Tuesday in the Big City
New York paraphernalia on 48th between 3rd and Lexington. Photo: JH.
On last Saturday, a beautiful Columbus Day weekend, Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross were married at the Dune Church on the beach next to the Southampton Bathing Corporation before a small group of friends and family. On Monday night, the newlyweds had their reception and invited a lot of their friends – maybe two hundred – to a dinner dance at the Rainbow Room high above Rockefeller Center. Valerie Romanoff and her Starlight Orchestra played and entertained – Valerie has all kinds of vocal tricks up her sequined sleeves including a man who sounds so much like Frank Sinatra you think you’re listening to the recording, as well as a couple of white chicks and a couple of black chicks who show you what the Supremes or the Ronettes or a lot of other girl groups can do, and even better. So everybody loved that. And then after dinner, before dessert (no wedding cake this time – banana splits with cherries on top and chocolate mousses – some mouse ate mine while I was up photographing) Mr. Bobby Short sat down at the Baldwin and serenaded us with a half dozen of his signature New York tunes.

Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross
Invitations called for “festive dress” which for the men always lets them off the black tie hook, and for the women, a chance to dress up a little. There were even some furs to take the autumn evening chill of certain bared shoulders. Muffie Potter Aston was thrilled to announce to friends that she and her husband Dr. Sherrell Aston are expecting twin girls. They will be the first children for the hard-working former public relations executive.

Other than the bride and groom, the most talked about couple in the room were Steve and Christine Schwarzman who recently bought the Maurice Fatio-designed E.F. Hutton estate, “Four Winds” on South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach and tore down the landmarked house.

Coincidentally, the Schwarzmans bought the 18,000-square-foot single story house from Hilary Geary Ross’ sister and brother-in-law, Robin and John Pickett (for $20.5 million). This matter was of interest in the room Monday night especially because so many attending the party spend so much if not all their time in Palm Beach and it is/was one of the most famous houses in town.

And Palm Beach is a town, lest we forget. And a small one, which, just like all the others, loves nothing better than the buzz-buzz-buzz. The best buzz is of course always a juicy divorce, or maybe a little marriage mayhem, or even a matrimonial murder (preferably accidental). So without that, architecture, the throwing of good money after good, and the throes of demolition will have to suffice. It is not a new subject although a lot of today’s Palm Beachers have no knowledge, let alone memory, of all the mansions that have disappeared with the wrecker’s ball over the past two generations as fortunes waned and evaporated in a haze of high-living.

Mr. Schwarzman could not add a second floor to the almost seventy-year-old wooden structure, and so he intends to start from scratch. He made a huge fortune on his own as a partner in the Blackstone group, and already has a beautiful large house in Palm Beach that he bought a few years ago from Quest magazine publisher Chris Meigher. He also has several large residences including what is said to be the largest house in St. Tropez, a house in East Hampton, another in Jamaica, and the huge apartment at 740 Park Avenue that was built for John D. Rockefeller Jr. and more recently owned by Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg. Last May he was appointed Chairman of the Kennedy Center and there are loud whispers about that if George W. Bush is re-elected President, Mr. Schwarzman will be his new Secretary of the Treasury.

Big he likes. Although, unlike a lot of tycoons who just bring in the interior designers by the van-load to do a number, Mr. Schwarzman takes an active interest in the design and renovation of his properties and the results are, like his business investments, first rate. Without doubt, once the now controversial new “Four Winds” project is completed, the whole town – at least those for whom the ham is hung out – will flock to see and enjoy the Schwarzmans’ cozy hospitality.
The Rainbow Room
Meanwhile back to the wedding couple of the moment. This is the third marriage for both bride and groom. Each had a long first marriage, (and children) and a short second marriage. Mr. Ross’s second wife was the former Lt. Governor of the State of New York Betsy McCaughey.

The new Mrs. Ross is a very popular and well-liked member of long standing in Southampton and New York society and part of the now fabled Murray-McDonnell clans who summered in Southampton on THE family plot of several hundred acres by the sea for the better part of the last century.

