Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trying to stay cool ...

Staying cool in Central Park. 5:00 PM. Photo: JH.
August 6, 2009. A very hot day was yesterday in New York. We’ve seen worse. I hoping for a spritz to cool the sidewalks but no go.

It was Wednesday and it was Michael’s. And just who should show up the night before (Tuesday) at the town’s number one media restaurant with the husband the news has been reporting she was leaving ... but the former governor of Alaska and Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin was guest of Bob Barnett, the Washington lawyer who engineers those multi-million dollar book deals for politicians like Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. Ms. Palin dined on Maine Lobster and quaffed champagne. She’s gonna be rich if Mr. Barnett has anything to do with it.

Meanwhile back to yesterday's lunch, Silda Wall Spitzer of the Elliot Spitzer Spitzers, was there with her friend Lisa Linden.
My birthday dessert at Michael's.
She was lunching with Joanne Lipman, editor of the former Portfolio. Also mega-agent Jim Wiatt; literary agent Ed Victor, Francine LeFrak; Harriet Weintraub and Lauren Veronis, Pat Mitchell with Lynn (Mrs. Norman) Lear, Pat Duff, Gerry Byrne; Paxton Quigley and Gillian Miniter, Cindi Leive; Chris Meigher with Peter Lyden, Susan Lyne, Jim Abernathy, Candy Pratts Price. A whole lotta talkin’ goin’ on.

Money makes the world go round. If you saw yesterday’s Party Pictures of Super Saturday 12 you missed a little drama that occurred according to yesterday’s New York Post.

Laura and Lloyd Blankfein.
That clinking-clanking sound. According to the Post, Laura Blankfein, wife of Goldman Sach’s highly paid head honcho Lloyd Blankfein, went to the Super Sale that benefited the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund with her friend Susan Friedman (whose husband is also a honcho at GS). According to the Post, Mrs. B. and Mrs. F. arrived at the gate a few minutes before the opening at noon, only to find there was a line waiting to get in and they weren’t at the head of it. The girls hadn’t just bought the $650 entrance ticket but also bought lots of tables where the tickets were $833. A pretty penny, they spent.

Evidently these girls didn’t know it’s an old story. Super Saturday is legendary. Top designers donating stuff that goes for practically working-stiff prices. Everybody loves a bargain. Some would practically kill for it; and kid yourself not, and the rich covet a bargain. The only thing better is a freebie. Right? Right.

The Post said Blankfein and Friedman “balked” at waiting in line. Someone said ‘their behavior was obnoxious ... they were screaming.” God love ‘em. Allegedly Mrs. Blankfein in her enthusiasm said that “she wouldn’t wait with ‘people who spend less money than me.’” The-what’s-in-it-for-me department.

Now don’t forget, this is how the Post conveyed it. Stories like this always breed he-said/she-said. Not that the Post gets it wrong, oh never never never. God knows all New York picks it up in the morning and swears by it. But “screaming”? Maybe they were singing. Like nightingales. Or canaries.

The ladies finally got into the show three minutes after the opening bell at noon. Unfortunately no one found out what Mrs. B. actually bought or how much she actually spent. That could have been the real juice. Never mind, I bet her husband doesn’t know either.

The really good news is that the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund raised $3.4 million on Saturday, thanks to all their generous patrons and guests such as Mrs. Blankfein and Mrs. Friedman.

Princess Firyal of Jordan and Lionel Pincus
More Clinking-Clanking. And in the New York Observer, my perspicacious friend Max Abelson has reported that the Lionel Pincus/Princess Firyal relationship has been transformed into a nasty looking little battle over the money.

Just in case you didn’t know: Lionel Pincus was a Wall Street investment banker, head of a firm that was/is a family firm -- Warburg Pincus. The Warburgs and the Pincuses are members of the aristocracy of old world bankers. When I say aristocracy, I mean Old Guard, Old Traditions and Old Money.

Lionel, who is now very old and ailing with Alzheimers or something equally as impossible, is the quintessence of all those things. A very refined and gentle man, a kind and genteel man, he was also a devoted family man and long married to the same woman. The Pincuses had (at least) two sons. When Mrs. Pincus died quite a few years ago, after a difficult and painful illness, Lionel was heartbroken with grief. Many people knew this and sympathized because they couldn’t imagine how the man – then probably in his mid to late sixties – would make a life without her.

