Monday, May 2, 2016

Discovery

The view of the Bridle Path from the Stone Arch in Central Park. 1:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, May 2,  2016. A lovely, sunny, coolish weekend in New York with rain and fog filling the day and night yesterday.

Last Thursday Night, Ronald S. Lauder was honored by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation at its 10th Annual Connoisseur’s Dinner at Sotheby’s in New York City. The event raised over $3.25 million for Alzheimer’s research.

Leonard Lauder presented his brother Ronald, with the Chairman’s Award for his leadership in supporting new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. In his introduction, Leonard told us how his brother came to him 18 years ago with this project – to fund research for an Alzheimer’s drug – and suggested they do it together.
The cocktail hour before the ADDF dinner was held in the galleries of Sotheby's where the art from their upcoming sales were displayed.
That was a moment in our history. Ronald Lauder wanted to find a cure. The idea is never impossible in this great scientific age of ours, but close to it. Alzheimer’s really came into the national consciousness in the late 1970s. It was a mystery, a frightful mystery. By the 1990s it was beginning to take on the numbers of epidemic. And scary.

I was at the first of these annual dinners when the result of Ronald and Leonard Lauder’s intention had taken form and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) had been  established. It was held in same auction room in Sotheby’s that we were in Thursday night. It was not a gala in the cookie-cutter way that galas are staged nowadays. It was a serious dinner, black tie, beautifully presented, beautifully lit, and the message from the podium – Leonard Lauder, Nancy Corzine, Dr. Fillit – was presented in the course of the dinner. Very civilized and very serious. There must have been 200 or maybe 300 there then, as there was the other night. It was a select audience in that it was a fund-raiser and they had invited potential donors. The Lauder family are great philanthropists in New York and give on a large scale. They know their neighborhood. That’s who were in the room.
The sales room where the dinner was held.
The initial discussion of  Alzheimer’s at the first dinner was not memorable, except for the fact that they didn’t have a cure and they were bound to find one. Now. In our lifetime. It did not sound realistic but it was hopeful.

In the ensuing years of this annual dinner, the news has got progressively more hopeful in a way that it wasn’t at the beginning. They were already talking about drugs that could halt the progress of the disease. Last Thursday, honoring Ronald Lauder, they were talking about discoveries that were raising the hopes and realities. 
ADDF founding board member Nancy Corzine opened the evening greeting the guests.
I cannot recount the information we were given by the Lauder brothers and by Dr. Fillit who is the head of the program. I don’t have a mind for retaining scientific information, nor do I understand half of what I’m listening to. I only could tell that from the recent discoveries (including the matter of epigenetics) that were being discussed from the podium, that they are really getting closer. There is an interesting and informative piece in the May 2nd issue of The New Yorker written about identical twin girls and the epigenetic profiles of twins. The writer is a daughter of one of the twins.
Dr. Howard Fillit discussing the progress they've made in their search for a cure.
Ronald Lauder was introduced by his older brother who praised his younger brother’s philanthropy as well as his philanthropic and ambassadorial career. They are without question the two most interesting brothers in New York today. Because of their Mother. Estee Lauder, a petite, diminutive woman who, driven with ambition and creative imagination (and with a lot of help from her husband) made an empire. The two boys who inherited it from their mother who lived a long life, made even more of it.

Estée Lauder with her sons, Leonard and Ronald.
I was thinking about this as I watched the exchange between the two brothers at the podium. I was thinking how on some level, very real, Estee would have been deeply proud of the boys she brought up. I’m sure she had help, but their own conduct reflects a very strong mother, a nurturing mother. A kind of epigenetic detail.

I’ve never met Ronald Lauder although I’m well aware of his cultural work – especially with the Neue Galerie museum which he created in the old William Starr Miller mansion on East 86th Street and Fifth Avenue where the last Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt lived out her years after the Gilded Age. I might have been introduced to him at some public occasion because I’ve been in his presence a number of times at these events, but I don’t remember. So my only impression of him was physical. He’s a tall, solid-figured man, always impeccably dressed in a well-tailored suit and tie. There is a quiet, serious expression in his natural repose and demeanor, so never having spoken to him, I had no sense of his personality.

That all changed at the podium in giving his acceptance speech. He told the nearly 300 guests: “Leonard and I have been involved together in many causes over the years, but this cause, this effort means more to me than almost anything else.” And then he continued to discuss how it came about, and what he had learned and what we can look forward to. This was done in a style that belied his serious countenance. He’s a man of a dry but jubilant wit. 
Leonard Lauder took the podium to tell the story of how ADDF came to be and introduced his brother Ronald, who had come to him with the idea.
Again, I thought of his mother, whom I have been told many times, doted on him as a young boy. It shows. He has a light but ironic sense of humor with a good dash of the Noo-Yawker in him. He’s fun to listen to at times, and funny, a man, like his older brother, with a serious sense of purpose, as well as the joy of pursuing it. I believed him. They’re going to find that answer.

