Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two more weeks till Christmas Eve

Looking towards the Central Park Zoo from 66th Street. 8:30 PM. Photo: JH.
12/10. Two more weeks till Christmas Eve. It was cold yesterday but warmed up considerably by evening.

Today over at Sotheby’s, they had a “Magnificent Jewels” sale that brought in $20,348, 375, about 25% under the low estimate of the sale (est. $28,081,500 / 38,497,000). We notice these things on a chart or graph, but on the face of it, it’s still $20 million worth of precious jewelry; more than a nice walk in the Park. the sale of Magnificent Jewels brought $20,348,375.
LOT 419
Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Ring sold for $2,658,500 at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels sale yesterday.
Lisa Hubbard, Chairman, International Jewelry, North and South America put it more succinctly: “In today’s sale, we saw that truly special stones and beautiful jewels still manage to withstand the volatility of the market.”

The Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Ring (which was on the catalogue cover), brought $2,658,500. The back cover lot, a pear-shaped D color type IIa Diamond Ring, achieved $1,224,900. Another strong price was for the Diamond Ring by Harry Winston, which sold for over $1 million.

The sale also showed the strength of colored stones: the 12.42 carat Colombian Emerald fetched $218,500, well above estimate, and a per carat price of over $24,000 was final bid for Burmese sapphires.

Competitive prices were achieved for beautiful jewels including the René Boivin Necklace, the Gold and Diamond Serpent Necklace, and contemporary signed jewels by Van Cleef and Arpels, which attracted buyers from around the world.

The David Webb Collection brought $1.3 million, within its pre-sale estimate of $1.1 to 1.5 million. This designer, who previously catered to fashionable women of the 1960s and 1970s, has found a new generation of admirers who appreciate his vision and strong sense of design. David Webb has evolved into the ultimate classic American designer.
Dr. Harold Koplewicz, Paul Tudor Jones II, Brooke Neidich, Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn, Alice Tisch, and Gary Cohn
Last night over at Cipriani 42nd Street, the NYU Child Study Center at the NYU Langone Medical Center honored Paul Tudor Jones II at its eleventh annual gala. Mr. Jones is the founder of the Robin Hood Foundation and Tudor Investment Corporation. He received the Child Advocacy Award. The evening was co-chaired by NYU CSC Board members Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn and Gary Cohn and friends of the NYU CSC, Danielle and David Ganek, and Sukey and Michael Novogratz. Last night's dinner raised $5.8 million.

Paul Tudor Jones II with wife Sonia
Nearly 600 guests were in attendance at the event which included a live auction conducted by Sotheby’s Hugh Hildesley to raise funds for the Brooke Garber Neidich Open Doors Fund (a scholarship fund that supports unfunded clinical care and outreach for needy children) and the debut of a new film created by Oscar-nominated director Nathaniel Kahn (My Architect, 2004) featuring ParentCorps, a preventive school- and family-based early intervention program for pre-schoolers living in low-income, urban communities.

The evening program included remarks from NYU Child Study Center Board Chair and co-founder Brooke Garber Neidich and founder and director Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., who also announced a $4 million gift from the J. Ira Harris and Nicki Harris Family Foundation to help further the mission of HOPE (Harris Obesity Prevention Effort) and better address the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.

Among those attending: Jane and Jimmy Buffett; Ellen Barkin; Erica Jong; Jane Rosenthal; Governor Jon S. Corzine; Dr. Ruth Westheimer; Vera Wang; Elie Wiesel; Christiane Celle; Senator Al D’Amato; Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s, auctioneer for the evening; HRH Princess Alexandra of Greece; Klara and Larry Silverstein; Juju Chang and Neal Shapiro; Chris and Richard Mack; Julie and Edward Minskoff; Elaine and Ken Langone; Lori and George Hall; Susan and Martin Lipton; Marcia Mishaan; Claude Wasserstein; Vicki and Stuart Match Suna; Board Chair Brooke Garber Neidich and Daniel Neidich; Linda and Arthur Carter; Alice and Tom Tisch;  Robert I. Grossman, M.D., Dean and CEO of NYU Medical Center; and Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D.

The New York University Child Study Center is the nation's leading organization for research, prevention and treatment of child and adolescent psychiatric and learning disorders. Through science-based clinical care, cutting-edge research, expert professional training, and extensive public education, the Center strives to generate new knowledge about child mental health, improve the practices of healthcare professionals who serve children, and influence child-related public health policy. Most importantly, the Center provides hope, help and care to children and their families who suffer from these disorders.

The NYU Child Study Center is committed to giving children back their childhood. To learn more, visit
Dr. Harold Koplewicz and Governor John Corzine Molly Jong Fast, Matthew Greenfield, and Erica Jong Ellen Barkin
Arthur Becker and Vera Wang Jimmy and Jane Buffett Benny Shabtai
Klara and Larry Silverstein Gary Cohn and Elaine Langone Dan Neidich and Jane Rosenthal
Dr. Ruth Cipriani 42nd Street
Meanwhile, farther up the avenue at Doubles, the private club in the Sherry Netherland, David and Lisa Schiff hosted an engagement party for their daughter Ashley who has become engaged to Mike Ramos of Palm Beach, Florida. Doubles is decorated head to toe for the holiday season, a paean to reds and golds and glittery wreaths, a perfect atmosphere for this jolly occasion.

