Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Transactions

Neighbors. 9:00 PM. Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Cold in New York last night – mid-20s. Yesterday there was a little snow and rain forecast. Not. Not a sunny day either but the roads and sidewalks were dry, and traffic was terrible all over. Today, the weatherman forecasts, we might see some of the aforementioned – some rain and some snow. Or maybe none.

The warm temperatures last week finally melted a lot of the dirty snowbanks and so we’re waiting for Springtime. I noticed one of the small pots on my terrace has sprouted four little green shoots. I was very surprised because it must have been a plant I bought or was given. I don’t know if it’s a tulip or a hyacinth. Whatever it is, I’ll be watching ... and hoping ...
After the thaw. Photo: JH.
I went down to Michael’s to lunch. Michael’s was quiet, yet packed, unlike today’s lunch which will probably be vocal pandemonium and table hopping. Yesterday had its share of NYC and international VIPs. Lesley Stahl was at the corner table. Chris-craft  tycoon Herb Siegel was next door. Alexandra Trower, the Lauder VP, was on the other side. Gordon Davis was lunching with Diane Coffey and a man I didn’t recognize. Anne Fulenwider, the E-I-C of Marie Claire next door to them. Christy Ferer was hosting a table of very attractive ladies in the bay. Candia Fisher (Fisher-Landau Center for Art) was nearby, as was famous banking executive Sallie Krawcheck (former president of Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America; Dave Zinczenko, publisher/editor/tv personality was lunching with business associates; Nikki Haskell was with John Morgan and his wife Connie. Nikki heads out to the Coast today or tomorrow to take in all the upcoming Oscar parties.

Almina stands at the crib of her son, Henry George.
Baron Portchester or “Porchy” to his friends a family.
Also: Elihu Rose (known as Elly to his many friends), the co-creator of the magnificently restored and renovated Park Avenue Armory; Justin Smith, chief executive of the Bloomberg Media group was lunching with Steve Rattner. Producer Michael Mailer with writer/director James Toback; Lin Paulsin and friends; internationally famous economist Nouriel Roubini; mega-agent Wayne Kabak.

I got an email from a reader about Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey to us tv-watchers) and its actual family, the Earls of Carnarvon, especially the 6th Earl (grandfather of the present – the 8th Earl). Evidently the Carnarvons (family name Herbert) had all kinds of skeletons and Edwardian extra-marital activities in their past, which is no surprise to anyone who’s ever read about the Edwardians (beginning with Bertie, known as King Edward VII).

Christopher Wilson, writing in the Sunday Express (London) has pointed out that the family history is as good a place as any for Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes to get his stories and his plots for the next season’s series.

Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert, 6th Earl of Carnarvon (7 November 1898 – 1987) was a British peer, the son of George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle, and Almina Wombwell.  He was known as Baron Portchester from birth and “Porchy” to his friends a family.   

Henry, or “Porchy” was married twice. First to an American woman, Anne Catherine Wendell, with whom he had a son – who eventually became the 7th Earl (who became Queen Elizabeth II’s Racing Manager), and a daughter. After their divorce he married again to the toast of two continents and a wild girl.

Tilly Losch, the 6th Countess of Carnarvon, Wilson writes “was ravished by men in power” according to a new biography by writer William Cross. “Those who wanted her for sex were unattractive and imperfect but they were rich and powerful and well connected. She slept with no one for love’s sake, she was incapable of love, but she knew what she was doing. Love was just a transaction.”
Hardly remembered today Tilly Losch, born Ottine Ethel Leopoldine Losch, born in Vienna was a ballerina and actress who by her late 20s had become a major star on the stage in London, New York, and then in Hollywood.

Cecil Beaton described her as “that serpent of the Old Danube,” which gives you an idea of her private reputation among the social set. She came to the scene in the late 1920s as the protégé of British stage impresario CB Cochran.

Her looks and sex appeal brought her quickly to the attention of society and many men wanted to sleep with her. Despite her apparent disinterest, she accommodated many of her suitors including Randolph Churchill (son of Winston). Churchill, Wilson writes, “offered up his virginity and remained grateful ever after for her ‘boundless sexual capacity.’” After Churchill came Tom Mitford, the only brother of the famous Mitford sisters (he was later killed in the Second World War).
Tilly Losch by Cecil Beaton.
Tilly had studied ballet as a child at the Vienna Opera, and became a member of the corps de ballet when she was 15. She arrived in London with a reputation for being a kept woman but was an overnight sensation in her first London stage appearance in 1928 in Noel Coward’s  “Year of Grace.” From there she crossed the Atlantic to star with Fred and Adele Astaire in Dietz & Schwartz’ “The Bandwagon,” and after that in Coward’s “Bittersweet.”