Ronald Lauder also told his audience (many potential donors) that every dollar goes entirely to the research. Everything else about the now major project, employees, etc. are underwritten by him and his brother.
Ronald Lauder making his acceptance speech.
After that Dr. Fillit took the podium to discuss their work and to tell us a little something about how epigenetics are playing an important role in their research.

After that Jamie Niven, former Vice-Chairman of Sotheby’s and popular during that time as a charity auctioneer, took the stage to conduct some quick fundraising for a “Fund a Scientist” auction. The auction raised funds for scientists working in epigenetics, an emerging area with enormous potential for Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

He asked for a show of hands of how many in the room would donate $100,000. Three raised them. Then he moved to the $50,000 level. Two or three more. Before he was finished – taking the giving down to the $1000 level, he raised an additional $600,000+ for the ADDF.
Ronald and Leonard Lauder.
The dinner was hosted by Nancy Corzine, a longtime member of the ADDF’s Board. Guests including Donald E. Newhouse, Herbert Kasper, Jo Carole Lauder, Judy Glickman Lauder, William Lauder and Lori Tritsch, Tad Smith, Mary Freda, Jean Kennedy Smith, Lois Robbins, John Demsey, Ann and Andrew Tisch, Olivier Reza, Eleanora Kennedy, and Sheila Johnson Robbins enjoyed a preview of Sotheby’s Spring Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art Sale.

It was a good night.
Nancy Corzine, Leonard Lauder, and Judy Glickman Lauder. Photographs by Patrick McMullan.
Eleanor Kennedy, Judy Glickman Lauder, Sheila Johnson Robbins, Sharon Sager, and Jo Carole Lauder.
Giorgio Zeolla, Rich Marzullo, Alfonso Lewis, and Mark Pollaci.
Gurion Kastenberg, Judy Glickman Lauder, Evan Glickman, and Rachel Brenner.
Lisa Wagner, Renee Willett, Howards Roseman, and Lois Robbins.
Randall Sandler, Liz Sandler, Hadley Palmer, and Brad Palmer.
Mark Pollaci, Lisa Revson, and Paul Revson.
Joe Mele, Kathy Mele, and Donald Newhouse.
Bill Cunningham and Donald Newhouse.
Lauren Freedman, Nicholas McKeehan, Penny Dacks, and friend.
Salvatore and Patty Zizza.
Ann Tisch, Andrew Tisch, William Lauder, and Laurie Tritsch.
Kasper with Nancy Seltzer.
Harriet and Ronald Weintraub.
Jo Carole Lauder, Chuck Diker, and Valerie Diker.
Andre Lucien and Melinda Souare.
Mary Farrell and Dan Sullivan. Roger Cohen and Karen Galland.
Richard and Tracey Travis. Charles Daroff, Willa Baynard, and Robert Baynard.
Michael MacAulay and Olga Perelman. William Lauder and Laurie Tritsch.
Lois Robbins and Stacey Bronfman. Tom and Heidi McWilliams.
Michelle Edelsohn, Lanny Edelsohn, and Meryl Comer. Steven Kennedy Smith and Jean Kennedy Smith.
Olivier and Yosun Reza. Julie Nesci, James Nesci, and Nancy Goodes.
Peter Krulewitch, Linda Levy, Debra Krulewitch, and Steven Levy Ellery Gordon and Marjorie Reed Gordon
Ronald Dickerman and Wendy Wilshin. Mary-ann Freda and Phoebe Farrell Port.
Kathrin Henon and Dr. Eric Braverman. John Demsey and Ulla Parker.
Tina and , Simon Veriro. Chris and Kiera Johnson.
Rosalyn Goldstein and Myra Biblowit. Lynne Greene.
Rick Solomon, Laura Landro, Marlene Hess, and Jim Zirin. Victoria Wyman.
Bonnie Pfeifer Evans and Alice Shure. Edmond and Marielle Safra.
Beatrice Stern and Jamie Niven. Alex Carrington and Brittney Marian.
Sharon Sager and Susan Lowder. Lisa Dennison.
Gurion and Bronte Kastenberg. Phillip and Georgia Garinois.
Diane Coffey. Richard and Lynette Jaffe.

Photographs by Patrick McMullan

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