Anyone for tennis?

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Lining up outside the Guggenheim. Photo: JH.

Thursday, July 20, 2023. Well, yesterday was not quite as hot as we’ve been experiencing lately. Only 78 degrees with an 81 degree real feel and back to the mid-70s at night. And no sudden drenching showers (that didn’t cut the heat). So we have that to be grateful for. 

Tobie and me at another neighborhood resto a few years back.

This past Tuesday night I had dinner at Sette Mezzo with Tobie Roosevelt. The place was packed as if the Summer was over and heading into the New Year. Sette is often very busy but in these past few weeks they’ve had their sparse days. I’m sure it’s that way all over town. However, it’s a need for people to get out and be around other people in these times. There’s a reassurance quality to it.

Dinner. We were seated at a table next to the entrance so we got an arm’s length look to everyone coming and going. It’s an unnoticeable people-watching; even uplifting in a way, to see so many joining the crowd. Naturally Tobie and I were taking it all in, checking to see if we recognized anyone. Suddenly Tobie said, “Did you see Billie Jean King?”

I had, or thought I had. Standing no more than three feet from our table, waiting with the arrivals to be seated. I hadn’t seen her in years. I recall once having a conversation with her although I can’t remember when or why. What I do remember is what a nice down-to-earth woman she was/is.  

It’s been 20-25 years, and she looks very much the same. Maybe a little older but still looking like herself. She was smartly dressed in what evidently is her uniform for socializing: a Billie Blue blazer with a round collar over dark slacks and simple but smartlooking lower heeled black shoes.

I wasn’t certain at first if it were she, but then Gigi and Harry Benson entered the restaurant. And watching Harry, I could see he was looking in Billie’s direction to get her attention. And he did.

I then knew if Harry knew her, it must be she, since in his long and amazing career he’s photographed the world of the last seven decades, and he always catches the essence. 

After everyone was seated, Gigi came over to the table to ask if we had seen Billie Jean King. 

At Sette: Tennis legend Billie Jean King with Harry and Gigi Benson and their daughter, Wendy Benson Landes, who had flown in from Los Angeles for the closing party of Harry’s exhibit, “A Moment In Time,” at the Southampton Arts Center.

Of course. “I looked up from our table,” she starts to explain as if we hadn’t, “and in walks the famed tennis legend Billie Jean King who was with Tory Burch. Wonder if a new tennis clothing line is in the works.”

“Harry photographed her at Wimbledon in 1964!” Gigi continued: “He actually drove her from London’s Westbury Hotel (where all the tennis players stayed) to the stadium for practice, and to practice her curtsy for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the games.”

Tennis legend Billie Jean Moffitt on the move at Wimbledon in the early ’60s, photographed by Harry Benson.
Here is another photo of Billie Jean taken at Wimbledon in June 1964 by Harry, of course!

Meanwhile the crowds are still Out There, east, north, west. For example, more than 800 guests attended attended the Parrish Art Museum’s 2023 Midsummer Dance and Dinner honoring Katharina Otto-Bernstein, Fred and Robin Seegal, and artists Eddie Martinez, Sam Moyer, and Hank Willis Thomas. The two events raised more than $1.2 million for the Museum’s programs and education initiatives.  

The Museum welcomed more than 460 guests to the Saturday Midsummer Dinner. The 2-day outdoor event took place on July 14 & 15 at the Museum and raised over $1.2 million in support of the Museum’s programs and education initiatives.

Artist honoree Sam Moyer, Deborah Willis (mother of Artist honoree Hank Willis Thomas), and Artist honoree Eddie Martinez.
L. to r.: Robert Wilson and Katharina Otto-Bernstein; Robin and Fred Seegal.

All of the honorees works were on view in the landmark Museum anniversary exhibition Artists Choose Parrish. It was also a celebration of the Museum’s milestone 125th anniversary. Those in attendance included Gale and Ira Drukier, Philip Schmerbeck from Herzog & de Meuron, Alicia G. Longwell, Michéle and Steven Pesner, and Philip Isles from The Robert Lehman Foundation. Funds raised at the annual benefit event support the Museum’s exhibitions, education initiatives, and programs. 

Parrish Director Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Montagut greeted attendees, acknowledged legacy honorees, and introduced Parrish Trustees and Dinner Co-Chairs Aliya LeeKong and Debbie Bancroft, who presented awards to the artists and philanthropic honorees.

L. to r.: Gala Co-Chairs Aliya LeeKong and Deborah F. Bancroft; Phyllis Stevens.

Jennifer Wright of Christie’s led a paddle raise in support of the Museum’s programs, exhibitions, and education initiatives. Susan Meisel, the artist whose work is featured on the Parrish’s 125th anniversary commemorative poster for the Museum, addressed the audience. Ramírez-Montagut thanked guests and invited them to end the evening with dancing in the theater to music by DJ M.O.S. During the cocktail hour in the sculpture garden, a fashion presentation courtesy of Max Mara, one of the presenting sponsors, featured 10 models wearing the Resort 2024 Collection, Septem Flores.

