Thursday, April 29, 2010

Very chilly Spring day; warmed by the action

A lone tulip bends to Mother Nature on the sidewalks of Manhattan. 2 PM. By late afternoon, this tulip had opened up.
April 29, 2010. Partially sunny and bright, partially cloudy, but a very chilly Spring day yesterday in New York.

Down at Michael’s they’d turned up the heat;
the place was buzzing. One table: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry della Femina, Michael Kramer, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman were entertaining Geraldine Fabrikant (also Gerry – to her friends) of the New York Times, and giving her a laugh a minute; Peter Brown with Dan Scheffey; Jack Myers any Company – Greg Coleman, Eric Hippeau, Phil Cara, Jack Haber, Pattie Glod and Nick Utton; and right nearby Michael’s Mayor Joe Armstrong with Wayne Lawson of Vanity Fair and Punch Hutton; Catherine Saxton and KiptonArt’s Kipton Cronkite; funny lady Susan Silver; Ken Starr (the one who made life hell for Bill Clinton); Fredi Friedman; Joan Gelman with Sandy Pearl; Lisa Linden and Linda Hanick; James Chanos, the hedge fund wizard who’s been predicting, against almost all others, a Big Crunch and Crash for China’s “hyperstimulated” economy; Harold Ford Jr., former Congressman, he who has been considering running for the Senate seat now occupied by Kristen Gilliland; Frederick De Narp of Harry Winston; Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman and guest, Gail Atkins entertaining Jessie Araskog, Alex Hitz, Amy Fine Collins, Gillian Miniter, Somers Farkas, Joanne de Guardiola and Dana Hammond; Jared Kushner with Steve Geller; CNN’s political analyst Robert Zimmerman; Katherine Farley; Bevery Camhe; plus over at Table 8, this writer was with Alexis Maybank, founder of Gilt Groupe, Allison Rockefeller and Leslie Stevens, all of whom had gathered together to tell me about the upcoming Audubon’s Women in Conservation luncheon at the Plaza May 18th where they will present the Rachel Carson Award to Isabella Rossellini, Suzanne Lewis (superintendent of Yellowstone National Park), Dr. Beth Stevens, Disney exec in charge of environmental affairs for Disney Worldwide, and Tiffany Foundation’s Fernanda Kellogg. This is a major luncheon on the annual Spring Calendar. To purchase tickets, click here.
Alexis Maybank, DPC, Allison Rockefeller, and Leslie Stevens at Michael's.
84th Street between East End and York Avenues, 3:10 PM.
Last night in New York. I went down to the Pierre where Barbara de Portago and the Versailles Foundation/Claude Monet Giverny was hosting its annual benefit in the presence of HRH, The Prince Jean d’Orleans, Duc de Vendome, Dauphin of France and HRH la Duchesse de Vendome.

The Versailles/Giverny dinner is always host to a royal personage and the guest of honor always gives a brief, but enlightening, talk about his or her family and country’s royal history. The duke is descended from Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orleans, Duc d’Orleans who supported the French Revolution (and was known as Philippe Egalite) and eventually went to the guillotine in 1793, not long after his cousin, the king, Louis XVI, whom he opposed almost from the beginning of Louis’ reign.

The invitation.
NYSD readers might recall Monday’s diary about Empress Josephine and her cellmate Grace Dalrymple Elliot who was imprisoned and destined for execution because of her affair with Phillipe Egalite. Phlilippe’s son Louis-Phillipe d’Orleans, the great-great-great-great grandfather of last night’s guest of honor, became King of the French in 1830 and was deposed in 1848.

Mrs. de Portago’s relationship to the French and the Bourbon and d’Orlean royals comes through her mother and stepfather, Florence and Gerald Van der Kemp. The Van der Kemps set up the Versailles Foundation in the 1960s to raise funds for the restoration of the principal galleries and apartments of the Sun King’s palace. Many of his supporters were Americans beginning with the Rockefellers, Barbara Hutton, Estee Lauder, as well as Wildensteins, Rothschilds, Pierre David-Weil, the Aga Khan and Arturo Lopez-Wilshaw, to name only afew of its benefactors.