Edward James, a very rich Anglo-American who had a stately pile that was even bigger than Highclere, and was known to be gay, was mad about her and wanted to marry her. He pursued her across the Atlantic to New York and begged her to marry him. She agreed but on their wedding night she refused his sexual advances by reminding him “Edward, my darling, you’re a pansy.”
Tilly Losch, 1920s, by Cecil Beaton.
Nevertheless, James founded a ballet company for her in 1933 which performed in London and Paris with George Balanchine as its artistic director. Its most popular work was “The Seven Deadly Sins” by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.  Tilly danced the leading role and Weill’s wife Lotte Lenya.  Soon Tilly and Lenya were having a passionate affair. This went on until she deserted Lenya for Marlene Dietrich.

Tilly Losch, Tom Mitford, and Dorothy Paley (later Hirshon).
All of this distressed poor Edward the rejected husband, although he was still known to go off with men (his favorite was an Italian taxi driver). Tilly made matters worse for him when she aborted his child. When he found out, he called her a “lousy bitch, a dirty swine, a dirty gold digger filthy vermin,” you name it.  He sued for divorce naming Russian prince Serge Obelensky, the first husband of Vincent Astor’s sister Alice. Obelensky had been sleeping with Tilly during the first six months of her marriage to James. So intense was their passion that one night they couldn’t wait to get to a bed and consummated it at the top of the Empire State Building.

Meanwhile, back with the Carnarvns at Highclere: Tilly Losch met Porchy Carnarvon, the 6th Earl in 1931 in America, when he was still his first wife.  According to biographer William Cross, the Earl was “ugly, crude and arrogant.” He was known to knock on a would-be mistress’ door “with a certain portion of his anatomy.” Yet, as Christopher Wilson put it: when Tilly “slithered into the bed of Porchy, Earl of Carnarvon, he could not wait to make her his countess.”

Their marriage took place in 1939. In the taxi on the way to their wedding Tilly told him: “I don’t want to be married. I’m not in love.”  The family was appalled that the Earl went through with it. Wilson again: “most people marveled at how he could ever think to take such a shop-soiled and frankly dangerous woman for his wife.”
‪Alfred Cheney Johnston - Model tilly Losch, from Enchanting Beauty, 1937.
However, Porchy as he was known (as was his son also) was an “uncompromisingly direct ladies’ man.” He wanted what he wanted. Besides he went after any woman he was interested in, married or not.

The marriage lasted ten weeks. War was about to break out in England. Highclere took in a large group of evacuees from the London blitz. Tilly couldn’t take it and moved to the Ritz on London’s Piccadilly. That wasn’t enough and on November 27, 1939, she sailed from Southampton to the United States.  The couple remained married, although separated and in she divorced the husband she despised.

The book: Catherine and Tilly: Porchy Carnarvon’s Two Duped Wives by William Cross. Book Midden Publishing, £12.50. You can find it on Amazon.
Tilly Losch, 1928, by Emil Otto Hoppé.
Downton Abbey aside, and back to 21st century reality, the weekend before last (2/15/14) at Windsor in Vero Beach, Florida (how’s that for some fresh air), Hilary and Galen Weston hosted the 2nd biennial Windsor Charity Polo Cup at the polo grounds. The event’s presenting sponsor was Baltimore headquartered investment firm Brown Advisory.  Other signature sponsors included Swarovski and Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi of Melbourne.

A roster of international polo players competed in the event which benefitted the Rett Syndrome Research Trust and the Indian River Country School District’s “Summer Literacy on the Lagoon”, a local program developed to support student literacy.

More than 1,000 people came out for the day. 600 guests watched the tournament and enjoyed a champagne lunch under a handsomely decorated tented pavilion. Other attendees viewed the match from a festive tailgate section and grandstand seating. 
Hilary and Galen Weston and the polo players.
Salvatore Ferragamo won Most Valuable Player, and his Caballeros de Ruby team beat opposing team Balios 9-7.  Ferragamo, who runs the family’s expanding wine business, has played against Prince Charles and Prince Harry in the Outback Polo match; Legendary polo player Memo Gracida’s gelding, Lucero, was awarded Best Playing Pony.  Gracida won the US Open 17 times and has held a perfect 10 handicap for 17 years. 

