Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finishing off the foliage

Central Park. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Another fair and mild day in New York. Still no overcoat weather although the weatherman is predicting some storms. If so, they will definitely finish off the foliage. Only a few days ago the trees were bursting with the color. Today walking up Fifth Avenue by the Sherman statue, I saw that many of the trees on the edge of the Park are suddenly barren. People are beginning to ask each other where they're going for Thanksgiving.
Entering Central Park at 85th Street and Central Park West.
The windows at Bergdorf are covered, and have been for the past several days. My lunch partner at Michael's commented on them. She said she hoped it didn't mean they were starting the Christmas holiday before Thanksgiving. Someone told me last night that it was true.

Last night I went down to Fifth Avenue and West 20th Street (upper downtown) to the 1st Dibs Gallery where they were hosting a book signing for Hermes Mallea, the architect and author now of Great Houses of Havana. Hermes is Cuban and it so happens I've been following this book ever since Hermes told me about it a couple of years ago. A lot of New Yorkers have friends who are of Cuban descent, many of whom emigrated here after the Revolution in the late 1950s.

There is definitely a "thaw" going on with Cuba these days. I know many people who have visited Cuba and often several times. Pax Quigley wrote a piece in NYSD about her trip to Cuba last year. Everyone comes away fascinated and many even more enthusiastic.
Hermes Mallea with his dandy cast of Cuban booksellers. Click to order or buy immediately at Archivia on 72nd and Lex.
Phil McCarthy and Jim Brodsky. Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti, who provided the Cuban costumes. Dynell and Chi Chi ran the shows at Jackie 60 in the hellacious early '90s in New York.
Another indication is the bookstore. More books are appearing about Cuba and especially books about its architectural history. Havana is the oldest city started by Europeans in the Western Hemisphere – in 1553 – only fifty years after Columbus landed.

The Castro regime, lasting as long as it has, has changed (or transformed, depending on who's looking at it) Cuba, and apparently forever. The exiles have accepted that at least to some degree. However, the "re-discovery" of Cuba with North Americans is less political than a reflection of the same allure Cuba always had: it's an enormous beautiful island, and with its historical background it beomes a culturally exotic resort in the Western Hemisphere. Any American under forty-five knows little or nothing about its past, the last fifty years of Cuba and the Bay of Pigs. It's all future now.
One of the party rooms last night at Hermes Mallea's book signing at 1st Dibs at 156 Fifth Avenue.
Hermes Mallea's book is a beautifully photographed look at some of the houses which belonged to the families of old Cuba – 18th through early 20th century. In it he includes many of the histories of those who built and lived in these houses. You want to go there and to see them. Evidently there are a lot of Americans visiting all the time now. There are a lot of tours run by cultural foundations and museums. They get booked up quickly, and demand is growing.

The book signing last night was a big party. There must have been a couple of hundred people – many friends of the author and his partner Carey Maloney. Amy Fine Collins was there. She went to college with Hermes and they were inseparable in those days. The canapés (honey glazed bacon strips, for example) were plentiful and so were the drinks. There was a big line of people who were waiting to have their book signed. Everyone was glad to be there and no one was in a hurry to leave. A great Monday night party in New York.
Cutty McGill looking over the author and the booksellers for a final shot. Behind, Johnny Dynell in the long line of people waiting to get their book signed.
Last Saturday night, The Marlborough and Steinitz Galleries held an opening of "Le Cabinet de Curiosities." Jill Lynne was there to cover it for NYSD.

"Curiouser and curiouser!" exclaimed Alice as she fell down the rabbit-hole. Indeed she might well have landed in this nouvelle "CABINET…

The Private Opening of Le CABINET de CURIOSITIES, a collaboration between the Marlborough Gallery and the French Steinitz Collection – celebrated for rare antiquities – was attended by a bevy of international luminaries, collectors and appreciators.
The office directory in Tribeca-based Mercantile Exchange Building, built in 1882 by Herman J. Schwarzmann with Buchman & Deisler.
Architect, Designer and Artist, the French-born Thierry W. Despont, conceptualized the installation – synthesizing rare 17th, 18th, and 19th century boiseries (paneling, developed in antiquity, to decoratively insulate cold rooms within stone houses), exceptional Steinitz antiques and paintings, and art from Marlborough's gifted Artists – the late Chilean Claudio Bravo, Spain's Manolo Valdes and Despont himself.

This extraordinary installation transports one into a realm of timeless beauty. Housed in New York City's historical Mercantile building at 6 Harrison Street in Tribeca, the exhibition features Despont's curious assemblages and fantastical creatures; Valdes' intriguing three-dimensional interpretations of Velasquez, Picasso; and Bravo's hyper-realist, trompe l'oeil paintings. Steinitz highlights include an 1810 Empire Table, upon which Napoleon Bonaparte etched his battle plans.
Despont's Installation, Faux Bookcases. "Wooden Lady" by Manolo Valdés.
The exhibition heralds a critical new trend in the exhibition of art – a return to the traditional manner in which Art was displayed within a contextual environment, including furnishings and decorative accessories.