In 1977, Mr. Van der Kemp was asked by the French government to restore Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny where he did his famous water lily studies. Mr. Van der Kemp died at age 89 in 2002 and his wife died last year in her early 90s, leaving Barbara with the task of running the foundation and raising funds for its work. Last night’s dinner was for supporters and new benefactors and was sponsored by Gillian Spreckels Fuller, the American heiress whose parents had also been benefactors of the Van der Kemps' work.
Barbara de Portago with HRH The Prince Jean d'Orleans and his princess, the Duchesse d'Orleans. Barbara de Portago and Gillian Fuller.
The artists chosen for fellowships at Giverny (by Beth Rudin DeWoody): Ted Lee, Michelene Thomas, Beth DeWoody, Mark Fox, and E. V. Day.
Sydney Oliver and Steve Tanger. Sabrina Forsythe with Donald and Barbara Tober.
Margo Langenberg and Fred Koch. Lucia Hwong Gordon and Janna Bullock.
Also last night, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, the high-end Italian winemaker, hosted a dinner to debut its 2007 vintage and raise money for the museum's Conservation Program.

The night began in the museum's lobby, where guests (the event was by invitation only - no tickets were sold) mingled and sipped champagne. At 7:30 p.m., everyone moved downstairs for the dinner and auction portion of the evening. Catered by Danny Meyer's Hudson Yards Catering, the quality of the food was a pleasant surprise.

Meyer is opening a restaurant in the museum in the fall, and for the time being he operates Sandwiched, a pop-up cafe there that offers selections created by the chefs at his various restaurants around town.
Bettina and Don Bryant. Amy Phelan and Barbara Gamson.
Alessandro Lunardi and Dr. Lisa Airan. Axel Heinz.
Last night's dinner began with Grilled Prawns with Fennel and Tomato, which were paired with Ornellaia's Poggio Alle Gazze 2008, a white wine. Then we moved onto Wild Mushroom and Quail Risotto and Le Serre Nuove Dell'Ornellaia 2007, the "second vin" of Ornellaia and younger sibling to the winemaker's flagship Ornellaia. The main course was Pan-roasted Lamb Loin and Braised Shank with Spring Vegetable Navarin, which went with the star of the night, Ornellaia 2007. The vintage, a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc dubbed "L'Armonia" ("Harmony") by the winemaker, turned out to be a real win for the museum.

Jamie Ritchie, head of wine for Sotheby's North America, was adroitly able to wrangle the crowd into spending $157,000 in the live auction, which consisted solely of Ornellaia 2007 in lots of various sizes. Perhaps even more impressive than the wine itself were the auction bottles' one-of-a-kind labels, designed by artists Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh. The labels, which, when combined, compose the phrase Happily Ever After, are part of the 2007 edition of the Vendemmia d'Artista program and correspond to a site-specific garden installation in front of the entrance to the Ornellaia winery in Italy.
Giovanni Geddes, Rosaria Frescobaldi, and Gelasio Gaetani Lovatelli D'Arogona.
Francesca Forcella and Veronica Bulgari. Jamie Ritchie of Sotheby's.
Among the crowd: Mr. and Mrs. Marchese Ferdinando Frescobaldi, Ghada Amer and Reza Farkondeh, Actor Alan Rickman, Whitney Biennial curator Francesco Bonami, Whitney Museum of American Art Trustee Tom Tuft, collectors John and Amy Phelan, Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo, Veronica Bulgari and Stefan Haimo, Dana Hammond and Dr. Patrick Stubgen, Michael and Tara Rockefeller, Shirin Von Wulffen and Frederic Fekkai, Dr. Lisa Airan, Gelasio Gaetani Lovatelli d’Aragona, Sotheby’s Chairman of Worldwide Contemporary Art Tobias Meyer, and Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art Adam Weinberg.

— SD for NYSD
Gilles Bensimon, Dana Hammond, and Dr. Patrick Stubgen.
Alan Rickman. Amy and John Phelan.
On Tuesday, May 4, Christie’s Rockefeller Center will hold the first part of their May evening sales with the Impressionist and Modern Art collections of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody and the late author Michael Crichton, both of Los Angeles.

Frances Lasker Brody, the daughter of Albert Lasker, the grandfather of American advertising, and her husband Sidney were prominent Los Angelenos whose collection was housed in their Quincy Jones (the architect, not the musician) designed villa in Holmby Hills until her death last November.

