Monday, January 26, 2009

A Little Birdie Told Me ...

A cardinal perched in Central Park. 2:00 PM.
January 26, 2009. A cold sunny weekend with the weatherman forecasting more cold and more snow coming in from the west by midweek.

Le Cirque on Friday night was filled to its gorgeous rafters; La Grenouille – couldn’t get a booking, full-up. Same at Bice, same at Swifty’s.

New York has a new senator Kristen Gillibrand, replacing Hillary Clinton who is now Secretary of State under President Obama.

Yesterday, Mrs. Gillibrand had what the New York Times referred to as a “Congratulatory” lunch at the Waldorf with the man who appointed her, Governor Paterson, and Senator Schumer and Mrs. Clinton. And there was a photographer present to spread the word.

The question is: what is “the word” and for whom is it meant. For us, John Q. Public, of course. And perhaps for all those political operatives who got aced out of this situation whose noses must be a little out of joint (and maybe a little bloody) after all was said and done.

The Times
is running the story on the web along with a picture of the four of them at table. Mrs. Clinton is doing the talking, and she looks as authoritative as you might expect of this very smart and accomplished woman who came thisclose to the Presidency.
NY Times.
If you’d just come down from planet Mars and saw the image of this foursome, you wouldn’t need to know the language to know the story: it would be quite clear who’s in charge. What’s not as clear from the picture is who owes (and owed) whom in the great world of politics that they inhabit. But I bet if the Martian had to guess, he (or she) would get it ... Well, who do you think?

Mrs. Gillibrand is not a newcomer to Mrs. Clinton’s orbit. The now former Senator had been a supporter in Gillibrand’s campaign for Congress and vice-versa ever since the new Senator demonstrated her capacity for hard work as the woman she is succeeding.

Meanwhile the trip back to New York for Caroline Kennedy after the Inauguration in Washington was evidently less than relaxing for the once-thought-to-be political heiress. The one-time Senate possible appointee was reported to have been on her cell, very “agitated’ about something.

Ms. Kennedy and her husband Mr. Schlossberg
There remain all kinds of theories over how Ms. Kennedy lost out on what to many looked to be a sure thing. The most sensational rumor now given publicly as one of the “reasons” why she was passed up by the governor, was an alleged relationship with Times publisher and scion Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. who is often referred to in the press as “Pinch” (Sulzberger Sr.’s nickname is “Punch”). Mr. Sulzberger recently left his wife and marriage also.

This rumor is not new. It’s been a topic of discussion for many months now. There have been two blind items about it for the discerning reader in the NYSD.

True or false, Ms. Kennedy and her husband Mr. Schlossberg have still been seen out socially at dinner parties and a deux or with family at local restaurants very often, looking quite copasetic, as they say. In fact Mr. Schlossberg has been observed to be looking quite attentive to his wife. In other words, they don’t look like a couple who are having marital problems. Although who knows.

There are others, astute observers of the passing parade who believe the real reason Ms. Kennedy did not make the cut was two fold. One, her public performance “campaigning” was just plain lousy. Her manner of articulating her thoughts ran dramatically counter to the enormously positive public image life has bestowed on this very attractive woman.

“And then she opened her mouth,” dispelling thousands upon thousands of words a lifetime of pictures had spoken for her.

While this was very damaging to her almost fairytale public image, altering it forever, “astute observers” also believe the decisive reason she was passed over was because she made “fatal” errors in her political coming-out. She did not know how to play the game; and in the end she was aced out by someone who did. Or I should say, “someones” who did. And do. And will continue to. As it should be.

John Thain
Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch’s now erstwhile leader John Thain is the man of the hour thanks to his $1.2 million dollar executive office décor – a job accomplished by Michael Smith, the West Coast interior designer who has now been chosen to freshen up the private quarters in the Obama White House.

Mr. Thain and his wife are naturally acquisitive when it comes to luxurious living. A couple of years ago they bought a two bedroom apartment at 740 Park Avenue for $27 million – a record for a two bedroom jobbie, and spent another year (and no doubt a small fortune) renovating, refurbishing, furnishing the place. The Thains have taste and have a reputation for achieving it, with money apparently being no object.

Whatever they spent and however they spent it, it is a drop in the bucket to the billions in bonuses that were awarded this year by Mr. Thain to his underlings/ employees/associates at Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch reported a loss for the first nine months of 2008 of almost $12 billion. That’s okay, they have a rich uncle named Sam, who coincidentally is the same uncle supported by the American taxpayer.

Mr. Thain had been brought into the job a little more than year ago as a “Mr. Fixit” to turn around the failing, once-proud brokerage firm and investment bank. He had been co-president of Goldman Sachs and then head of the New York Stock Exchange where he had been hired to restore its public image after Richard Grasso collected a centimillion dollar salary and bonus for his executive services. The White Knight.

