Friday, October 27, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action

Outside Lincoln Center. 7:10 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, October 27, 2017. It was much cooler yesterday in New York. Heavily overcast with rain in the area (but not Manhattan) with temps dropping into the 40s at night. And the dark begins around the six o’clock hour.

In the last couple of days I’ve been in the company of people where the conversation leads to the Weinstein imbroglio. I don’t know what you’d call it. Once upon a time it would have been referred to as a sex scandal. But we now live in a culture so inundated with upfront and backroom sexual behavior practically flaunting in the media, that the subject itself has been dulled by its frequency.

Some women I know who are older, and sophisticated, and long aware of this kind of behavior, look at it as “the way it’s always been.” They loathe it also but don’t see how it might change. In the last century, Hollywood has long been famous for the behind the scenes.

The stories going around now are about several other boys prominent in the entertainment industry who have been playing with these kinds of matches for quite sometime. Evidently if you live in Los Angeles and you’re plugged into the entertainment industry power scene, you’ve been hearing about it for a long time. Same with Weinstein. His behavior was privately well known, and in certain circles of the fashion media industry as well. Keeping quiet about it is exactly the way such matters are handled even in families. Most of the time, that is.

It was Lord Acton, the 19th century British historian, politician and writer, who wrote in a letter to an Anglican bishop: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men ... It seems as if there’s a surfeit of them throughout the woods these days.
Lord Acton.
It should be noted, along with this state of things, that our communities are rife with anger. You see it on the streets, on the roads and in the general behavior — accompanied by impatience, entitlement and good old road rage. This is obvious in so many ways and yet apparently “unnoticed” by many of us. Or maybe like the matter of Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, ignored for a variety of reasons having to do with protecting oneself from the vagaries of the “powerful.” It is social behavior gone astray and more than anything it reflects the fears and the pain in those among us about this world of ours.

La Païva, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck.
I got the following announcement in my email the other day. I often get these auction announcements from the PR departments positioning for some publicity. Jewels are often interesting to me because they have stories around their proud possessors. The stories very frequently are about the “transactions in the name of love.” 

This one was about Sotheby’s sale in Geneva of  The Donnersmarck Diamonds, which will occur on November 15th — two yellow diamonds owned by one of the most famous French courtesans of the 19th century.

Courtesans were mainly desirable and always for reasons according to the man’s desires. Desires vary in scope, intensity, personality of the man. The exchange is classic: money in a variety of forms. Any man could have a prostitute, or even a mistress, but not any man could have a courtesan. There were requirements to measure up.

The diamonds had been part of the collection of La Païva, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck (1819-1884), some would say the most famous of 19th-century French courtesans. Born Esther Lachman to modest circumstances in Russia, she “arrived” in Paris at age 18 and soon was introduced to the city’s cultural and artistic circles by her lover Henri Herz, a composer and pianist. This relationship gained her the friendship of many artists, including Richard Wagner, and many other important men.

Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck.
She met her first husband when she was in her late 20s, in the late 1840s: the Portuguese Marquis Albino Francisco de Araújo de Païva. They were married in 1851 when she was 32, but the marriage lasted only one day. Now known as La Païva, she met her future husband, Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck around the same time, coincidentally.

Von Donnersmarck was one of Europe’s richest men, handsome, charismatic, a 22-year-old heir to a Prussian industrialist and mining magnate. La Païva’s seductive charms, “extraordinary mind and business acumen” captivated the count who was eleven years her junior. Their relationship was the talk of Paris high society.

About the same time they became a couple, in 1855, La Païva purchased a plot on the Champs Elysées where she built L’Hôtel de La Païva one of the most lavish mansions ever built on the famous avenue. The palace had a central staircase made of Algerian yellow marble, which matched the yellow of the Donnersmarck diamonds. There, La Païva’s lavish parties and literary gatherings became the most talked-about events in Paris, often attended by the likes of Zola, Flaubert, the artist Eugène Delacroix and even the Emperor Napoleon III himself.
L’Hôtel de La Païva in 1900 as seen from the Champs Elysées.
L’Hôtel in June 2009.
Count von Donnersmarck and La Paiva finally married in 1871 when she was 52. Already the possessor of some fabulous jewels even before her marriage, her new husband created a collection for her that was without equal. Following La Païva’s death in 1884, the Count, who was created prince in 1901, remarried, taking as his second wife Katharina Wassilievna de Slepzoff (1862-1929) a beautiful and refined aristocrat, also Russian.

'The Donnersmarck Diamonds'
Two magnificent and historic fancy intense yellow diamonds.
Estimate: $9-14 million.
The Diamonds remained in the Donnersmarck family for more than a century until they appeared at auction at Sotheby’s in 2007. They come to auction this November after having been in a private collection for the last 10 years.

A pair of Fancy Intense Yellow diamonds with “impeccable” aristocratic provenance, they consist of a cushion-shaped diamond weighing 102.54 carats, and a pear-shaped diamond weighing 82.47 carats. The stones will be offered as a single lot during Sotheby’s auction of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels, to be held on 15 November at Mandarin Oriental, Geneva. The pair is estimated at $9-14 million (CHF 8,810,000 – 13,700,000).

Meanwhile, considering the priceless. This month, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign reached its 25th Anniversary.  It also marks 25 years since The Campaign’s visionary founder, the late Evelyn H. Lauder, co-created the iconic Pink Ribbon and became a pioneer of the breast cancer movement.

In honor of the milestone as well as Evelyn Lauder’s legacy, The Estée Lauder Companies created a short film documentary titled “Unraveling the Pink Ribbon: Creating a Breast Cancer-Free World.”

The film was directed by Sophy Holland and honors the progress made in the fight against breast cancer over the last 25 years: the historic achievements in breast cancer science, the larger, global breast cancer movement that has progressed from awareness to action, and the people who have made it possible.

You can view it here, and please share it with your friends:
After more than four decades in NYC, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House is hitting the road this November, launching the first-ever Kips Bay Palm Beach Show House in Florida. Its South Florida debut will feature 17 of the nation’s most recognizable and lauded design firms, each of whom will transform a 1920s Mediterranean Revival villa located in the El Cid Historic District of West Palm Beach. Proceeds will be shared between the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in NYC and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, marking a first-ever collaboration between the two chapters.

To kick-off the inaugural program, which will be open November 25-December 19, 2017, esteemed participants — including designers and sponsors — met at the Palm Beach Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design offices on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 for an evening of celebratory cocktails.
Nazira Handal and Christopher Maya. Fernando Wong and Stephen Mooney.
Evening attendees included: Christopher Drake and Will Steele, Bierly-Drake Associates; Christopher Maya, Christopher Maya Inc.; Fernando Wong and Tim Johnson, Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design; Lisa Erdmann, Lisa Erdmann & Associates; Mary Foley and Michael Coxfoley&cox; Stephen Mooney, Stephen Mooney Interiors; and Tom Konopiots and Michael Stornello, Vincere Ltd.

The Opening Night Preview Party will be on Thursday, 11/24. For more information, visit kipsbaydecoratorshowhouse.org/palmbeach.
Michael Cox and Mary Foley. Christopher Drake and Will Steele.
Lisa and Lars Erdmann. Michael Stornello and Tom Konopiots.

Photographs by Capehart Photography (Kips Bay)

Contact DPC here.