The couple have been dating for a couple of years. Ms. Schiff who has been active in big time public relations in New York is also an enthusiastic polo player and has been spending weekends at Wellington and Palm Beach in wintertime for a few years now.

I think it was there that she meet her affianced who works with Jimmy Buffett of Marguaritaville et al -- a position he’s held since he was a very young man (he’s now in his early forties. His betrothed is thirty-four). The twosome are an athletic duo. She’s taught him polo and he’s taught her surfing and there you have it. They will split their time between New York and Florida.

There must have been about a couple hundred guests there last night and scads of trays of pigs-in-a-blanket keeping a lotta little piggies (including this writer) squealing with delight.
Ashley Schiff and Mike Ramos Tyler Schiff, Joy Ingham, and Jamie Schiff
Drew Schiff and Jonathan Capehart Dana and Scott Schiff
The December holiday issue of Quest came out yesterday, and I have to say, even though my name is on the masthead, it looks great, the perfect pitch for the festive time, reminding us all how much we need to assert the festive.

Re-reading my Editor’s Letter last night I was reminded of what needs reminding, that we gather a bit of the child’s cheer to move us through these last days of the old year and look with good cheer at the new.

The letter:

Well, it’s that time of year again. Didn’t take long to get here, did it? And despite the short trip from January to December, it’s been quite a ride for a lot of us, albeit bumpy at times, and then sometimes bumpier; and hair-raising too. However, we got here, and all in one piece or sort of.

December issue of Quest
The nice thing about December is that it is a month for nostalgia, and nostalgia is as beautiful as those evergreens laden with freshly fallen snow. We haven’t had any of that yet, as of this writing, although before you read these words, perhaps we will.

Nostalgia is the treasurer of hopes and dreams. All these years later, Christmas remains for me as it was when I was a kid. It’s not about a religion but more about a spirit. My Christmas all these years later bears little physical resemblance to the one of yore. In fact, it’s not like the olden days at all. But no matter, what it was for the kid was good enough to last a lifetime.

I think I was four when as I lay in my little bed I first heard Santa’s foot bump the step at the front door downstairs. It was a clumping sound, as if he might have slipped on cold, freshly fallen snow. Just one bump, that’s all I heard; but clear as a bell. I asked about it the next morning and no one else had heard it. Of course I was the youngest one in the house and so the hearing was sharpest – a lot sharper than it is today. Over time I’ve been through that “footstep” sound many times. I realize now that everyone else might have been playing along with me, but I still tend to think I did hear it.

Now of course I know there’s no such thing as Santa Claus although I must say I wouldn’t mind if there were. And a few reindeers and Mrs. Claus too. And the elves, as well as the Sugar Plum Fairy with her sparkling wand.

We need a few more Santas right about now, wouldn’t you agree? Of course most of us are too old or too large to sit on the old boy’s lap. And we already know that sensational white beard is Not. I remember the first time I visited Santa in the local department store, taken by one of my aunts who must have been babysitting me for the day. I was very nervous in my anticipation. Again, I must have been four or five. I was worried about what Santa would think since I’d heard the song “you better watch, etc.” many times, and like all four years, I still knew only the truth. I was worried because, after all, I knew that I had cried and I had pouted, and I wasn’t always so nice (you could just ask my mother; she’d tell you). Fortunately she wasn’t there when I met Santa. I was safe with my Aunt Bebe: she always loved me, no matter what I said or did.

I can’t remember the conversation once I was upon Santa’s lap. I probably couldn’t believe I’d finally got there. I’m sure he asked me what I wanted and I’m sure I told him. I think that year it was a sled (there was a lot of snow in those days). And lo, Christmas morning when I got downstairs, there it was, under the tree: an American Flyer with red runners.

So despite all the bumps and hurdles along the way, the kid grew up thinking that if you asked (Santa or someone like him) you would receive. One change that has occurred in my consciousness is that now I find myself looking for the Santa who can grant the wishes I have for others as well as myself. The more that’s good for everybody, the better the good for me.

The holidays are different for us depending on our ages and our traditions. The little ones who want those sleds and electric trains (which now have translated into something else I know nothing about like vid games and iPods and motorized scooters) will still look and wish in wonder. The older kids, the young set and the set that’s a little older than they will still be getting psyched up for the holiday parties and dances. All of us at one point or another may be taking in another viewing of “The Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Meet Me in St. Louis” where the scrumptiously technicolored Judy Garland sheds a tear with the rest of us when she sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

But at the end of the day, the end of that week, the capping off of the old Year with the debut of the New, it’s clear that the Santa still remains within us, no matter who we are: Miracles and Merry, those are the real gifts, albeit often presented with tokens of affection acquired at your favorite shop or store. Miracles and Merry are the order of the day and the month for all of us this time around. Those are what I wish for you. Fingers crossed and make a wish: Happy New Year for us all, and peace ...

Photographs by Ann Watt (NYU)
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