Also this past week, the WSJ revealed that only last November Bernie Madoff was pitching his fund to the very rich investment banker and backer of Home Depot Ken Langone for a potential $500 million investment. The possible bonanza went awry, according to the report because Mr. Langone smelled something fishy. Or a rat. So the cards fell where they might have for Bernie and the rest is history.
Madoff in his penthouse apt.
Now, let’s pretend we could interview Bernie Madoff sitting up there in his penthouse high above the town waiting to go on trial. I’d love to get his take on the latest goings-on in the world of Hand Over The Money. I’d love to ask him what he thought of the billion dollar Merrill Lynch bonuses or Mr. Thain’s million dollar office décor.

Would he say: “Business as usual; wudja expect?” Or would he be just roaring with laughter.

One question I am often asked these days is: what does this have to do with Society in New York. Answer: everything.
The Friday afternoon crowd at the Park Avenue Armory for the 55th Annual Winter Antiques Show.
Meanwhile, life goes on and last Thursday night at the Park Avenue Armory, social New York and several hundred collectors, museum curators, interior designers turned out for the East Side House Settlement’s Benefit Preview of the 55th Annual Winter Antiques Show.
At A La Vieille Russie at 781 Fifth Avenue (corner 59th Street), A Russian icon of two 4th century Saints, Makarius, the Bishop of Alexandria, on the left, and Makarius, the Fool for Christ, on the right, with Christ above; with gilded basma. Moscow School 17th Century. 12 1/4 inches x 9 1/4 inches, from the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

This was reproduced in the four-volume "Antiquities of the Russian State," 1849, the publication of which was ordered by Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) to document Russian Imperial treasures, with drawing by Feodor Solntsev.
A cigarette case with an attached lighter that is ignited and turned off by cord, for use when out hunting, able to light more than one cigarette at a time; also at A La Vieille Russie.
Porcelains from Cohen & Cohen of London, a pair of cranes modeled in mirror image, standing on pierced oval rockwork bases with a large lingzhi fungus sprays, the poumage incised and glazed white. Jianquing, c. 1810. Height: 26 inches (66 cm). Also from Cohen & Cohen of London, a massive pair of peacocks enameled in green and polychrome, on tree stumps decorated with colorful fungi and flowers. Jiajing, c. 1820. Height: 22 1/2 inches (57 cm).
An impressively-scaled late 19th century model of a spiral staircase constructed of polished cast iron and wrought iron, with brass handrails and on an oak parquetry floor platform base, c. 1880. From Kentshire Galleries, Ltd. New York, NY.
This is one of the great annual antiques shows in New York. More than 25,000 people will have visited this show before it closes at the end of the next weekend. Seventy-five first rate exhibitors from this country and the UK show their collections that have been by a 160 member Vetting Committee, insuring the show’s success because of its high standards.
Robert Young Antiques. London, England.
Above: Donald Ellis Gallery. Dundas, Ontario, Canada • NY, NY.

Right: G.K.S. Bush, Inc. Miami Beach, FL.
The Fine Art Society PLC. London, England.
Above, l. tor .: Elliot & Grace Snyder. South Egremont, MA; Gerald Peters Gallery. New York, NY.

Right: Old Hope Antiques, Inc. New Hope, PA.
Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques. Colchester, CT.
Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques. Colchester, CT.
Adelson Galleries, Inc. New York, NY.
Right: Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photographs. New York, NY; Julius Lowy Frame & Restoring Company, Inc. New York, NY.

Right: Conru Primitive Art. Brussels, Belgium • Devon, England.
Dillingham & Co. New York, NY.
Foster • Gwin, Inc. San Francisco, CA.
Julius Lowy Frame & Restoring Company, Inc. New York, NY.
Roger Keverne Limited. London, England.
Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc. New York, NY.
Martyn Gregory. London, England.
Mallett. New York, NY • London, England.
L'Antiquaire & The Connoisseur, Inc. New York, NY.
Gerald Peters Gallery. New York, NY.
Above, l. to r.: Rupert Wace Ancient Art Limited. London, England; Peter Tillou Works of Art & Jeffrey Tillou Antiques. Litchfield, CT.

Right: A La Vieille Russie. New York, NY.
Barbara Israel Garden Antiques. New York, NY.
Georgian Manor Antiques. Fairhaven, MA.
Peter Tillou Works of Art & Jeffrey Tillou Antiques. Litchfield, CT.
Carolle Thibault-Pomerantz. New York, NY.
Above, left: Macklowe Gallery, Ltd. New York, NY.

Above right and left: Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts, LLC. New York, NY.
Peter Pap Oriental Rugs. Dublin, NH • San Francisco, CA.
Cora Ginsburg LLC. New York, NY.
Morning Star Gallery, Ltd. Santa Fe, NM.
Schwarz Gallery. Philadelphia, PA.
Antik. New York, NY.
David A. Schorsch – Eileen M. Smiles American Antiques, Inc. Woodbury, CT.
Suzanne Courcier • Robert W. Wilkins. Yarmouth Port, MA.
Phillip Colleck, Ltd. New York, NY.
Keshishian. London, England.
Taylor B. Williams Antiques. Chicago, IL.
Peter Finer. London, England.
Giampietro. New Haven, CT.
Geoffrey Diner Gallery, Inc. Washington, DC.
Clinton Howell Antiques. New York, NY.
Associated Artists, LLC. Southport, CT.
Alexander Gallery. New York, NY.

Comments? Contact DPC here.