Out with the old, in with the new

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Out with the old, in with the new. Photo: JH.

Yesterday was cold in New York. Cold and grey. The city is still quiet. JH and I went down to Michael’s for a business lunch. It was Wednesday but it wasn’t the Wednesday you usually see at Michael’s. There were probably fifteen tables occupied. It looked like a holiday. Some of the staff could leave early.

New York is like this. After lunch on Madison Avenue and 55th we caught a cab to share uptown. There were four vacant in line at the light. That’s very unusual for a business day in that part of town. But not this week.

The cabbie, it turned out, was Pakistani. Grey hair and beard trimmed and styled obviously, the guy had a big, outgoing personality. He almost immediately engaged us in conversation … about how quiet the city was. From there we moved to the state of the air (pollution) in Mumbai about which our cabbie had quite a bit to say about the state of the state (India) although he did not compare it to Pakistan but rather to rant on humorously about life and the state of the air in that part of the world.

Doing all the talking, from there he leapt into religion, making ironic/humorous remarks about the Islams and then the Jews, and then the Christians. An Asian version of the human comedy. We had stand-up behind the wheel and he was funny. Not mean, or vicious, but with a clear eye for the absurd in our lives. He shudda/cudda been a segment on Saturday Night Live, although he wasn’t acting; this was his personality.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, down among the sheltering palms, people are congregating for the pure pleasure of it. Down where it’s sunny and warm.

What would Henry Flagler think?

Like, Palm Beach. Which is now in season. That means that there is a lot going on every night from now until late March. Dinner parties, charity galas, receptions, lectures, restaurant-going, golf, tennis, 24/7. It’s a far far different world from the Palm Beach that Henry Flagler created with an eye on making it the American version of Monte Carlo. He did succeed, big time, but everything changes.

One of its landmarks is the Colony Hotel, the boutique hotel of classic British architecture strategically located with quick access to the beach on one side and Worth Avenue on the other. It opened its doors 72 years ago this year, and has played hosts to Presidents, European royalty, movie stars.

The hotel has recently completed a five-year renovation, top to bottom, including its guest rooms, suites, villas and penthouses. Our friend, the ever-enterprising Steven Stolman had a hand in it. The Colony’s CEO Sarah Wetenhall asked Steven to create a retrospective from the hotel’s photo archive of its visitors for their new bar and grill.

The following is a sample of his choices which he is sharing with us. These photos date as far back as the 1960s, but they don’t look “old” – although most of the subjects are no longer with us. Joseph Tankoos, for example, was a New York real estate investor who also owned the Colony during that period.

Cathy and Joseph Tankoos with Robert Wetenhall (Davidoff). Joe Tankoos, a New York real estate investor, was at the time of this photograph the owner of the Colony. He also once owned the Hotel Delmonico on 59th Street and Park Avenue, later acquired by Donald Trump who renovated the building and turned it to condominiums, one of which is occupied by his daughter Ivanka and husband and family.
Brownie McLean, Robert Wetenhall, Mary Sanford, and Estée and Joseph Lauder (Davidoff). Brownie McLean and Mary Sanford made their mark in Palm Beach terms by marriage — Brownie had married Jock McLean (of the Hope Diamond McLeans), and Mrs. Sanford through her marriage to socialite polo player Laddie Sanford, known as an heir to a carpet fortune. Mrs. Lauder was married to Mr. Lauder, father of her sons, but she herself made her mark even in Palm Beach as a fragrance tycoon.
Poolside fashion show (Slim Aarons).
A model photographed poolside (Slim Aarons).
Dustin Hoffman (Davidoff).
Jane Dudley and Bob Hope (Davidoff).
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Davidoff). The Duke and the Duchess of Windsor were annual guests in Palm Beach of Anita and Robert Young, a financier famous for his investments in the New York Central and Chesapeake and Ohio railroads. His wife Anita was the sister of artist Georgia O’Keeffe.
Tony Randall (Davidoff).

Meanwhile, down in our nation’s capitol, Smithsonian’s Freer Sackler Gallery hosted a fancy dress fête “Found in Translation: Spirit of Tokyo,” celebrating Japanese culture and performance.

Many New Yorkers headed south for the party, including Dame Jillian Sackler, Alice Kandel, Elburn and Peter Kimmelman, Ann Nitze, and Sana Sabagh. A highlight of the evening was a performance by artist Mariko Mori, Oneness, which culminated in each member of the audience stepping forward in turn to receive a pearl placed at the base of her installation.

A performance by artist Mariko Mori

Chase F. Robinson, the recently appointed Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian, as well as Richard Kurin, former Acting Director and now Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, both thanked Dame Jillian for her continued support of the institution and its mission to bring understanding of the East to the West.

The evening was made possible through the generosity of Sana Sabbagh. Additional support was provided by Baroness Veronique Bich, Mr. Jeffrey P. Cunard and Ms. Mariko Ikehara, Shirley Z. Johnson and Charles Rumph, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Kimmelman, May Liang and James Lintott, The Honorable William A. Nitze and Mrs. Nitze, Katharine Rayner, Ms. Jane Richards and Dame Jillian Sackler, DBE, with special thanks to Nü Androids.

Kazutoshi Aikawa and Richard Kurin
Richard Kurin, Elbrun and Peter Kimmelman, Dame Jillian Sackler, and Chase Robinson
Mr. and Mrs. Katzutoshi Akawa with Elbrun and Peter Kimmelman
Dame Jillian Sackler, Sana Sabbagh, and Ann Nitze
Carol Huh, Antoine van Agtmael, Emily van Agtmael, and Jeffrey Cunard
Erdal Sarper and Isma Zeghmi
Jane Cafritz and Susan Pillsbury
A group of D.C. policy professionals enjoying the evening

Photographs by Colleen Dugan/Freer|Sackler Gallery of Art

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