Friday, March 13, 2009

End-of-winter's day in New York

Madoff reclines in his penthouse apartment the night before last. 9:10 PM.
March 13, 2009. Yesterday was a cold and sunny end-of-winter’s day in New York.

Over in London our friend Harry Benson went to Buckingham Palace to receive his CBE for services to photojournalism. Although you may not know it, Harry is the most famous photojournalist in the world.

He came to this country on the first trip the Beatles made to appear on Ed Sullivan. Harry’s the one who shot them in their hotel room jumping up and down on the bed. Harry’s also the one who was with Bobby Kennedy that night in Los Angeles in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel where he captured an image of the dying senator on the floor after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan.

Harry’s images are so familiar to so many of us that we forget they were all taken by this one man. My esteemed colleague, JH, the taker of the pictures of the NYSD, is a fan of Harry’s. I remember after looking at a new photograph of Harry’s -- one which had awed us both -- when I asked him what it was about Harry’s work that made him so compelling to look at. JH: “You can’t see the photographer in his pictures, they’re so real.”
Harry Benson and HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace yesterday.
So here’s a picture of the real photographer receiving congratulations from HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace yesterday.

Yesterday, as the world knows, Bernard Madoff
went to jail. He left his cozy penthouse high above the town to go to court. From the courthouse he was taken into custody and by the end of the day, put behind bars. Slam-clang-boom. In some ways there is no punishment bad enough for Bernie Madoff who swindled thousands of people out of their money. Because of that he made a mess of and even destroyed many lives.

He curried favor and in the end provided betrayal. I couldn’t help thinking about what it must have been like for him last night in his cell. Some think this is a sympathetic point of view. Some people think Bernie Madoff has the sociopathic ability to put anything out of his mind considering what he did to so many.

I don’t think so, not in this case. That was when he had a life; he could put things out of his mind. He doesn’t have a life anymore. It ended last night. You could argue that it ended several months ago when the hoax was revealed or several decades ago when he was led into temptation and went.

But last night he went from the longtime comforts of a very good life, albeit a life of crime; and in many ways a very luxurious, convenient, cushy life, to ... A cell. That’s when he found out his life is over and he’ll be living it. This will be his shrine of shame.
At the Temple of Dendur at the Met for No Ruz, the celebration of the Iranian New Year.
On a much brighter note, last night I was invited by my friends Nazee and Joe Moinian to attend No Ruz, the celebration of the Iranian New Year, at a dinner dance at the Temple of Dendur at the Met.

I’ve written this before: The Met is the greatest venue for a party in New York. But of course it is monumental and not for everyone on either side of the deal. For many it is too much and they might not qualify for the museum’s requirements. However, the Iranian-American population, considering mainly the Iranians who emigrated to the United States in 1979 after the Fall of the Shah and the emergence of the mullahs as the ruling elite, qualify and now enjoy an established relationship with the Met.
The Persian spread.
Many of these people were very prosperous in Iran but had to leave much, and in many cases, all behind when they left Iran. Many of these people have remade their fortunes and are actively engaged in the cultural life and affairs of New York.

The menu was entirely Persian. And delicious. The appetizer was a plate of pieces: Nan-o Panir-o Sabzi (bread, cheese and herbs roll), Dolme-Ye Barg-E Mo (Stuffed Grape Leaves) Salad Olivier (Chicken and Potato Salad), Shami-ye Lapeh (Split pea paddies), and Mat-o Khiar (Yogurt and cucumber dip). The Main Course was Baghali Polo ba Goosht (Rice with Dill and Fava Beans, Braised Short Ribs with Sauce), and Shirin Polo ba Morgh (Sweet Rice with Almond and Orange Rind, Saffron Chicken Breast). Dessert: Trio of Pomegranate Gelee Cream Roulette, Fresh Pomegranate Seeds and Orange Salad, Selection of Sweets, Pomegranate Juice with Vodka.
At the Temple of Dendur for the No Ruz celebration.
I met Nazee and Joe Moinian several years ago at a party of Barbara de Portago’s. Mr. Moinian is in the real estate business. Mrs. Moinian, mother of five, is the intellectual in the family. At least the actively intellectual one. She recently got her Masters at Columbia in International Relations.

She is now also working at the Council on Foreign Relations. She told me when I first knew her that she wanted to play a role in bringing Peace to the world. She thinks it is very possible. So do I. This point of view is a great launch pad for all kinds of conversations about history and politics and so it has been with me and Nazee.
But for the American boy it is still intriguing and mysterious as to our differences with others culturally. Last night at the table among the guests was Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. Dimitri, who holds one of those very coveted HRH titles in the world of Western Civilization, lives in this country although he spends a great deal of time in Paris and London.

