Palm Beach Social Diary – Sotheby’s previews + Wellington’s Jumpers + Manalapan’s Memories

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Artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita's 1923 painting Youki au chat will be on the block in March at Sotheby's London venue during its March sales of Impressionist, Modern, Surrealist, and Contemporary paintings, works on paper and sculptures. For Palm Beachers unable to scratch golf or bridge obligations who may want to bid by phone or online, on Saturday night Sotheby's invited Palm Beach clients and guests to a preview reception featuring highlights from the upcoming From Rodin to Richter exhibition that will include works by Picasso, