Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How was your weekend?

Cantral Park at 103rd Street. 4:15 PM. Photo: JH.
September 8, 2009. A really beautiful weekend in the Northeast, in Manhattan, out on the East End of Long Island.

The Hamptons were having their swansongs -- end of season parties, and there were lots of them. Over in East Hampton Jo Carole and Ron Lauder had a dinner for the weekend guests, Alma and Colin Powell. In another part of the same forest, John and Joan Jakobson were having their annual get together, and Jody and John Eastman were entertaining their brother-in-law Paul McCartney.

This year, however, there are noticeable changes reflected by the state of the economy even in sleepy ole Southampton, where houses have been selling for tens of millions in the past few years.

Although, Tory Burch bought
from her ex-husband Chris, the house she shared with him on the beach in Southampton. She reportedly paid more than $20 million for it. He is fortunate to have such a successful and rich ex-wife because there are For Sale signs everywhere including in the exclusive “Estate Section” of this ultra-wealthy summer community. Tory’s plan is reported to be to tear the place down and put up something more spectacular.

The beach at Sagaponack.
The town is quieter too, and business is off for a lot of purveyors (and not as much for others). And the rich are still rich enough to give parties. But there is an atmosphere of uncertainty that is palpable. Are they cutting back, people ask. Possibly but only sort of. Lally Weymouth, the Washington Post heiress gives a big dinner dance every year at her house, reportedly had a DJ instead of a band this year.

Last Friday night, Jenny and John Paulson had a dinner at their new house on First Neck Lane. Mr. Paulson, you may remember clocked about $3 billion for himself in about ten minutes after the Subprime Mortgage Market tanked and became a genius overnight. He had long been well known in his field as an investor/hedge fund guy, but Subprime gave him an entirely different context.

Mrs. Paulson, it is said, is a very positive influence in her husband’s life. Evidently before she came along he was breezing along with the breeze and living the Wall Street bachelor’s life. And all that that entails. But then along came Mrs. and before he knew it, the bottom dropped out for millions of people and John Paulson made billions of dollars for himself and all his clients.

Anyway, all that to tell you that the Paulsons gave a party on Friday night. The party was originally intended for the week before, but then we were suddenly supposed to get that big hurricane. Remember? Danny? So they moved the date to this weekend. Originally on a Saturday too. BUT.

But Saturday night was also the night set for one of the town’s more prominent hostesses, a lady who’s been a Southampton resident for many many moons. And gets around. And is well-residenced herself.
The Southampton home of Jenny and John Paulson. Photo was taken when it belonged to Don Burns and Greg Connors.
The Paulsons bought their $40 odd million estate only in the last couple of years. They’re new in town. However, they are the Paulsons and he evidently has the Midas Touch. An invitation to their house might take precedent over the invitation to someone else’s party. These things happen. So this particularly perspicacious socially prominent hostess of many moons called her new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. P., and kindly asked them if they’d kindly change the date of their party. And someone said yes. The good neighbor policy.

The Paulsons’ estate is a beauty, a historic house built in 1911 by a prominent New York architect named Goodhue Livingston. In the days of the Goodhue Livingstons, the swells who went to Southampton went for the birdhunting season and some of the summer. Until then, the land was barren and practically treeless. The property has ten acres and fronts on Lake Agawam (which is very picturesque although one of the most polluted bodies of water on the entire East End).

The house in 1911.
The Livingston house was substantial – 20,000 square feet – and beautifully finished. The house was acquired from another family – The Shaheens in the late 90s by Donald Burns, a telecommunications mogul, one of the few who made an enormous fortune during the dotcom boom and had the mind to keep it. Don Burns paid somewhere around $20 million for the place and completely restored it to the original owner/designer’s plan.

The Paulsons’ next door neighbors are the Walter Noels, who also live in one of the grand old houses (this one a Stanford White house) on Lake Agawam. So the party on Friday night (sorry for the historical digression) was what one guest referred to as The Blue Blazer crowd. Dignified, in a tent, beautifully presented. The Last Rose of Summer.

