Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Like a novel. Or a movie.

Basketball court. 6:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, September 20, 2011. Warm, pleasant day, yesterday, right into evening with rainclouds occasionally passing by, yet uninterested in washing the city’s streets and sidewalks. I took an umbrella when I went to lunch at Michael’s but didn’t need it.

Three of my lunch partners — there were five at table — had just come from "A Celebration of Life" memorial service at Temple Emanu-el for Casey Ribicoff who had died almost a month ago to the day, at age 89. She would have been 90 on December 5th.

Until she became ill with bronchial problems several months ago, Casey got around town daily. She had a big presence, sometimes like those girls who are (used to be) surrounded by bunch of boys at the school dance. She'd lunch at Michael's, dine at Donohue's or La Grenouille; shopped at Ralph Rucci where she acquired the costume that made her one of the most stylish ladies in New York.

She was a bit of an x-ray type like those girls of her day who practically starved themselves down to a size one. Although I never saw Casey push away the food on her dinner plate, and she liked a good burger with all the trimmings. She liked her Ketel One too, and her caviar. And her Marlboros.

As you can see from the program of her service yesterday, which was planned in its entirety by her, she had an eclectic selection of friends, age-wise and interest-wise. She was one of those people who was drawn to fame and the famous but always had her close chums who checked in regularly, as well as lunching and dining. This is often true of big city folk, especially women, who are ambitious and expansive.

Whether Casey appeared to be ambitious as a young woman is probable although unknown. But in retrospect, this little girl from Chicago, daughter of a real estate broker, born at the beginning of the 1920s, living until the end of the 2010s; a local girl who married a local lawyer in Chicago, and then moving on to a new life with a Miami architect; all before she married the distinguished U.S. Senator from Connecticut Abraham Ribicoff.

Then Casey became famous among the famous herself. And for good reason: she was curious and sincerely interested; and loved gathering information about the world she inhabited. Life was always very interesting for her personally; she was never bored.

She was a good looking woman, self-assured in her presence, determined in her gait, bright in her smile on greeting a stranger. She turned herself out with great taste and style. She was cozy with friends at table.

Yet she was also one of those people who was known in life by three distinctly different names at three different times. Lois, her birthname, then Mimi, and then Casey -- the last name of which came after her relationship with Senator Ribicoff started. This Casey hit a home run.

She was also one of those people who had the ability to leave the past behind and move on. This is not a popular notion in these times but her generation was taught that. Some learned it well. She was estranged for the last forty years of her life from her first born, a son, over some "discord" in the family. She also gave birth to a daughter during her first marriage, in her late twenties, and put her up for adoption, never to see her again, even when given the opportunity.

The Casey her friends knew was confident, gracious, easy to talk to, sympathetic, sensible, practical, and certain. Bill Blass, who was a close friend, made her the executrix of his Will because he trusted her implicitly. He knew she'd follow his directions and wishes. She was organized. When she was married to the senator, he was stickler for her keeping the books in detail, and Casey naturally met the challenge.

Blass knew that. She was charged with dispensing his millions to charities and to friends. She carried out his wishes with the devotion of a loving wife, and a good friend. Yet Blass would tell friends that "we never really know Casey" as if she were something of a mystery.

Her life wasn't mysterious. Her family and her issue and her long time friends all know about her life. She was a verbal woman, easy with self-exprsssion. She didn't have a problem showing disapproval or even anger if it were justified. She didn't lay it on people either. She lived well and even luxuriously, like a rich woman, and she wore the part with ease and flair. Yet there was the Casey that Blass referred to, the Casey that no one knew.

I don't doubt that all members of her family and her husbands and her birth family knew her well the way we all do in our personal lives. She was outgoing, and friendly by nature. They also knew her history of development. All of us have a History of Development. New York women like Casey Ribicoff can have especially interesting ones, because they are often shrewdly conscious, and develop by their natural ambition which in turn makes them creative. Like a novel. Or a movie.