My guest, Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald, President of O'Toole-Ewald Art Associates and Appraisers – remarked that the recent IFPDA Print exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory also reflected this movement. During the 1980s, when white-walled-gallery-exhibitions peaked, we chuckled about whether galleries were competing for the finest art or the whitest walls.

The exhibition continues through January 31, 2012. If you are an "up-towner" this experience is worth the trek downtown.
Architect, Designer & Artist Thierry W. Despont. Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald, President O'Toole-Ewald Art Associates.
Thierry W. Despont shows his latest Art-In-Progress to Maury Hopson, L. Harris and friend.
Benjamin Steinitz and Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald, President O Toole-Ewald Art Associates. Artist Michele Oka Doner in signature black cocoon-shaped dress with husband Fred.
Thierry W. Despont and Odile de Schietere.
Pierre Levai, President Marlborough Gallery. Craig Dix (right) and friend.
Designer Carlos Mota. Mr. and Mrs. Frederick D. Hill.
John Norwood. Ondine de Rothschild.
Will Cotton and Rose Dergan. Pilar and Juan Pablo Molyneux.
Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos. Artist Cindy Sherman.
Catching up. Last week at the fabled Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills, there was a book signing for Michael Gross and his new book, Unreal Estate; Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles. I love Los Angeles stories, as regular NYSD readers have figured out. Michael's book, which I am in the middle of, is no exception. I have many thoughts about it already but that's for when I finish and set them down. Many will remember his 740 Park best-seller which was similar. But different, of course, as it's LA which is like no place else on the planet.

Nancy Stoddart covered the party at Greystone for NYSD:

Michael Gross, author of 740 Park, Rogues Gallery and other books, came to Los Angeles last week and was feted at parties all over town. He also gave a reading to a packed house at Book Soup on Sunset.
The City of Beverly Hills (along with Luxe magazine) sponsored the moonlit book party held at Greystone, the mansion in Beverly Hills built in the late 1920s by oilman E.L. Doheny for his son E. L. Jr., and his family, which is now open to the public for special events.

Michael says he did this book because it was a way to return to writing about one of his passions: high-end real estate and the characters that buy it, build it, sell it, and lose it.

Los Angeles has a vastly different culture of wealth than New York's equally entertaining one. There is a wider range of characters than the denizens of the fancy Upper East Side buildings. Exclusivity is one of the big differences – in Los Angeles there is none. A pornographer or similarly shady character can have a mega-mansion in Bel Air right next door to a member of the Old Guard.
Steven Macallum Powers and Michael Gross.
Emma Rose Kong, Jackie Kong, Tristano Caracciolo, and Anna Caracciolo.
Suzanne Lanza and Ann Kirk. Jeanne and Robbie Anderson.
Try doing that at 740 Park -- although that building has had a few crooks who contributed to the recent financial meltdown. Unreal Estate has it all: movie stars, murders, strippers, pimps, playboys and Mafiosi alongside the founding members of Los Angeles society.

For example, the gated '70's development of Beverly Park is an epic story of mobsters, movie stars, crooked real estate developers, and Washington lobbyists. The only thing missing is Jimmy Hoffa's body.

There are so many fascinating stories in this densely packed book. Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of Sunset House (formerly 9481 Sunset Boulevard) recently bought the three contiguous lots surrounding their huge Beaux Arts palace for millions, just to have a grander entrance. The property, which fronts entirely on Sunset, has little privacy but, as Michael says: "She has no place to hide but then Linda is no shrinking violet."
Jill Collins, Tania Ferris, Bret Parsons, Jeff Hyland, and Guy Hackbarth.
Michael is a dogged researcher and the book is full of facts never divulged before. He even managed to track down Dolly Green's illegitimate daughter Diane Stockmar while delving into what happened to the $750 million dollar Green family fortune. Diane was living in obscurity in Oregon. She says that when she sued the estate, she feared for her life and ended up settling for $175,000.

The book is a great read for anyone wants to know more about the storied mansions located in the golden triangle of Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills and the history of Los Angeles itself.

Among the guests: Peter and Kacey Doheny McCoy (he was Reagan's chief of protocol and she is a granddaughter of E. L. Doheny Jr.)
Nancy Stoddart and Carolina de Portago. Diane Stockmar.
Firooz Zahedi. Joan Beck and Reggie Sully.
Will and Libby Doheny, Rex Ross III, grandson of Bel Air founder Alphonzo Bell, Robert and Andrew Medhizadeh, sons of the owner of Grayhall. (Lilli Medhizadeh's mother is sister of the three Elghanyian brothers who until recently owned Rockrose Development in NYC.)

