitney when he died last January at 98. Whitney died six months later at 66.

The reason for the visit to the Johnson apartment which will be sold after Johnson’s art and books will be transferred to the de Menil Museum in Houston, was to see the influence of John Soane on Johnson’s design of his apartment. With the exception of the living room which had the flattened vaulted ceiling and the added paneling that obscured the Cesar Pelli architectural design, as well as the lavatory with Andy Warhol wallpaper (signed by Warhol), what was remarkable about the apartment was its view of the Johnson designed garden court of MoMa below as well as an excellent view of the Johnson-designed SONY building two blocks to the northeast with its symbolic pedimental reference to a Chippendale highboy.

David Linley (his title is Viscount Linley but he asked to be called by his given name) is, as many know, the son of the late Princess Margaret and the photographer Lord Snowdon (Tony Armstrong-Jones), and the great-nephew of theatrical designer Oliver Messel. Twenty years ago he embarked on his own furniture design and manufacturing business, producing furniture of high quality reviving the interest in the art of marquetry. He now has two shops in London as well as an online accessories business. Click to visit.

And his business is booming with commissions for businesses, private residences as well as planes and yachts all over the world. Commissions have ranged from the boardroom table at the Metropolian Museum of Art in New York to the entrance lobby of the Savoy Hotel in London.

He was famously hired to outfit two stupendous
yachts for Mouna al-Ayoub and her former husband Dr. al-Rashid. They were, he told me, excellent clients in that they started the project with some ideas of what they needed and like a patron of the old style, allowed him to expand on those ideas. Among his famous clients are Mick Jagger, Elton John and other designers as well such as Peter Marino, David Easton, Nina Campbell, Kelly Hoppen, and David Mlinaric. You can visit his website at davidlinley.com.

The Sir John Soane Museum in London
David Linley was in town to be the honored guest for last night’s “Singular Sir John Soane’s 15th Anniversary Celebration" dinner at the Mandarin Oriental of the Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation here in
America (www.SoaneFoundation.com).

I’ve heard of the Soane Museum but confess to knowing little about it. Although I learned a lot more at lunch with Viscount Linley and the museum’s director Tim Knox, as well as Wendy Moonan who writes a weekly column on art and antiques for the Times and is very knowledgeable about this remarkable museum. Last night they were raising money to refurbish some of the Soane rooms and I believe they took in more than anticipated.

Sir John Soane was a British architect who lived between 1753 and 1837. He is very famous among architects and interior designers today because he is regarded as possibly the first modernist because of his use of light and space in his interior designs. Someone at the table told me that architects as diverse as Michael Graves and Frank Gehry are great admirers of his work. So is David Linley, which is why he made the trip solely to support this cause.

Soane had a wife, and two sons who turned out to be reprobates. They outlived his wife but because of the troubles they caused him, he made a will leaving his house (which is now the museum) to the British nation, with the proviso that nothing be moved, and in the 168 years since his wishes have been kept. He was an innovator, an experimenter and his ideas are still being used and built upon today. The museum has become one of the great stopping-off points for visitors to London. You can learn more about this amazing museum and house by visiting the web site: http://www.soane.org/.

As usual there was a lot of activity last night on the benefit circuit around New York. The American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust's held their 18th annual gala dinner dance honoring Ambassador Anne Armstrong and Ed Ruscha.

The Children’s Tumor Foundation had their 2005 Benefit Dinner at Cipriani 23rd Street. The High 5 Tickets to the Arts Fall Benefit, a performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, with Marcia Gay Harden as honorary chair.

Over at The Frick David Yurman was celebrating his 25 Years of Classic American Jewelry Design with a dinner dance.

At Lincoln Center, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts were holding their Fall Gala: Great Performers, featuring arias and duets by Beethoven and Wagner, performed by Deborah Voigt and Ben Heppner with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

At the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Habitat for Humanity was holding its 6th Annual Builder Awards Gala, with Honorary Co-chairs Al Roker and Susan Sarandon.

In literary land, there was also a Margaret and Michael Korda book signing for Cat People.

And over at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street, the Brooklyn Museum was holding its anniversary celebration of Modernism: A Century of Style & Design.

Maurice Levy and Frederick Smith
Me, I was at The Four Seasons restaurant for the annual French-American Foundation Gala dinner where they presented the Benjamin Franklin Award to Frederick Smith, the Chairman and CEO of the Fedex Corporation. This is a black tie dinner which draws a cross section of sophisticated and worldly people who love France. The French ambassador and his wife, His Excellency the Ambassador of France and Mme. Jean-David Levitte were there. Co-chairs included Ambassador Anne Cox Chambers, Ambassador Walter J. P. Curley, Mr. Michel David-Weill, Elizabeth Fondaras, Ambassador Howard Leach, Mr. Maurice Levy, the head of Publicis, the world 4th largest advertising and media company; Mrs. Michael E. Patterson, Kathy Rayner, Ambassador Felix Rohatyn, and Anne Sitrick.

The mission of the French-American Foundation, which was founded in 1976, the year of our bi-centennial, is committed to strengthening French-American relations and encouraging an active dialgue between the two countries, which means promoting a deeper mutual understanding, reducing misperceptions, bringing together French and American leaders as well as policy makers and other professionals to exchange views.

Fedex, for example, runs its European business out of its hub at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris. Mr. Smith stated that the company chose France for its hub because of the centuries old relationship between the two countries.

Armene Milliken and Spiros Milonas
Ambassador Levitte was happy to declare that since we met at this dinner last year, the relationship between the two countries had improved. He went on to reiterate the common bonds that we have had since the 18th century. Fred Smith in his acceptance speech reiterated the same thing. What is going on in France now is of concern to everyone who cares about democracy in the world. Ambassador Levitte said that it was not the result of a religious movement but the result of second and third generation young people who are under-employed and do not have a sense of a future as citizens of that country. He said that the government had to right some of these wrongs (my words) in order for things to improve markedly.

We dined on Wild Mushroom Risotto, Breast of Pheasant, Truffle Mashed Potatoes and Broccolini and finished it all off with Chocolate Souffle, wines and champagne.
Armene Milliken and Kathy Sloane
Lionel Larner and Antonia Milonas
Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg
Kenny Lane and Doda Voridis
Elizabeth and Catherine Hamilton
Pat Patterson
Liz Fondaras and Lily Safra
Ann Sitrick and Maurice Sonnenberg
Fred Smith and Ambassador Jean-David Levitte
Ambassador Felix and Elizabeth Rohatyn
Julian Niccolini and friend
Victoria Wyman and Jim Sitrick



November 10, 2005, Volume V, Number 190

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