Following the tournament, the Westons hosted an al fresco dinner at their ocean home Windsor in honor of Salvatore Ferragamo and the players.
Danna Swarovski and Memo Gracida and winning polo.
Windsor is a private residential community spanning 416 acres of lush barrier island between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean in Vero Beach, Florida. 
Established in 1989 by the Westons, Windsor was designed by renowned town planners Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. It is comprised of 350 home sites in various settings for their signature Anglo-Caribbean architecture and gracious living.

Members enjoy an 18-hole links-style golf course, Har-Tru tennis courts, an Equestrian Centre with over four miles of riding trails, a fully equipped Fitness Centre, and Gun Club.  The Clubhouse, with interiors designed by Yabu Pushelberg is a favorite gathering place much like the Beach Club which features private cabanas, its own restaurant, a pool-side Cabana Bar and 25-metre swimming pool. 
Gigi and Carl Grimstad with daughters India and Kate.
John Walsh with Mike Azzaro's sons Harrison and Hunter. A young polo fan.
On the polo field at Windsor.
John Walsh signs autographs for youthful attendees.
Nannette de Gaspe Beaubien and Hilary Weston.
Pablo Dorignac and Camilla Errala . Hilary Weston.
Carl Grimstad, Nannette de Gaspe Beaubien, Caroline Barnett, and Craig Barnett.
Max Azzaro and John Walsh.
Salvatore and Christine Ferragamo.
Carlos Gracida, Regina Fernandez, and Galen Weston.
Nannette de Gaspe Beaubien, Danna Swarovski, and Kjestine Bijur.
Al fresco dinner hosted by Hilary and Galen Weston in honor of Salvatore Ferragamo.
More catching up: Here in New York, Michele Gerber Klein threw a drinks party in her art-filled apartment for her friends Jody and Gerard Schwarz who is the music Director of The All Star Orchestra, an ensemble of top musicians from America's leading orchestras. 

The group is currently featured in a new eight-part television series airing on PBS all over the United States. The premise is to give everyone especially those who can't afford or don't have geographical access to orchestras, the chance to enjoy great classical music. Schwarz is also the Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony, and there's even a street named after him in Seattle.
Eric Silberger and Julian Schwarz.
Guests included Melissa and Chappy Morris, Patsy and Jeff Tarr, Christy Ferer, Geoffrey Bradfield, DD and Beatrice Pei, Janice and Charles Cecil and Jean Shafiroff, Will Ryman, Adam Fuss, Robert Polidori and the Andy Warhol Foundation's Michael Strauss as well as Douglas Hannant’s partner Frederick Anderson, Alice and Paul Judelson, R. Couri Hay, Phong Bui and Nathalie Provosty, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Hirth, Cassandra Seidenfeld, Amy Rossi and Peter Rosenthal, Evelyn and Oivind Lorentzen, Waqas Wajahat,  Sue Stoffel, Susan Cappa, Christopher DeLong, Dana Buckley and Spencer Tompkins and Marie Monique Steckel who led the applause for Julian Schwarz's beautifully rendered Cello performance of the Handel-Halverson Sonata.
Christy Ferer and Michele Gerber Klein. James Prosek and Waqas Wajahat.
Geoffrey Bradfield and Roric Tobin.
Paul Schwendener and Dana Buckley. Phong Bui and Michele Gerber Klein.
William Witenberg, Chappy Morris, Lauren Lawrence, and Melissa Morris.
Patricia and Thomas Shiah. Marjorie and Ellery Gordon.
Pascal Richards, Beatrice Pei, and CC Pei.
Julie and Jim Dale. Frederick Anderson and Michele Gerber Klein.
Gerard Schwarz, Jeff Tarr, and Patsy Tarr.
Oivind Lorentzen and Evelyn Lorentzen Bell. Jodi and Gerard Schwarz.
Michael Straus, Jodi Schwarz, Michele Gerber Klein, Frederieke Taylor, and Sue Stoffel.
Janis Cecil and R Couri Hay. Marie Monique Steckel.
Will Ryman and Peter Rosenthal.
 

Contact DPC here.