Then he met Firyal and began what seemed at the outset to be an unlikely match. Princess Firyal of Jordan, Her Royal Highness, seriously, and sister-in-law to the King Hussein. A nice Palestinian girl, Firyal, as she is known to her legions of friends all over the world. Firyal and her husband were eventually divorced although she was allowed to keep her HRH which she probably had no intention of ever giving up (i.e., by marrying). For a number of years, after her marriage broke up, she had a serious relationship with Stavros Niarchos. She was, it was said, his mistress and he gifted her with tens of millions including houses in London and Paris.

Take heed, the word mistress, in this sense, is far from the common lore. It has more to do with the word “courtesan” in the historic sense. Madame de Pompadour, Madame DuBarry, Mrs. Keppel. These women were notable for their portfolios of charm, wit and their ethereal talents with men. When Lionel Pincus met Firyal, a light went back on in his life. She introduced him to her world which is broad and rich and international. He was living again. She is also a very intelligent, very well-informed, politically astute woman who can hold her own in conversation on the most delicate political topics. Their relationship is proof that a Palestinian can live and love a Jew. And vice versa.

Princess Firyal of Jordan.
In other words, Firyal gave Lionel Pincus a new lease on life. And being the gentleman that he is/as/always has been, he demonstrated his ardor with a variety of gifts including real estate to maintain the lady in the style to which she had long been accustomed. He saw nothing wrong with that. It is also true, or has been said, maybe even in the Post, that Firyal is a very big spender. Mrs. Blankfein and Mrs. Friedman have nothing on her. It has been said that Lionel sometimes got a little “upset” by the bills. Sound familiar? Nevertheless, I know that when she wanted something he wanted her to have it.

I don’t think any of Princess Firyal’s friends or acquaintances, along with her detractors ever misunderstood what forged her relationship with Lionel Pincus, a man believed by some to be a billionaire. I doubt that Lionel Pincus misunderstood because he was not only an intelligent man and sensitive man. It was what forges most relationships in this world. It was what forged the relationship between Goldman Sachs and the US Treasury. What was surprising about this relationship was how sweet it was to see -- especially to see this man at the later time, now far from youth, be restored to be living again. Firyal did that for him.

But then Lionel got sick. For a long time Firyal looked after him, even taking him out to dine although he was departing. Now he is no longer accessible to anyone. It’s tragic just to consider, and it must be tragic for Firyal who was a loving partner to Lionel. And now it’s really about the money and who’s not going to have it. There is a court case going on downtown right now about the same subject. When it comes to Other People’s Money, everybody seems to know where it should go and to whom. I’m sure Lionel knew, but then fate stepped in.
The crowd in the garden of the townhouse of Charlotte Moss last night.
Last night at Charlotte Moss’ wonderful townhouse in the East 70s (see NYSD HOUSE), the Museum at FIT held its annual Couture Council Summer Party. It was a hot night in New York, and because the party was opened up into Charlotte’s garden, it wasn’t air-conditioned. Nobody cared; it was relaxed and chatty, with lots of ice for the drinks.
Looking up at the piano nobile of the Moss-Friedberg townhouse.
Madame Moss was standing in the foyer by the staircase greeting guests along with Valerie Steele (see NYSD HOUSE), the Museum’s director. The cocktail reception was hosted by Dr. Joyce Brown, President of FIT, Yaz Hernandez, Liz Peek, Sarah Wolfe, Couture Council Chairs, along with Steele and Moss. A sweet weekday August evening in New York.
Valerie Steele and Charlotte Moss Hamish Bowles Cece Cord, Jay Snyder, and Helen Lee Schifter
Claudia Lebenthal, Joni Evans, and Peter Miller Lady with a cig Albert Hage and Yaz Hernandez
Alexandra Lebenthal Cathie Hardwick Jeff and Liz Peek
Amy Fine Collins and Ralph Rucci Seersucker on a summer night. Lady with the OJ

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