Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A week from the Winter Solstice

A lone leaf along Central Park West. 3:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011. Another fair and mild, sunny day in New York yesterday, one week from the Winter Solstice.

The holiday parties are on in force right now. I had intended to make it to four of them last night but the objective was impossible given the time parameters for many of these parties (usually 6 to 8). I made it only to two.

At the Americas Society, Gaetana Enders hosted a concert and a dinner at the to celebrate her her birthday which is coming up in exactly one week. Gaetana explained to me that it was hopeless to gather a group of friends together just a few days before Christmas Eve, hence the week earlier date.
The Americas Society where Gaetana Enders' guests celebrated her birthday last night at a concert and dinner. The McKim, Mead and White designed house was completed for Percy Rivington Pyne a century ago. Between 1948 and 1963 it was occupied by the Soviet Mission to the UN. Margaret Rockefeller Strong de Larrain. Marquesa de Cuevas acquired it in 1965 and presented it to the Americas Society, saving it from destruction.
Alice Mason and Gaetana Enders. Mrs. Enders and Francis Assisi Chullikatt, JCD, doctor of Canon Law, currently Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in July 2010. He had previously served as Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan.
The evening was a musical celebration as music is a passion that has always given Gaetana harmony and joy. Her late husband Thomas Enders was US diplomat who served as Ambassador to Canada under President Ford, Ambassador to the European Community under Reagan, as well as Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to Spain under Ronald Reagan. His wife, the birthday girl, has a warm and generous personality and loves people. After her husband’s death at 64 in 1996, she became a correspondent for Hola/Hello magazines. She is one of those people who maintains a variety of close friendships and more than forty of them were present at the dinner.

The evening began with a concert at 7:15, performed by pianist Marouan Benabdallah who performed Liszt’s Sposalizio; Nocturne by Nabil Benabdeljalil, and Enrique Granados’ El Peleie. Pedro Henriques da Silva on the Guitar and Lucia Caruso on the Piano performed Francisco Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra; Isaac Albeniz’s Asturias; and Lucia Caruso/Pedro da Silva’s Folia.
Across the avenue on the northeast corner of 69th Street, the Union Club, designed by Delano and Aldrich and opened in August 1933. The Union Club is the oldest private club in New York.
From the Americas Society, I traveled ten blocks south on Park Avenue to the apartment of Jill Spalding who was hosting her annual holiday cocktail party. Jill, who is a writer and very active in New York social life always has a large but cozy crowd in her art filled apartment.

I made it just inside the door, signed the guestbook and was immediately in conversation with several people including Jeanne Lawrence (who writes our Shanghai Diary) and Sharon Bush whose daughter Lauren recently married David Lauren at his parents’ ranch in Colorado.

Firooz Zahedi and Beth DeWoody at Jill Spalding's holiday cocktail party last night.
Crowded cocktail parties are often easy for conversation and Jill Spalding’s guest list always includes a lot of interesting people. Everywhere I looked people were engaged in conversation. I remained in that same spot for the entire time as people passed by on their way out such as Suzette Smith, Betsy Perry, Judy and Archie Cox, and Beth DeWoody and Firooz Zahedi, by a little after 8 when I had to leave to go on to dinner, it looked as though few others were ready to leave – always a sign of a good party.

When I got home at 10:15 JH sent me the message that the Elizabeth Taylor auction could be viewed live on the Christie’s web site, and so curiosity got the best of me and I booted it up. It’s fascinating to watch the action in the Christie’s auction room with Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie’s jewelry department, conducting the auction, assisted by more than a dozen others on the Christie’s staff on the phones.

Last night was the first night of the sale of her jewelry. I just missed the sale of La Peregrina Pearl (see NYSD 12.12.11) which was purchased by Taylor in 1969 for $37,000. It fetched a sensational $11,842,500, which included the diamond and ruby necklace to which it was attached. A ruby and diamond ring from Van Cleef and Arpels sold for $4,226,500. The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara (an antique diamond tiara) also went for $4,226,500, and the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond Ring (formerly the Krupp Diamond) (see NYSD 12.7.11) which was purchased in 1968 for a then record price of $305,000, sold for $8,818,500.
Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie's New York Jewelry department, taking bids...
The winning bid: $7,800,000.
At the end of a long and spectacularly successful night ...
The final tally for the first night’s sale of her jewelry was more than $115 million.

This has got to be the most sensational auction of personal property ever, dwarfing the Jacqueline Onassis sale at Sotheby’s fifteen years ago, and the sale of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels.

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