Thursday, April 24, 2014

A chill in the air

View from a window. 2 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, April 24, 2014. A sunny day but not warm yesterday in New York; a chill in the air, a strong breeze and big grey clouds moving across the blue.

I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Connie Spahn who is one of the co-chairs of the 2014 Annual Spring Environmental Lecture and Luncheon which will be held next Wednesday, April 30th at the Museum on Central Park West and 77th Street.

This is a great New York event. Connie introduced me to this a number of years ago. The “lecture” is really a discussion, moderated by Lynn Sherr, with a panel of three authorities related to the subject. The subject is always the environment: water, food, health. The discussion is held in the LeFrak Auditorium, draws a big crowd of mainly women (it’s in the middle of the day), and you learn.
Lynn Sherr and Connie Spahn.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC), “which has advanced environmental understanding and biodiversity research and conservation around the world since its founding.” The topics are current and specific to the moment of our life here on planet Earth.

After lunch I walked up Fifth Avenue because I wanted to get a shot of the pear trees around the Pulitzer Fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel. It wasn’t a great day for capturing the drama of the trees because the Sun was clouded over in the afternoon. But I also like passing the Bergdorf windows which are always creative and clever and beautiful. A young woman had just finished taking a photo of this window featuring Carolina Herrera’s dresses.
I crossed over 59th Street to Madison Avenue and ran into this little white pup, a canine princess being wheeled up the avenue by her adoring mistress. That’s when I caught the picture of pear in bloom next to the scaffolding. You see how they take the edge off the city even on a cloudy day. There are side streets that are veritable tunnels of pear blossoms. They even add something to the store window displays. I caught a cab at 66th and Madison (the photo is looking south). Getting close to home, I couldn’t resist the tree by an unremarkable brick apartment house blazing Springtime.
Late in the afternoon the news came out about the sudden, untimely death of Mark Shand, an Englishman who had been here in New York promoting his Elephant charity with The Faberge Egg Hunt auction that was held this past Tuesday night at Sotheby’s. To the many who knew him, it was shocking. Shand had gone on to a party to celebrate the great success of the auction fundraising for the elephants. At some point, he either was leaving the party, or went out onto the street to have a cigarette. At curbside, he briefly slipped or lost his balance and fell headfirst onto the pavement. He was taken immediately to Bellevue Hospital, had surgery, and never recovered. He died at noon yesterday. He was sixty-two.

Head wounds are often fatal and New Yorkers, all New Yorkers, including visitors, are at risk. It is important (and almost impossible) to watch where you’re going all the time. Even then, an accident, like a slipping or tripping, can land you on your head. It’s a most ordinary accident that can occur under any circumstances any time of day. And very often fatal. For Mark Shand, it was night time and it was not light. A moment’s distraction can be one’s fate.

Mark Shand and Caroline Kennedy, when Shand became a household name.
Shand was movie star handsome and with a bright personality full of curiosity.
Mark Shand was first in the American press in the 1970s when it was reported that he had a date with the then teenage Caroline Kennedy. She had been in London and they met there. The item was newsworthy because it was showing that the late President’s daughter was growing up. Shand was no more than in his early twenties, if that.

I met him in the early '80s when he was in Los Angeles with his friend Harry Fane and they were doing business internationally collecting and selling vintage Cartier jewelry, watches, etc. The two young men were staying with our mutual friend Lady Sarah Churchill in Beverly Hills. Sarah often had houseguests and there was the resulting camaraderie between everyone, as she liked to entertain. These boys she had known all their lives.  

Shand was of particular, if uneventful interest to me because I was meeting a “celebrity” in an ordinary social situation. He was movie star handsome and with a bright personality full of curiosity. So conversation was engaging, and laughter was often present. Sarah’s dinner and luncheon tables were often full of animated conversation supplied by the hostess if not the guests.

