Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Hazard of New Fortunes

Day-time moon. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, April 14, 2016. Beautiful sunny day, yesterday in New York, with temperatures in the high 50s. Weatherman says it’s gonna be warmer for the next few days.

The Michael’s Lunch. John Sykes of Clear Channel;  Marshall Cogan; real estate exec Jay Cross, Joseph DeAcetis; Joan Gelman with Sandy Pearl; Dr. Gerry Imber with Andy Bergman, Jerry Della Femina, Michael KramerJulie Macklowe; Chris Meigher with Judy Price; Eva Mohr with Ricki Klieman and Nikki HaskellHarriet Muss; Jack Myers; Vicky Rose, of US Weekly; Stan Shuman; Steve Solomon; Nick Verbitsky of United Stations; Charles Whittingham Sr. and Chas Jr.; Susan Blond; David Blum; Joanne Danielides with Donna Hanover; Luke Janklow; Mark Simone with Rick Friedberg; Robert Zimmerman; lawyer/author Jim Zirin; producer Beverly Camhe with Bill McCuddy;  Hugh Freund; Matias Molina; Prince and Princess Michael of Greece (Marina Karella); Lally Weymouth; Herb Siegel with son Bill Siegel; Emma Levine; Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas with DPC.

A Hazard of New Fortunes. Tinsley Mortimer, a former star of the New York social scene not all that long ago, the very pretty blonde socialite who perfected the cross-ankle pose that so many young (and not so young) women of fashion now affect when a photographer/paparazzi is around, is back in the news in Palm Beach.

It seems that Ms. Mortimer, who was divorced from her husband Topper Mortimer several years ago, was arrested in Palm Beach for stalking an old boyfriend on his property. This, according to the report, wasn’t the first or second time she’d been present and uninvited. But enough to become a nuisance to somebody. The cops were called and the lady was detained. It seems inconvenient if not exactly criminal yet obviously someone had had enough.

Whatever the story, it sounds like the detritus of a fallen love affair. The tabloids posted a mugshot of the lady. It’s actually the first best mugshot I’ve ever seen of anybody. She looks very annoyed, but nevertheless still the beauty she was when she had the town around her little finger.

I haven’t followed her adventures in the past few years. Hearing of this past incident, and thinking about Tinsley for awhile, I looked her up in our archives and came upon a Diary we published almost seven years ago....
Pricing Tinsley.

You say: 'I did not think it would happen.' Do you think there is anything that will not happen, when you know that it is possible to happen, when you see that it has already happened ... — Seneca (c.4BC – AD 65)

Seneca was a Roman philosopher, dramatist, statesman. The emperor Caligula wasn't crazy about him and would have had him executed but Seneca was in such poor health by then that Caligula figured that he was going to die anyway. Seneca didn't. But as fate would have it, Caligula did.

Claudius succeeded as emperor. Claudius' wife Messalina wasn't crazy about Seneca either and, accusing him of adultery with a married relative of hers, got Claudius to exile Seneca to Corsica.

Later Messalina carried on an adulterous affair with an attractive Roman senator, Gaius Silius. That affair got so hot and heavy they decided to kill her husband, Emperor Claudius. Someone else must have been in on the plot because it got back to Claudius. The upshot: He ordered their execution.

His and Messalina's daughter brought her the news, saying to her mother something like: "forget it, it's over." Messalina had the option of killing herself but she was too afraid to. So a soldier decapitated her. That was her other choice. When Claudius received the news, he was dining, and asked for more wine.
Detail from Death of Messalina by Georges Rochegrosse.
Families. After the death of Messalina, Claudius married a woman named Agrippina, who already had a little boy named Nero. Yes, that Nero. Is it true he took violin lessons as a kid? So long ago, so hard to know. Agrippina liked Seneca and he became little Nero's tutor. Then Claudius died and Agrippina worked it so that her little Nero could become Emperor instead of Claudius' natural son, Britanicus. Are you following this?

Years later, Seneca, now retired and writing, was accused of participating in a plot to kill Nero and end his infernal fiddling. This plot did not work out and his former student ordered Seneca to kill himself. Just like what happened to Messalina. He did this by slashing several veins. It was widely believed afterwards that Seneca hadn't been part of any conspiracy.
The Suicide of Seneca by Manuel Domínguez Sánchez, 1871.
Now. Why was I telling you this? Oh, the quote from the ancient writings of Seneca. So apt, so timely, so many things.