Mr. Ross, who has been summering in Southampton for quite a few years himself, although he is not nearly as established there as his new wife, is a soft-spoken man with a quiet yet jolly laugh. He is known in his business as the best “turnaround financier” in the country, having been involved in more than $200 billion of defaulted companies’ assets around the world. Fortune Magazine named him “the King of Bankruptcy” a few years ago. For 26 years he was Executive Managing Director of Rothschild, Inc, the US affiliate of the Rothschild family’s merchant banking group. In 2000 he formed WL Ross & Co. LLC with offices in New York, Tokyo and Seoul. Since then his company has created private investment and hedge funds worth more than $2 billion.

Thanks to well-wishes of the couples many friends, and the beautifully decorated ballroom with its splendid and other-worldly views of the metropolis at nighttime as far as the eye could see, and the rousing dance music of Valerie Romanoff as well the sophisticated delivery of Bobby Short’s saloon melodies, it was a brilliant way for the couple to start a new day.
Muffie Potter Aston and Roger Webster
Bobby Short serenading
Thorunn Wathne, Hilary Geary, and Wendy Vanderbilt
Diamonds are a girl's best friend, but don't forget the emeralds
Last week, while I was over at the new One Beach Court where the Municipal Art Society was paying homage to Agnes Gund, over at the Waldorf, the Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala, one of New York City’s most glamorous and eagerly anticipated events, was celebrating their 20th anniversary in the Grand Ballroom.

The theme of this year’s 20th anniversary gala was “Beauty Under the Big Top” and they raised more than $1.7 million for the Alzheimer’s Association. Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, daughter of the late Rita Hayworth and founder of the Rita Hayworth Galas, was honored with the Alzheimer’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award and Maria Shriver was honored with the Alzheimer’s Awareness Award, presented to her by Barbara Walters.

Adorned with a festive circus chic décor, the ballroom was filled with a glittering crowd that included Caroline Kennedy and Edward Schlossberg, Eunice Shriver, Liz Smith, Marie Brenner, Marty Richards, Joy and Regis Philbin, Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross, Joan Collins, Denise Rich, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, Joan Rivers, Jamie Drake, Donna Dixon Aykroyd, Peter Boyle, Cornelia and Marty Bregman, Margo and John Catsimatidis, Claudia Cohen, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Deborah and Allen Grubman, Anne Hearst, Susan and John Hess, Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner, Prince Michael of Yugoslavia, Felicia Taylor, Dennis Basso, Michael Cominotto, Bryant and Hilary Gumbel, Nurit Kahane Haase, Michele and Larry Herbert, Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrill Aston, Andrea and John Stark, and Allison and Leonard Stern.
Howard Solomon, Nancy Corzine, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Walter Fischer, and Maria Shriver
Nancy Corzine was the Gala Chair, Walter Fischer of Rolex Watch USA, Inc. was the Corporate Chair and the gala’s Underwriter, Howard Solomon, Chairman and CEO of Forest Laboratories, Inc. was Pharmaceutical Chair and the gala’s Official Corporate Sponsor, Muffie Potter Aston was the Corporate Sponsor Chair, Claudia Cohen, Susan Hess and Donna Dixon Aykroyd were the Live Auction Co-Chairs, Margo Catsimatidis was the Journal Chair, and Somers Farkas and Darlene Daggett were the Gift Bag Chairs. There was an exclusive and limited Live Auction of six fabulous lots and a phenomenal silent auction.

The cocktail reception for this black tie gala started at 6:30 PM., followed by dinner and dancing at 7:30 PM and a live auction and entertainment at 9:00 PM. Support levels were as follows: Tables at $50,000, $35,000, $25,000, $12,500, $10,000; Tickets at $5,000, $3,500, $2,500, $1,250 and $1,000.

The annual Rita Hayworth Gala is one of New York City’s most successful fundraising events. Over the past 20 years, it has raised more than $39 million. All funds raised through the Rita Hayworth Galas go towards Alzheimer’s Association research projects. Princess Yasmin Aga Khan established the Gala in memory of her mother, who suffered from the disease for many years before her death.