A fashion presentation courtesy of Max Mara.

Notable guests at the dinner included artists Alice Aycock, Nanette Carter, Jeremy Dennis, Ralph Gibson, Joanne Greenbaum, Sheree Hovsepian, Mel Kendrick, Claude Lawrence, Eddie Martinez, Suzanne McClelland, Sam Moyer, Alix Pearlstein, Ugo Rondinone, Leslee Stradford, John Torreano, Nina Yankowitz, Joe Zucker; philanthropist and author Veronica Atkins, producer Keith Barish, celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, philanthropist Inga Maren Otto, Max Mara USA CEO Cristian Notari, director/visual artist Robert Wilson, Chief Brand Officer and Co-Owner of Wölffer Estate Vineyard Joey Wölffer, Deborah Willis and Hank Thomas Sr., parents of artist honoree Hank Willis Thomas; Jose Tavarez, President, Bank of America New York City, Vice Chair, Head of Wealth Management Advisory; Sai de Silva, Jessica Wang, plus gallerists Robert Dimin, Connie Tilton, James Newton (Timothy Taylor), Madeline Warren (Hauser & Wirth), Joseph De Leon (Marianne Boesky), Jeannie Freilich Lisson), and Aaron Baldinger (Gladstone).

At the Friday Midsummer Dance event Co-Chairs Ivy Getty and Laurence Milstein, a Parrish Trustee, welcomed guests and introduced br0nz3_g0dd3ss and the special performance by Narcissister. Guests danced on the terrace and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Canard, Inc., amid décor by event designer Frank Alexander, NYC.

L. to r.: Wendy Finerman and Inga Maron Otto; Serena Bancroft, Deborah Bancroft, and Will Bancroft.
Randy Lampert, Maria Toro, Yanina Spivack, and Mónica Ramírez-Montagut.
Tyson Pratcher, Joy Pratcher, Mike Muse, Aren LeeKong, Brian Robinson, and Jessica Robinson.
Cristian Notari.
Alfred McCloy, Sharon Jacob, Stella Jacob, and Bill Jacob.
Alexandra Stanton, Steven Horowitz, and Yanina Spivack.
Trustee Notoya Green and Fred Mwangaguhunga.
Sai De Silva, Nina Runsdorf, and Jessica Wang.

Whereas, more than 300 guests attended the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s 19th Annual Hamptons Happening, a very popular and important social event in the season. Itwas held at the Bridgehampton estate of hosts Kenneth and Maria Fishel. More than $450,000 was raised!  It will be invested toward groundbreaking cancer research.

Dr. Samuel Waxman and Marion Waxman.

“Since its founding, SWCRF has invested more than $100 million towards collaborative cancer research,” said William T. Sullivan, the foundation’s executive director. “This year funds raised from the Hamptons Happening will support the launch of the SWCRF Mission Possible Research Program that will support six leading investigators this fall.”

At the event, chef Ralph Scamardella, EVP and Chief Culinary Officer, Tao Group Hospitality, was given this year’s Hospitality and Service Award, Lori and Scott Levine, co-founders of Scott’s Protein Balls, with the Outstanding Product Award, Denise Albert, CEO and co-founder of My Cancer Family, the Community Service Award, and Anna Zuckerman, Founder and Chief Designer of Anna Zuckerman is the 2023 recipient of the Fashion Cares Award.

Guests enjoyed a night of delicious tastings from dozens of chefs, restaurants, and beverage companies as well as a live auction by the event’s official auctioneer: Heritage Auctions.

Among the attendees with Dr. Samuel Waxman and Marion Waxman, were:  Chef Scamardella, Lori Levine, Scott Levine, Anna Zuckerman, Denise Albert, Ken Fishel, Maria Fishel, Bess Freedman, Mark D. Friedman, Jamie Koff, Bess Freedman, Bryan Griffin, Elena Gibbs, Erica Feinberg, Chris Wragge, Sarah Wragge, Bill Sullivan, Harry Carson, Jean Shafiroff and Pamela Morgan.

Kenneth Fishel, Maria Fishel, Jeanne Schayes, Alexandra Fishel, Dr Bernard Schayes, Bradley Fishel, Julie Auclair, and Dave Auclair.
L. to r.: Pamela Morgan; Harry Carson
Karen Amster Young, Roberta Kramer, and Bill Sullivan.
L. to r.: Bess Freedman; Sarah Wragge, Chris Wragge, and family.
Cagri Kanver and Yilmaz Güney.
L. to r.: Jamie Koff; Mark Friedman.
L. to r.: Jean Shafiroff; Lori and Marvin Scott.

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