Oh, and Casey even knew Meyer Lansky the Godfather of them all, from her days in Miami. She knew him rather well. I remember her telling about the modest apartment he lived in with his wife. She liked him. A movie; that life.

Meanwhile, other rocks and other ribbons. In the world of fabulous auctions that we see here in New York, Sotheby's New York Jewelry department set its 5th consecutive record sale result yesterday, with its auction of Important Jewels. Sales totaling $16,489,625 versus a $12.9/17.8 million estimate. It's the highest total for a fall sale of Important Jewels at Sotheby's New York, greater than last year's auction result — which was also a record at the time.
LOT 370

The emerald-cut diamond weighing 9.16 carats, flanked by modified triangular-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 3.20 carats, size 6¾.

Estimate: 500,000-700,000 USD
Sold for: 602,500 USD
LOT 536

The flexible openwork foliate band set with carved sapphires, rubies and emeralds, accented by emerald and sapphire beads, further set with old European-cut and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 7.00 carats, applied with black enamel, length 7½ inches, with worn partial signature for Cartier.

Estimate: 200,000-300,000 USD
Sold for: 842,500 USD

LOT 535

The emerald-cut diamond weighing 9.19 carats, flanked by triangular-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2.80 carats, size 6¾, signed Van Cleef & Arpels, numbered N.Y. 65563.

Estimate: 500,000-700,000 USD
Sold for: 656,500 USD
One of the biggest sales was the Cartier 'Tutti Frutti' bracelet that achieved $842,500 — almost three times its pre-sale high estimate. Thirteen bidders chased after the piece, which hadn't been attributed to Cartier for some time until Sotheby's rediscovered the faint signature of the legendary jeweler.

Yesterday's auction had an incredible 99% of sold lots meet or exceed their pre-sale estimates. Diamond prices reflected a solid market that appeared void of speculation.
LOT 533

The pendant set with a pear-shaped diamond of fancy intense blue color weighing 2.59 carats, surmounted by a marquise-shaped diamond weighing .92 carat, and a round diamond approximately .10 carat, completed by a platinum, link chain, length 17½ inches.

Estimate: 500,000-700,000 USD
Sold for: 782,500 USD
LOT 528

The pendant set with a square emerald-cut emerald weighing 49.21 carats, framed by pear-shaped and round diamonds weighing approximately 13.50 carats, suspended from a necklace half set with round diamonds weighing approximately 16.25 carats, and half set with pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 18.00 carats, length 15½ inches, pendant detachable and can be worn as a brooch.

Estimate: 150,000-200,000 USD
Sold for: 338,500 USD
All in the Fashion. Doug Hannant and Fred Anderson revived the after fashion show luncheon at the Palm Court last Wednesday, following the Douglas Hannant Spring 2012 show in the famed Terrace Room adjacent to the Palm Court.
The luncheon was hosted by the Plaza's General Manager Shane Krige. Among the guests were Muffie Potter Aston, Alina Cho, Jill Fairchild, Patricia Clarkson, Fern Mallis, Lydia Fenet, Alexandra Lebenthal, Beth Rudin De Woody, Pamela Gross, Vicky Ward, Gillian Miniter, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Hearst's Deb Shriver, Anne Keating of Bloomingdale's, Mark Gilbertson, Adelina Wong Ettelson, Matthew Mellon and Nicole Hanley, Edward Tricomi, Jamee Gregory and Geoffrey Bradfield.
Kimberly Guilfoyle. Douglas Hannant and Patricia Clarkson.
Hilary Geary Ross, Cece Cord, Alexandra Lebenthal, and Somers Farkas.
Muffie Potter Aston and Alexandra Lebenthal. Jamee Gregory and Audrey Gruss.
  Cristina Cuomo. Bettina Zilkha.
Fern Mallis. Jeanne Shafiroff, Cece Cord, and Vicky Ward.

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