Tinsley in the Evening Standard of London in 2009.
And what inspired it? The news going around the web today, this no-news day, that Tinsley Mortimer has left her husband Topper (which was first printed on these pages January 12th, 2009 although I have seen them out and together many times since then). According to an article by Spencer Morgan in New York magazine, the couple have been separated since then.

Mrs. Mortimer is now in London where she is seen around with Prince Casimir Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, a young Prussian prince from an almost-ancient family of the Rhineland that dates its prominence back to the 10th century. At one point the Sayn-Wittgensteins basically owned a country (now part of Germany) and had dozens of castles.

Coincidentally, the prince's family's economic and social background is not dissimilar to that of the Mortimers, who are famously descended from wealth and prominence in the nation's history.

Prince Casimir and Tinsley, their first (photographed) public appearance together.
Topper Mortimer, born Robert Livingston Mortimer, is a descendent of the first Robert Livingston, lord of Livingston Manor (Columbia County), 180,000 acres in that neck of the woods. Mortimer descendents are also related to John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice of the United States. Although more recently, and more importantly according to today's values, Topper Mortimer's grandmother was an heiress to one of the Standard Oil-related fortunes.

While the Sayn-Wittgensteins were a wealthy family for centuries, the 20th century and two world wars rendered all that void. Nevertheless, like the Mortimers in America, the Sayn-W's kept their prestigious position in society. As vacuous as this may sound, the value of that position is incalculable to any intelligent and/or clever individual, from the basic access to three squares a day to professional connections within one or two degrees of separation. Politics at its prettiest.

Prince Casimir's background mirrors that and no doubt greatly assists him in his businesses today. His grandma, who is known to that world as "Manni" is also a direct descendant of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, through a daughter, and therefore a relation of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France. So what's Lord of the Manor?

Manni is also a famous paparazzi of international royalty and society named Princess Marianne Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn – or Manni to her private jetloads of international friends and royalty. Manni knows everybody and in the past six or seven decades, she's photographed all of them. Although I'm not certain that she ever turned her lens on Mrs. Mortimer crossing her ankles. Nevertheless, her archives are treasures, photo-chronicles of an era now past.

Grandma Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn with Andy.
Princess Mani Sayn-Wittgenstein, looking royal.
You've read about her and her books of photographs here on the NYSD. Her work is a combination of Slim Aarons and Patrick McMullan, or Jerome Zerbe. Manni now in her late 80s, lives in Germany although she's always on the go and traveling the world.

She and her husband, Prince Ludwig (known as Udi) married during the Second World War. After the War much of the family properties had been destroyed, sold or confiscated. When Udi died suddenly in 1962, the lady, mother of five, had to go out and earn some money.

She did this with her camera, photographing the parties she attended and the friends she knew, and selling them to European publications.

Because she was titled, and from an old family, she had access as well as the cleverness to know how to use it. This is what I was referring to in terms of "position."
Manni became the foremost paparazzi of international society, and by birth always a coronet apart from any of her professional peers.

In fact, because of her obsessive avocation of picture-taking, a number of years ago Princess Caroline of Monaco said to her: you're not paparazzi, you're "mamarazzi." And so it has been.

Tinsley Mortimer, incidentally, born a Mercer from Richmond, Virginia, also claims an illustrious lineage which includes Thomas Jefferson, John Randolph and James Madison (and Sally Hemings while we're connecting the dots). Two presidents and a direct descendent of Princess Pochahantas and John Rolfe, founder of the Jamestown Colony in 1607.
Tinsley in the front row in 2009.
Tinsley at "Tinsley Mortimer with Q Magazine" party.
In New York, however, this kind of geneology is not only unknown to The Way We Live Now, but also irrelevant. Tinsley Mortimer is a contemporary woman and knows this. She has followed a path created by another individual with a "family" name: Paris Hilton. Tinsley has been Paris Hilton's New York version ever since Paris abandoned New York and returned to her native Los Angeles to live, love, laugh and be wealthy – through marketing herself as a business.
Tinsley, according to an interview she gave to the Evening Standard of London, reported by William Cash, wants to have a business like that of Tamara Mellon or Tory Burch, or their professional grandma, Diane von Furstenberg -- who found her way professionally when she was married to another European prince of similar extraction, Prince Egon von Furstenberg. She's already got a handbag license with Samantha Thavasa. Now she wants a clothing line. She wants to be a brand. She won't be Tinsley Mortimer. She'll just be the brand. ("How much Is that Tinsley in the window?") And maybe a princess too. Princess Tinsley Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn.
Tinsley on the set of "Gossip Girl."

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