Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Almost cold in New York

Fifth Avenue. 11:00 AM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, October 9, 1012. After a grey and rainy Columbus Day weekend, it was very chilly, almost cold in New York.

Sometimes, in the hottest days of summer I would remind myself that in the not far off autumn there would be a moment before the heat comes on in apartment buildings when I’d need a sweater indoors. Well, we’re here. Although a friend reminded me today that the last two Thanksgivings have been quite warm – around 70.

I don’t remember Columbus Day being a holiday when I was a kid. We definitely didn’t have a parade. Or school off. Maybe memory fails although back then the significance of national holidays were drilled into our patriotic little heads. Now schools are out and the mail doesn’t get delivered, so it must be.

I had dinner with an old friend over the weekend who asked me a question I’m often asked: “what is the latest gossip?” Answer: I haven’t got a clue. I’m sure there is all kinds of stuff going on although frankly I don’t have a nose for it and not even an ear. Usually the stories that perk up people’s ears have to do with marriages in trouble but everyone I know seems to be holding it together, or at least presenting that picture. I think the financials have something to do with this new marital “stability,” imagined or otherwise. But that is only my opinion. What is clear is that the financials are having a profound effect on people’s sentiments these days, even among the very rich – although they may not be admitting it.

Bernard Arnault.
Global warming. The news over the weekend was that Queen Elizabeth is giving Bernard Arnault, the head of LVMH, an honorary knighthood “for services to business and the wider community.” And just what would those services of a Frenchman to the wider community of Brits be? Smells good, looks good, feels good ... and leaves you in a luxurious languor (from the bubbly)? On Britannia!

I don’t know Mr. Arnault but I would be surprised if he weren’t secretly impressed. I mean, wouldn’t you be? Although Mr. Arnault is known to have important friends in the UK. Six years ago when Tony Blair’s daughter Kathryn was doing an intensive course in language and culture at the Sorbonne, it was reported by Gordon Rayner and Peter Allan in the Daily Mail that Mr. Arnault provided the young lady with “accommodation, transport and security” services from October 2006 to January 2007 at an estimated cost of more than $100,000. Well, isn’t that what friends are for?

The news of Mr. Arnault’s honor comes on the heels of the news of his plan to apply for a Belgian citizenship because of the new French President Hollande’s proposed raising the tax rate to 75% for anyone earning more than a million euros a year. A Belgian paper put out the headline “Welcome, Mr. Arnault.” Then Liberation, the “left-leaning” newspaper in France put out the headline “Get lost, you rich jerk.” In French, of course ... (le jerque riche?).

A lot of French people may not think much of Mr. Arnault’s citizenship plans, although no doubt he knows a few of his countrymen personally who are thinking of doing the same thing.

Baron Guy de Rothschild at a Vogue magazine gala in Paris, 1985
This tax-lax business has happened before – under Francois Mitterand, you may remember. Although they didn’t give up their French citizenship, back in the early 1980s, the Baron and Baroness Guy de Rothschild blew town and set up residence in New York. Much ado was made of the ultra-chic couple moving here. Although little ole Manhattan turned out to be too much of not enough, and in just a few years later they were back in the Hotel Lambert on the Ile Saint-Louis where they belonged.

Americans occasionally do the same thing. Last year Denise Rich, a little girl from Worcester, Mass. where her father was a very prosperous shoe manufacturer, renounced her citizenship and moved to Austria. Again, taxes. Despite her New England upbringing, however, Denise did live for years with her former husband Marc Rich in Europe. So for her it was like getting back to her old stomping grounds.  As they say: money talks and nobody walks. They go by private jet.

Catching up around town.  The Thursday before last, the Animal Medical Center’s Junior Committee hosted a Top Tails Cocktails at Le Cirque. Among the Junior Committee hosting were Travis Acquavella, Kristin Fisher Allen, Cass Adelman, Christina Floyd Di Donna, Tara Germino, Sarah Jane Gibbons, Alexandra Goelet, Amelia C. Irving, Lily Maddock, Sara Mercer, Kay Nordeman, Kimberly Ovitz, Emilia Fanjul Pfeifler,  Marie Rentschler and Sommer Scafidi.

They raised over $20,000 to support The AMC’s Frank V.D. Lloyd Fund for Guide Dogs. In the past three years, Top Tails Cocktails has raised nearly $100,000 to support The AMC’s mission of education, service and compassionate care. 
The 2012 Top Tails Cocktails Benefit Committee
Two beautiful “guide dogs in-training” from Guiding Eyes stole the hearts of the 90 guests. Guide dogs are extraordinary animals that enable visually-impaired  individuals to become independent members of society.  These animals require special and expert veterinary care so that owner and dog can share in the longest, most productive relationship possible. However, many people who are visually-impaired are unable to provide this essential care due to limited resources. Because of this, the AMC’s Junior Committee have chosen the care of these guide dogs as the focus of their philanthropy for The AMC.

In 1960, the Frank V.D. Lloyd Fund for Guide Dog was established to provide FREE veterinary care to guide dogs. “By protecting and preserving a working dog’s health, we aim to enhance our visually-impaired clients’ quality of life by extending this important bond to the fullest,” said Katherine Coyne, CEO of the Animal Medical Center.
Kay Nordeman, a member of The Animal Medical Center Junior Committee
Kate Coyne, CEO of The Animal Medical Center
Lexi Beermann (top) and Tara Germino (bottom) of The Animal Medical Center Benefit Committee
Sarah Jane and Trevor Gibbons
A guest visits with a Guiding Eyes service dog
This past Thursday over at the American Museum of Natural History, they hosted a special ceremony they honored Museum Trustee Richard LeFrak, his wife Karen and their sons Harrison and James, celebrating a $10 million gift to the museum by the Richard and Karen LeFrak Charitable Foundation. The LeFraks’ gift will make it possible for hundreds of thousands of New York City public and private school kids to attend the museum “free of charge.”

The ceremony marked the naming of the fourth floor special exhibition gallery, the LeFrak Family Gallery. Members of the LeFrak family along with museum Chairman Lewis Bernard, President Ellen V. Futter, and Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott were joined by students from Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School and P.S. 116 received yellow Explorer bracelets – colorful “passports” to the exhibition on view in the Gallery. Beginning this fall, Explorer bracelets will be given to all New York City private and public school groups visiting the gallery.
John Calicchio, Museum Chairman Lewis Bernard, Richard LeFrak; Mid ground: Karen LeFrak, Museum President Ellen Futter, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Denise LeFrak Calicchio, James LeFrak, Harrison LeFrak; Foreground: Ethel LeFrak
Richard LeFrak, Karen LeFrak, Harrison LeFrak, and James LeFrak
Jennifer Bandier, Denise LeFrak Calicchio, and John Calicchio
James and Caroline LeFrak
Karen LeFrak and Museum President Ellen Futter
Brooke Cohen, Harrison LeFrak, Karen LeFrak, Richard LeFrak, Francine LeFrak Friedberg, Rick Friedberg, Denise LeFrak Calicchio, Jennifer Bandier, James LeFrak, Peter Cohen; Foreground: Ethel LeFrak
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and students from Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School
Karen LeFrak and Museum Chairman Lewis Bernard with teachers and students from Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School
Karen LeFrak and students from Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School

Contact DPC here.