The conversation about all that is very serious. And sitting next to him was Sohaila Adeli, Nazee Moinian’s sister who also came to the United States in 1979 when Khomeini returned to Tehran. Sitting on a massive platform surrounded by an elegant moat under a glass sky, sitting at tables surrounding the Temple of Dendur from other times and other emigration.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia Nazee and Joe Moinian Tom Campbell, the new Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mader and Mitra Damaghi Jacques Grange and Martha Stewart
Meanwhile getting away from it all – down in Palm Beach tonight under the sheltering palms, His Grace the 11th duke of Marlborough is giving a 50th birthday dinner for his bride Lily (his fourth). Lily is the second duchess of Marlborough, the first being Rosita who also spends a great deal of her winter times in Palm Beach. Sunny and Rosita, as they are known to their friends, were divorced last year and in December, he married Lily at Blenheim Palace.

The two duchesses have been in the same room together already this season at the Preservation Ball, and evidently there were no clashing tiaras. The duke also had two marchionesses (first two wives) back when he was only the Marquess of Blandford before his father moved on to more celestial climes. The second marchioness of Blandford was Tina Livanos Onassis whose ex-husband married Jacqueline Kennedy although Tina was long gone by then.

All the Spencer-Churchills have always loved Palm Beach and the duke has been coming since he was little Earl Sunderland (hence the nickname) coming to visit his Grannie, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan at her house Casa Alva in Manalapan.

Tonight’s seated black tie dinner which will be held in the Orange Gardens of the Everglades with the roof rolled back with a full moon and dancing under the stars, is the most coveted invitation of the season down there where the balmy breezes are still blowing for the more than one hundred friends of Marlborough at the Everglades.
The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough Rosita
Meanwhile. Yesterday, over in Maastricht, Netherlands, the European Fine Art Fair known far and wide as TEFAF had its opening previous. JH and I have attended in the past three years but were unable to make this one. Of all the Art Fairs in the world that we’ve covered for the NYSD, there is nothing that matches TEFAF. The Biennale Antiquaires in Paris is brilliantly French but TEFAF is a notch or three above. It is also the largest. There were 239 exhibitors/dealers from North and South American, Europe and Asia. A record. TEFAF’s vetting system is the most rigorous in the world.

Some were concerned about this year’s turnout because of the financial situation in the world. However, all of the spaces for private jets at the local airport were taken well in advance. Last year they had more private jets from around the world than travel to the SuperBowl. The hotels were completely booked.
The town of Maastricht.
The opening day is attended by thousands, and features frequent hors d’oeuvres and champagne (and liquor) throughout the day. The center which houses the fair is vast and provides enough room for the crowds and for them to build what is the equivalent of a large village of art and antique galleries under one roof.

Under these circumstances, and amidst some of the greatest connoisseurs and collectors in the world along with the rest of us hoi-polloi and emerging tycoons, it’s a fabulous party to attend. And so civilized, surrounded as you are by the most spectacular art and artisanship known to modern civilization. This is what we are missing if we don’t attend.

We were fortunate to have our colleague Roger Webster attending however, and he has provided us with images of many of the exhibitors’ galleries on the opening day. We’re going to provide more coverage of TEFAF on Monday and Tuesday as well.
"The Park of the Hospital Saint-Paul" by Vincent Van Gogh painted after he committed himself to a mental hospital can be bought for 2m million Euros at Dickinson. Richard Green.
Half of a six-leaf screen pained with Chinoiseries by Jacques Vigourex-Duplessis circa 1730 at J. Kugel.
Baron Bernheimer at Bernheimer-Colnaghi Fine Old Masters.
Adriano Ribolzi.
Above, l. to r.: John Endlich; Littleton & Hennessy.
A la Vielle Russie.
Clockwise from above, left: Janssens van der Maelen Francis; Agnew; Richard Green.
Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz.
Clockwise from above, left: Daxer & Marschall Kunsthandel; Ivo Bouwman; Arnoldi-Livie.
W.M. Brady & Co.
Stoppenbach & Delestre.
Martyn Gregory.
Jean-François Heim.
Galerie Neuse.
Clockwise from above, left: French & Co.; Bresset & Tenschert; Galerie Neuse.
Albrecht Neuhaus.
Albrecht Neuhaus.
Franz Bausback.
Clockwise from above, left: Grassi Studio; Schlichte Bergen; Richard Redding Antiques.
Peter Finer.
Bernard J. Shapero.
Kunsthandel A. H. Bies.
Clockwise from above, left: MacConnal-Mason Gallery; Kunstgalerji Albricht bv; Berko Fine Paintings.
Helmut H. Rumbler.
Kunsthandel P. de Boer.
Clockwise from above, left: Didier Aaron; Hablodt & Co.; Rafael Valls.
Derek Johns.
Leslie Smith.

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