Friday, February 23, 2007

Karen LeFrak

A most interesting lady. Tiny little lady, bright sunny face, always very neatly turned out, often in soft colors. Long blonde hair; a style she might have had since girlhood. A ready smile and friendly but nevertheless with a certain abiding reserve. She and her husband, Richard (pictured) are active in many of the city’s major philanthropies. He is the son of the late Sam LeFrak who built an enormous apartment real estate empire in New York City. The elder Mr. LeFrak passed away this year after a long illness, leaving a centimillion dollar fortune divided (one hears) equally between his four children, and the business in the hands of his eldest son.

The aforementioned reserve of Mrs. LeFrak betrays a lively and intense interest and passion in: her family – she has two sons, both in their thirties; she raises championship standard poodles (if you have ever attended or watched a major dog show, such as the Westminster, you’ve seen her collect dozens of ribbons, most often blue), and she is an accomplished concert pianist.

The LeFraks are a very close couple.
Unlike many couples in their set, they rarely, if ever, are away from each other for a twenty-four hour period. They divide their time between Manhattan and their rambling Stanford White-inspired weathered shingle cottage near the ocean in Southampton. Mr. LeFrak devoted a long time to studying White interiors and authentically reproducing them for this house. The house has one remarkable room for two (or possibly three?) of her prize winning poodles, all light, white and airy (with cornices of dozens and dozens of blue ribbons) and everything needed for impeccable grooming and training (and play). It is an elaborate abode for the dogs and yet upon inspection, it is really just thorough, reliable and kind.

In another part of the house there is an octagonal (or sexagonal?) room off one of the main rooms, containing only a beautiful concert grand piano placed in the center, on which Karen LeFrak practices daily. There is an impeccability about the place, unfussy yet exacting. Dark, highly polished natural wood floors, lots of windows letting in lots of light, white walls, shades of white fabrics cover the furniture. You can see, you can feel, that the lady of the house (and no doubt the man too) is highly disciplined in pursuing and maintaining (her) interests, and that she realizes great ongoing satisfaction from them. Accomplishment, achievement, yet with a signature modesty, unheralded, unremarked about, yet remarkable. A most interesting lady. And a nice one too.