The Brodys were a popular couple in Los Angeles social life moving seamlessly among the art crowd, the film colony and old Los Angeles – three groups who rarely intermingled. Mr. Brody, a businessman and real estate developer, was a big, bright ebullient fellow and his wife, known as Francie to her friends, was recognized for her intelligence and her chic. It was often said that when she was a young girl her mother had told her she would never be beautiful so she should learn to dress well. This she did.
View of sitting room (objects listed left to right):

Edgar Degas sculptures (on table top; ballerina at left to be retained by the Brody estate; to the right is Degas’ La Masseuse, bronze with green and black patina, conceived circa 1896-1911; this bronze version cast in an edition of twenty-two, estimate: $300,000-400,000)

Georges Braque’s La Treille, oil and sand on canvas, painted in 1953-1954, estimate: $3-5 million

Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, oil on canvas, completed 8 March 1932 , estimate: $70-90 million (on wall in room beyond, next to piano)

Alberto Giacometti’s Grande tête mince, bronze with dark brown patina, conceived in 1954 and cast in 1955, estimate: $25-35 million. Positioned on a pedestal custom-designed by William (Billy) Haines

Georges Rouault’s Le Cirque, oil on paper laid down on board, painted in 1942, estimate: $250,000 - 350,000 (on wall under stairs to the right of the Giacometti sculpture)

• A pair of Tang Dynasty horses (not for sale; to be retained by the Brody estate)
Lot 13
Grande tête mince
signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 3/6' (on the front); stamped with foundry mark 'Susse Fondeur' (on the reverse)
Height: 25 ½ in. (65 cm.)
Conceived in 1954
Estimate: $25,000,000-35,000,000
Christie's Images Ltd. 2010
Lot 4
Le Chat
signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 3/8' (on the base); stamped with foundry mark 'Susse Fondeur' (on the base)
Length: 31 ½ in. (80 cm.)
Conceived in 1951
Estimate: $12,000,000-18,000,000
Christie's Images Ltd. 2010
The interior of the Brody house was done by William (Billy to his friends) Haines, who did a lot of interiors for the denizens of West Los Angeles including the Holmby Hills mansion of another famous art collecting couple, William and Edith Mayer (Bill and Edie) Goetz -- although no one ever questioned the striking individuality of both couples’ taste in art despite the identifiable imprimatur of Billy Haines’ interiors which were High ‘50s filmland. In both cases, however, the art was well integrated into the life style and tastes of its owners – the Brodys being the more modern of the two.

The Brody residence, while being awesomely impressive – with a commissioned mural for the house’s atrium by Matisse himself (his first one was rejected by Mrs. Brody) – was also very comfortable, as well as elegant, and without pretense despite the trappings – which would describe perfectly the couple as host and hostess who were recognized and admired for their welcoming hospitality and intelligence. The public preview opens tomorrow, April 30th and is not to be missed by art lovers.
Games area

• A Gemutlich games table and set of four open armchairs, designed 1950 by Haines, table with leather clad top and walnut base, chairs with leather, walnut and brass accents

• Chandelier by Haines, designed in 1950, painted metal and iron
Lot 6
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust
Signed ‘Picasso’ (upper right)
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 in. (162 x 130 cm.)
Completed on 8 March 1932
Estimate: $70-90 million
Christie's Images Ltd. 2010
View of the dining room

• An extension dining table of stained walnut and brass, designed 1950 by Haines

• Wall-mounted console with leather clad top, lacquered wood, Lucite and brass accents, designed 1950 by Haines

• A set of 18 dining chairs in stained walnut and leather, designed in 1950 by Haines

• Chinese export dinner service, late 18th century
View of sitting room and atrium (door at right slides closed). Same as above, plus:

• Chair, ottoman, and side table in foreground, designed 1950 by William (Billy) Haines, vinyl and painted iron

View of Library:

• Shelving custom designed by William (Billy) Haines

• A tiered table lamp, designed 1950 by Haines, crafted of Lucite, with bronze sculptures by Honore Daumier on each tier

Honore Daumier (1808-1879)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 7.1/2 in. (19.1 cm.)
Estimate: $15,000 - 20,000

Honore Daumier (1808-1879)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 5.3/4 in. (14.6 cm.)
Estimate: $15,000 - 20,000

Honore Daumier (1808-1879)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 6.3/4 in. (17.1 cm.)
Estimate: $15,000 - 20,000

Henri Matisse, Nu au coussin bleu, oil on canvas, painted in 1924 (on wall)

• A set of four open armchairs (only one pictured), designed 1950 by Haines, velvet upholstered, walnut

• A circular Gemutlich coffee table, designed in 1950, leather and brass (partially pictured)
Right: Lot 22

HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
Nu au coussin bleu
Signed ‘Henri Matisse’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 1/3 x 23 in. (72 x 58 cm.)
Painted in 1924
Estimate: $20,000,000-30,000,000
Christie's Images Ltd. 2010
Outdoor courtyard

• Matisse tile mural
• All furniture custom designed by Haines, 1950
Door pull

Stylized ram door pulls (six total), gilt metal, 12 in high each, designed 1950 by Haines and located throughout the house
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Interior Photography: Kate Carr Photography (Christie’s).
Comments? Contact DPC here.