Friday, February 25, 2011

Native to New York

Hudson River. 4:10 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, February 25, 2011. Yesterday was cold and overcast with a light rain in the evening.

At noontime, over at Doubles, the private club in the Sherry Netherland, Clinton Howell, the president of the Art and Antique Dealers League, hosted a luncheon to celebrate the inaugural Spring Show New York City, which opens with a gala benefit preview for the ASPCA on April 27th at the Park Avenue Armory.

The show, with 60 prominent fine and decorative arts specialists, has been organized by the Art and Antique Dealers League of America and sponsored by For that date, Mayor Bloomberg will issue a proclamation announcing Art and Antiques Week in New York with the new fair at the heart of it. Lars Bolander will add his magic touch to create the fair’s mise-en-scene.
David Gursky, Michael Franks, and Clinton Howell.
Jaimee Bloom, Sean O'Connor, and Ellen Scarborough. Bart Boehlert and Mario Buatta.
Michelle Tillou, Lisa Schiller, Clinton Howell, and James Andrew.
Carol Prisant and Helen Fioratti.
Robert Israel and Catherine Sabino.
Among those who attended the lunch were Mario Buatta, Ellen Ward Scarborough, Helen Fioratti, George Subkoff, Robert Israel, Stacy McLaughlin, Michelle Tillou, Wendy Moonan, Laura Beach, James Andrew, Danny Sager, Alexandra Peers, Michael Franks, Rachel Karr, Catherine Sabino, Margaret Tao, Joel Frankel, Robert Simon, Lisa Schiller, Marilyn White, Carol Prisant, Jaimee Bloom, Tony Freund, Sean O’Connor, Doris Athineos, Leon Dalva, Melissa Feldman, Julia Noran, Jeannan Al-Hamdouni, Peter Trippi, Jackie Cooperman, Jackie Cooperman, Marisa Marcantonio, Bart Boehlert, Bobbie Leigh, Valerie Gladstone, Betsy Pochoda, and Barbara Dixon.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
are the Honorary co-chairs of the Connoisseurs Committee and are joined by Committee co-chairs Michael Bruno, Mario Buatta, Celerie Kemble, Brian McCarthy, Miles Redd, Ellen and Chuck Scarborough, Michael Smith, Bunny Williams, Vicente Wolf, and this writer. To learn more, visit
While I was lunching at Michael's, at table one in the bay, was this couple. Steve Millington, the GM, came to my table and said: gimme your camera. I gave it to him and he came back with these two shots. Isn't it interesting how those two, with just their faces and the way they look at the camera, can make you laugh. And feel so much better, even if it's just for the moment. Hooray for Stiller and Meara.
Meanwhile, over at Michael’s I met up with Heather Mnuchin who had just flown in from Los Angeles which she and her husband Steven now make their main residence. Both Heather and Steven are native New Yorkers.

Our meeting was ostensibly about The (17th annual) Evening of Practical Magic benefiting City Harvest that will take place on Wednesday, April 13th at Cipriani 42nd Street.

The Mnuchins have been involved with City Harvest for a long time. Heather told me yesterday that it started with Steve. He was a kid out of business school and working for Goldman Sachs when one day he saw an ad in the New York Times about how $100 could feed six families that night through the auspices of City Harvest. He was so impressed he sent them a check for $1000. That was the beginning for him. In time he became a member of the board.

Steve and Heather Mnuchin.
Heather came to their marriage with a sense of volunteering and philanthropic work. When she was growing up, her mother was Director of Volunteers for St. Luke’s Hospital, and later for other hospitals here in New York. By the time she was 12 or 13, her mother was taking her and her sister along with on work projects. The girls learned then to practice the anointed art of volunteerism. I say “anointed” because, as anyone who has ever volunteered knows, ultimately the experience, no matter how challenging, is a blessing for all involved.

Eating. Food. Is now a major challenge in the world, in our city and in our society. 43 million Americans are now receiving food stamps in order to feed themselves and their families. Those of us who have come close to, or actually experienced the state of hunger know that NOTHING is more important in the natural subsistence of the human body and the human spirit.

Getting back. Three years ago or so, the Mnuchins set up a $1 million “challenge” grant to City Harvest, requiring the raising of an additional million. The goal was met and with the funds, they made the entire 17 delivery truck fleet “green.”

Steven is no longer on the board of City Harvest, his wife having taken his place. She has also made it her business to work on the annual Evening of Practical Magic. When she started working on this several years ago, they were bringing in about $400,000 for the evening. This year they will bring in about $1.3 million. Barclays is underwriting the entire evening so everything they raise will go straight to City Harvest and feeding our neighbors who need the assistance.

These are just large numbers to most of us but what is important to consider is that they will directly affect the welfare of many of our neighbors and brothers and sisters. Heather Mnuchin with her bred-into-her know-how assembled a great group of men and women who make the evening the success it is. They expect 500 to 600 guests at Cipriani that night. To learn more about it please call 917-351-8725, email, or visit

The Plaza last night. 11 PM.
Last night in New York one of the best parties of the year took place at the Plaza – the Director’s Council of the Museum of the City of New York hosted its 25th annual Winter Ball. Black tie.

This evening which is the baby of Mark Gilbertson, the now-veteran social impresario of the once-upon-a-time junior social set of New York. I make those distinctions because it is interesting to have observed the coming of age of the core of this group who’ve all grown up.

Many of its members have been active on the social and gala benefit scene since their early 20s when many of them were still single. Almost two decades later, the core of this group remains, and under Gilbertson's aegis, they pull together this glamorous fundraiser for the Museum, among other things.

The museum is one of the city’s secret treasures. Part of its secret has been its location – 104th Street and Fifth Avenue, across from the Park. The Director’s Council, however, has worked hard at raising funds and marketing the museum, and with great success. The National Jewelry Institute’s exhibition last fall of couture and jewels of prominent women of the last century was hugely popular and tripled their weekly visits. This is the direction the Museum is headed in.

Meanwhile back at the Ball.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people seated and with a dance floor in the Plaza’s grand ballroom. They were practically hanging off the rafters. A big glam crowd. The women were turned out in evening gowns, the men in black tie. Someone told me Gilbertson personally seated the five hundred or more guests because everyone seemed to be seated near someone he/she knew as well as someone she/he’d never met before.
The Plaza grand ballroom last night at the Museum of the City of New York's Winter Ball.
So conversation abounded. And then, right after the main course, the music started. And then they danced the night away. The last great ball of the winter season in New York.

I took a bunch of candid shots, but too many for todays’ diary, so here are just a few with a lot more on Monday. There were no speeches, no auctions, no honorings, no special performances (except Gilbertson’s brief remarks, surrounded by his co-chairs -- including the aforementioned Heather Mnuchin). Just cocktails followed by dinner in the ballroom, and then dancing. Thursday night in New York.

It was raining lightly when I left the Plaza about 11 PM.
Frederick Anderson and Natalie Leeds.
Tracy Snyder. Alexandra Lebenthal and Jay Diamond.
Jackie Williams, Charlie Ayres, and Mark Gilbertson.
Gillian and Sylvester Miniter with Allison Rockefeller.
Susan Gutfreund and Mario Buatta.
Todd Romano, Nina Griscom, and Leonel Piraino.
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Photographs by Ann Watt (Doubles)
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