Friday, September 30, 2016

A cavalcade

Watching the passing parade. Photo: JH.
Friday, September 30, 2016.  Overcast all day into evening, rain threatening, sometimes some raindrops in the strong autumn breeze off the river; temperatures in the low 60s, into the 50s after dark. You can’t not love Autumn in New York.

It’s been a busy week for a lot of New Yorkers. Yesterday I had lunch with the beautiful Nina Griscom who’d just come back from Paris where she spent a few days visiting a friend who needs her friends right now. Then last night there was a book party hosted by Assouline for Juan-Pablo Molyneux, the international interior designer who knows how to provide the real palatial and make you welcome, too.

I was there only briefly because I had a 7 o’clock dinner at the Pierre for the Inaugural HOPE RISING benefit for the Association For Frontotemperal Degeneration (AFTD). You never heard of it? Neither had I. But many of us have known those it has taken from us. But more on that on Monday when I can tell you about the very moving evening.

Juan-Pablo Molyneux with a copy of Juan-Pablo Molyneux at Home. Click to order.
I’d rushed from the Molyneux party which was only a block away from the Pierre to find that the ballroom entrance and the entire block of 61st Street between Fifth and Madison was closed off with several police cars and police on the sidewalk. When you see a scene like that beside a large, well-known, well-lighted hotel entrance, there is a quality of foreboding. I asked the doorman on Fifth Avenue and he said: “Trump.” Aha.

I later learned that Donald Trump was appearing at a fund-raiser. All that security for anyone who is in those lofty political realms, including the candidates makes me very sad. I am not opposed and furthermore I have no authority anyway. But it reminded me of the night when that same block was closed off and a curtain was put around the entire marquee on Sixty-first Street with an entrance for a car so nobody could see him alight from his limousine. And security all around. It was for Mr. Vice President Cheney

I recalled the time last year when I happened to be at an appointment on the East Side and couldn’t move east or north on the sidewalks until the Presidential cortege came from the United Nations traveling up First Avenue, turning across 55th Street to the West Side. I resigned myself to the wait (about fifteen minutes – the streets blocked off for it). A least I’d get an opportunity to get a glimpse of my President. The citizen gets a glimpse of his President.

What came along was a parade of motorcycle policemen, then squad cars, then a parade of black SUVs, all with blackened windows and then more squad cars. And that was it. Was the President even in the parade?  How would I know? Remote. Intimidating. A fanfare of bureaucracy.

The last time I saw this kind of Presidential cavalcade was in the mid-90s when Bill Clinton was President.  Again I had to be over far east in the 50s mid-afternoon, and they’d closed off 52nd Street from Seventh Avenue to Second Avenue. So I walked it, looking forward to maybe getting a glimpse.
The motorcade of President Obama down Park Avenue on his visit to the city in October 2014.
At the corner of Second and 52nd, the entourage finally came by. Motorcyles, squad cars – a lot of them – the SUVs, not all blackened windows; and they all moved very quickly down Second Avenue. But where was the President ... .a few moments later, around the corner comes the Presidential limousine, and who should be sitting in the back seat with all the windows clear to see but the President all by himself, Mr. Clinton, smiling and waving to the folks on the curb.

It was a great day in New York that day.

My first recollection of seeing a President in New York was back when I was a little boy up in Massachusetts, and always looking at the tabloids from New York City that my father got daily. And on the front page of the Daily News was a photograph of President Harry Truman strolling up Park Avenue in the morning, making his morning constitutional from the Presidential apartment in the Waldorf Towers.
President Truman strolling around the Washington Monument.
In the photo, Mr. Truman was followed by two Secret Servicemen. Period. Two. Mr. Truman had also already survived an assassination attack that failed in Washington. Ha! He’d stroll up the avenue anyway, to 66th Street and than back down to the Waldorf, bidding “good morning” to anyone he might be passing by. That was the middle of the 20th century. America had just won the War in Europe as an Ally. And we were safe.

Ironically, I’ve seen Donald Trump many times on the avenue, talking with his associates, companions, friends, walking along like the rest of us or going to or from his car. I’ve seen him at events where he was appearing, mingling with the rest of us, outgoing, friendly and all business. Now he’s fenced off. Alas poor Donald. Alas poor Us.
Europe’s biggest and most important fair devoted to art, antiques and design — The European Fine Art Fair better known as TEFAF — is soon to launch TEFAF New York. To celebrate the upcoming New York edition, the organization hosted a reception and private dinner at the Park Avenue Armory on Wednesday, September 21st.

JH and I were introduced to TEFAF in 2007 when we were invited by Michel Witmer to attend the annual opening of the fair in Maastricht, Netherlands. Michel is TEFAF’s official U.S. Ambassador and a member of its Board and Trustees.

I had never heard of it until Michel introduced himself to us. Despite its importance and prominence to European collectors and dealers, TEFAF in those days was relatively unknown to Americans, even many collectors. However, what we learned from Michel was that this was THE greatest art and antiques fair internationally.
Michel Witmer.
It had been established in Maastricht by a group of European dealers more than 25 years ago and has the strictest vetting system of all the fairs, drawing only the very best to exhibit. What really appealed to us was learning that the profits from the fair are donated to cancer charities.

However, Michel, besides being a collector, is also a subtle, yet very persuasive marketer. He introduced TEFAF to all of us. It became the cover story of major publications, like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and more, where it was widely heralded as the world's greatest art and antiques fair. We’ve covered it thoroughly on these pages several times and thanks to Michel’s guidance we broke the story for the first time to many American readers. One interesting fact: during its ten-day period, there are more private jets at the Maastricht airport than are parked at the Super Bowl.
Harry van der Hoorn, Patrick van Maris van Dijk, Michael Plummer, Willem van Roijen, Madelon Strijbos, and Jeff Rabin
On following visits I was amazed to see so many  Americans I knew attending.  It had quickly gone from unknown to Must Attend. And TEFAF's galleries experienced a noticeably higher number of sales going to wealthy Americans, now at a multi-billion dollar level.

Ten years later, TEFAF is not only internationally famous even to Americans, but now expanding to an American fair.

TEFAF New York premieres three weeks from today, on Friday, October 21 at the Park Avenue Armory, and it will run through October 26th, featuring 94 leading dealers of fine art, design, furniture and jewelry from antiquity through the early 20th Century. Opening Night will benefit The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s patient care, research, and education programs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as well as the acclaimed cultural programs produced by the Park Avenue Armory.
Michael Plummer and Jeff Rabin
Dolf Hogewoning and Willem van Roijen
Willem van Roijen, Beatrice Stern, Jamie Niven, and Patrick van Maris van Dijk
Count and Countess Alexandre de Vogue with Richard Feigen
Amanda Ross, Lavinia Branca Snyder, Madelon Strijbos, and Caryn Zucker
Olivier Reza, Yosun Reza, and Patrick van Maris van Dijk
Dr. Wolfram Koeppe and Marina Kellen French
Rebecca Robertson
Tom Postma and Jack Kilgore
Sandy and Lisa Ehrenkranz Jamie Drake
Linda Lees and Marc Pachter
Joe Yang, Anya Bemis, and Ernest de la Torre
Tom Hill, Judy Dobrzynski, and Dr. Wolfram Joeppe
Adam Williams, Alessandar di Castro, and Dino Tomasso
Alessandar di Castro and Tom Postma
Juan Montoya, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Susan Gutfreund, and Carlos Picon
Adam Flatto, Nigel Redden, and Byron Knief
Bob Mcloud, Steve Byskiewicz, and Joe Yong

Photographs by Carl Timpone (TEFAF)

Contact DPC here.