He was one of those Englishmen, an aristo who had a passion for adventure. You could see that almost on meeting. I never saw him again after that time at Sarah’s, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that he had had an adventurous life that passed through exotic lands and a plethora of peoples. The kind of man you read about in books; the kind who writes books of their adventures; as did he.His involvement with the Elephants reflects the bigness of his heart and his lust for life, truly joie de vivre.

He was a man of many many friends. I am certain there are scores, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands who are very sad at learning of Mark Shand’s sudden demise.

Incidentally, he was famous to a degree, in the world, because his sister Camilla is married to Prince Charles. There is no doubt the sadness and loss they are feeling now is wounding.

Delia von Neuschatz profiled Mark Shand and his work with the elephants on a recent NYSD. She was at the party last night at Sotheby’sm and took some photos of the evening and of the man who only hours later would leave his friends, and loved ones, and the world for good. Delia’s coverage of the Auction party below (and her personal tribute to him) are featured today on the NYSD ...
David Linley and Mark Shand next to The Royal Egg - Humpty Dumpty, submitted by the Prince’s Drawing School and signed by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
On Tuesday night, Sotheby’s hosted an auction the likes of which its 72nd Street premises have never before encountered. Twenty one gorgeous one-of-a-kind eggs (yes, eggs) went to the highest bidder to raise funds for two worthy causes:  conservation and children’s education.

Created by artists, architects and fashion designers including Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, Zaha Hadid and Ralph Lauren, these were part of a treasure trove of 250+ eggs which have recently been dispersed throughout New York City, the objects of a Fabergé-sponsored treasure hunt. Enthusiastic bidding, at the capable hands of Jamie Niven, Chairman of Sotheby’s America, culminated in a whopping $900,000 paid for Jeff Koons’ creation. The evening raised an impressive $1.6 million dollars altogether. 

Missed out on the auction? Not to worry. Many singular and eggs-traordinary works can still be had through the online auction house, Paddle8.  Better hurry though.  Bidding ends on April 26.  Proceeds will benefit Mark Shand’s Elephant Family which strives to save the endangered Asian elephant from extinction and Agnes Gund’s Studio in a School which brings the visual arts to under-served public schools. 
Ruth Powys, CEO of Elephant Family, Jamie Niven, Agnes Gund and Mark Shand.
Eggs by Retna with Nikolai von Bismark, Kelsey Brookes, Antonio Murado and Frank Hyder.
Jeff Koons’ egg.
Judy and Albert Taubman.
Princess Eugenie of York.
Egg designer, Jon Koon standing next to his work made of 24-kt gold leaf covered by the shards of two smashed vases that had once belonged to Chairman Mao.
Waris Ahluwalia, one of the egg designers, with Hailey Gates.
Waris Ahluwalia’s egg is hand carved from a single piece of Saur Wood in Bali.
Music during cocktail hours was provided by Frankie Sharp.
Suydam Lansing, one of the egg designers, and Jamie Niven.
Michael Head and Maggie Norris.
Alexandra Bowes-Lyon.
Miniature versions of the eggs were available for sale.
Egg designer Clifford Ross with Virginia Coleman and Agnes Gund.
The flower-filled entrance to the event served as backdrop to displays of Fabergé jewelry.
Imad Izemrane, Constance Jablonski, Laura de Gunzburg and  Bame Fierro March.
Matthew Lohmann and Baldev Duggal.
Julian Schnabel’s egg.
Nicole Mollo and Donna Schwartz.
Fiona McKinstrie and Jamie Niven.
Simon Hepworth and Rachel Waldron.
John Hemingway and Lisa Woodward.
Kelly Vitko and Andrew Fenet. Delia and Kevin von Neuschatz.
Several of the eggs that were up for auction including Bruce Weber’s Kate Moss collage, second from left.
Zaha Hadid’s egg is on the left and Tracy Emin’s is second from the right.
Hosanna Marshall enjoying a chocolate Ladurée macaroon.
Musical entertainment after the auction was provided by legendary “Soul Man” Sam Moore.

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