Bridget and Michael Gless (descendants of Neil McCarthy, namesake of the McCarthy salad at the Polo Lounge, lawyer of Howard Hughes, Cecil B de Mille, Louis B. Mayer and longtime owner of 9481 Sunset, the current Resnick residence); Fawn Hall (widow of Danny Sugarman, author of Wonderland Avenue and No One Here Gets Out Alive – Michael was the first person to ever publish him in Rock magazine).
Jerry Cardinalle, Stacey Fields and Judy Fields Feder.
Ann Turkel. Bridget Gless and Michael Gross. Gigi Levangie Grazer.
Also, Jeff Hyland, realtor to the stars and partner of Rick Hilton at Hilton & Hyland; Richard and Sessa Johnson, former head of Page Six and now columnist at The Daily; Carla Kirkeby, daughter of former owner of the Beverly Hillbillies mansion in Bel Air. Jackie Kong Driver, director of cult classic Night Patrol and former wife of owner of 10060 Sunset, Bill Osco, who made the first full length scripted porn movie (dubbed "the boy prince of porn" by the LA Times in the 1970s); Suzanne Lanza, former supermodel; Gigi Levangie Grazer, author (The Starter Wife and Maneater) and ex-wife of Brian Grazer; Cari Beauchamp, Beverly Jackson, author Bret Parsons; author and architectural historian Carolina Portago, Dona Powell, former owner of Greenacres, Diane Stockmar, Steve MaCallum Powers, aging playboy former best friend of Hugh Hefner and former owner of Grayhall, Jeff Palmer, builder and current owner of former home of Burton Green, decorator Darrell Schmidt, photographer Jacques Silberstein and Princess Francesca Drommi Partello; photographer and former model Ann Turkel, Dimitri Villard, Annabelle Begelman, Vanna White, Robbie Anderson, grandson of founder of Beverly Hills Hotel, Jill Collins, Greystone board member, ex wife of Phil Collins and mother of Lily Collins; Decorator and interior designer David Netto, Michael and Joyce Ostin.
Michael and Lori Eisenberg with James and Robert Medhizadeh.
Joyce Arad. Jim Deutsch and Russell Kagan.
Peter and Casey Doheny McCoy, Michael Gross, and Libby and Will Doheny.
Sessa and Richard Johnson.
More catching up. Last Sunday, a week was a big birthday weekend for Angela Kumble as more than a hundred friends came out to celebrate the day. There was a luncheon hosted by Penny Drue Baird and a big black tie dinner at Doubles hosted by Angela's husband, Steven Kumble of Corinthian Capital.  

Among the guests celebrating Angela Kumble's birthday were Mathilde Cuomo; Maria Cooper Janis, who has just published a new book of photographs of her father Gary Cooper; Ambassador John Loeb and Sharon Handler, who are rumored to be married in two weeks in New York City; Pat Cook and Robert Nederlander of Nederlander Theaters; movie producer Roger Kumble, son of Steven Kumble who has produced movies such as "There's Something About Mary" and "Road Trip;" as well as Penny Drue Baird; and Fred DeLuca, founder of the Subway restaurant franchise.

Long time friend and neighbor, Valerie Simpson, widow of Nick Ashford, sang one of her hits, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" as everyone danced the night away. Guests dined on pear and goat cheese salad, chicken with Crimini mushrooms, Lemon Basil Risotto, and a beautifully decorated birthday cake from the kitchens of Doubles.
Roger Tellefsen, Roger Kumble, Angela Kumble, Christine Tellefsen, Mary Kumble, and Steven Kumble.
Steven Kumble, Angela Kumble, and Todd Kumble. Hon. Lynn Diamond and Angela Kumble.
Christine Tellefsen and Mary Kumble.
Mr. and Mrs. Laurence Cutler and Steven Kumble.
Valerie Simpson, Ron Marshall, and Angela Kumble. Robert Nederlander, Pat Cook, Maria Cooper Janis, and Angela Kumble.
Jaynne Keyes, Angela Kumble, and Michael Del Giudice.
Stephanie Cohen, Angela Kumble, and Bob Cohen. Steven Kumble, Liz DeLuca, Angela Kumble, and Fred DeLuca.
Penny Drew Baird, Angela Kumble, and Barbara Annis.
Hon. Frank Weisberg and Hon. Lynn Diamond.
Ambassador John Loeb and Sharon Handler. Sharon Sands and John Vivenezio with Mr. and Mrs. Pieter Taselaar.
Carol and Michael Weisman.

Photographs by Matthew Carasella (Kumble).

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