For information about Alzheimer's disease, contact the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-272-3900.
Susan Hess, Claudia Cohen, and Ellin Delsener
Anne Hearst and Peter Boyle
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan
Barbara Walters
Joan Rivers
Vera Wang
Andrea Stark and Margo Catsimatidis
Les Moonves, Julie Chen, and Lois and Buzz Aldrin
Cornelia and Martin Bregman
L. to r.: Donna Dixon Aykroyd and Susan Hess; Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Eunice Shriver, and Maria Shriver; Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Maria Shriver.
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Michele Herbert
Kristin Gallipoli and Tommy Hilfiger
Somers Farkas and Joanne de Guardiola
Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner
Sale Johnson and John Steele
Mark Locks and Nancy Corzine
L. to r.: Walter Fischer, Nancy Corzine, and Howard Solomon; Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and Edward Schlossberg; Darlene Daggett and Nurit Kahane Haase.
Regis Philbin and Donna Dixon Aykroyd seeing red
The live auction
Ethan Stiefel, Gillian Murphy, Jesus Pastor, and Carlos Lopez

A few week ago the Junior Council of American Ballet Theatre held "A Magical Evening" aboard the Forbes Yacht, The Highlander, with Co-Chairs Blair Husain and Amanda Meigher, ABT Dancers Ethan Stiefel, Carlos Lopez, Gillian Murphy, and Jesus Pastor, and guests such as Susan Fales-Hill, Elizabeth Pyne, Merrill Hanley, Fazle Husain, and John Royall.

Cruising the New York Harbor with young arts patrons and ABT dancers, guests enjoyed dinner under the stars, toasting ABT’s exciting upcoming gala season at City Center, which commences with the annual fall gala on Wednesday, October 20th, 2004.

Countrywide Financial is the National Sponsor of American Ballet Theatre and Cole Haan is a Leading Benefactor. Graff Jewelers is the 2004 season sponsor of ABT at City Center. ABT’s 2004 Fall season at City Center is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Susan Fales-Hill, Peter Lyden, and Anka Palitz
Sloan and Sara McClure with Blair Husain
Ashton Crosby, Phil Bartow, and Bill Marino
Fazle and Blair Husain
Bagpiping on The Highlander
L. to r.: Susan Fales-Hill, Fred Seegal, Kevin McKenzie, Blair Husain, and Sara McClure; Susan Fales-Hill, Blair Husain, and Amanda Meigher.
Julia Wallace, Honorary Co-Chair, hosted the kickoff lunch for the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House 17th Annual Holiday Bazaar at Doubles on Thursday, September 23rd. Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Meigher and Quest Magazine were honored as long time supporters of the Bazaar.

The Bazaar, held at Sotheby's, 72nd & York, opens with the Preview Party on Wednesday, November 17th from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM; followed by shopping days, Thursday, November 18th through Saturday, November 20th. All funds raised are for children's programs at the Neighborhood House.

Preview party tickets: Friends $125, Stars’ $300, Super Stars’ $500 (“Super Star & Star ticket buyers may begin shopping and bidding one hour before Preview opens.)

Holiday Bazaar hours – November 18th, 19th and 20th from 10 a.m. to 5 PM (free admission).

For tickets and information please call 212-744-5022 x 1355.
Mark Gilbertson, Teresa Grimm, Nancy Baker, John Rosselli, Chris Meigher, Blakely Griggs, Diana Quasha, Eva Dillon, Sydney Shuman, Bunny Williams, Grace Meigher, and Julia Wallace
Mireya D'Angelo and Eva Dillon
L. to r.: Julia Wallace and Diana Quasha; Blakely Griggs, Nancy Wekselbaum, and Nancy Baker; Teresa Grimm and John Rosselli.

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October 13, 2004, Volume IV, Number 156
Photographs by DPC/NYSD.com; Tara Todras-Whitehill/PMc (Rita Hayworth) & Neil Rasmus/PMc (LHNH)

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