Meanwhile over in Sagaponack, Marcia and Richard Mishaan hosted a party that was a combination of their last Friday night in summer for friends, and a party for the guests who attended Peggy Siegal’s sneak screening for Lionsgate’s “Precious,” what Peggy calls “an amazing new film about to break out." (The film opens November 6th and will be in the Toronto Film Festival next week.)

Directors Joel Schumacher, Bob Balaban, Bob Benton and Terry George hosted the screening for its director Lee Daniels at Goose Creek.
Richard Mishaan, Tricia Quick, and Michael Morelli
Helen Lee Schifter and Patrick McMullan
Dr. Harold Koplewicz, Linda Sirow, Anne Keating, Marty Halbfinger, Lynn Halbfinger, and Iris Marden
Andy Sportsforzini, Xosha Roquemore, Dennis Basso, and Lee Daniels
Princess Alexandra of Greece and Nicholas Mirzayantz
Enter the Mishaans. After the screening the guests moved on to the Mishaans. This was one of those parties that just clicked. Someone called it the party of the season. And it wasn’t fancy. However, it was a good mix, a kind of artsy/social/with kids crowd. Tory Burch and Lyor Cohen came with Kanye West and his model girlfriend Amber Rose. A hit party? Done. Then there was Ross Bleckner, Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, Dick Cavett, Dennis Basso and a good dose of the social crowd. There was dancing in the foyer and great food put out by Alison Becker, the rising Private Catering Star on the social benefit circuit. The menu was local and fresh.

So they danced and they gnoshed and they gabbed and they danced. And Patty Smith and John McEnroe came with their kids and the Shifters came with their daughter. “The food was terrific and people actually ate,” according to one happy camper.

Not surprising. The Mishaans are very relaxed hosts, very comme ci comme ca, as they used to say. The Mishaan residence was designed by the host. And interior designed by the host. Chic but comfortable but stylish and so comfortable. Friendly guests. Dancing like lunatics.

Dana and Patrick
On Saturday night in Southampton, Patrick and Dana Hammond Stubgen held their annual summer bash. Dana goes for the headliners to entertain their guests. This year’s surprise entertainment was Mickey Avalon, a popular rapper from Hollywood, California.

Mr. Avalon, born Yeshe Perl (it happens) made a debut solo alum that was released two years ago and he’s been hot ever since. LA Weekly described him thusly: Mickey Avalon is a troubled addict and an unquestionable skank, but a shockingly gifted rap humorist. None of this is unknown by his fans.

So goes the world, so goes Southampton. The Hammond Stubgen party is a big family party as they are a very popular couple on the New York/Southampton/Palm Beach social axis. Dana has sons, late teens, early twenties by an earlier marriage to James Hammond, and a young daughter with Dr. Stubgen.

The guest list including Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney who came with their houseguest Brooke Shields, Keith and Ann Barish, Debby and John Loeffler, Robert Zimmerman, Rick and Kathy Hilton, Debbie Bancroft, Mark Gilbertson, Laila and Henry Heller, Nancy Silverman, Katherina Otto and Nathan Bernstein, Dayssi and Paul Kanavos, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Bettina Zilkha, George Soros, Patricia Duff, Jay and Tracy Snyder and hundreds more just like ‘em. Plus a lot of young people since many of these people have young families.

And Mickey Avalon. Well. If you don’t think that didn’t make an impression! As someone described the scene, hyperbolically of course, “a male prostitute, a drug dealer, user, covered in tattoos with two half-naked girls in fishnet stockings dancing with him.” Sounds like the movie, no? Meanwhile all those boarding school preppie boys who are part of this set, were enthralled, in heaven, mouthing the words as he rapped his songs (did I get that right?).

A hit party? Done. The Stubgens are also oenophiles so they are famous for the wines served at dinner. Fantastic wines. In a tent by the house, done by the great Bill Tansey. Dinner was served after ten. The main attraction came on about 11:30. And when he was finished about an hour later, the man got in a golf cart and was transported off down the road to find his cars because and the band had another gig (this was about one a.m.) in another part of the Hamptons.

How was your weekend?
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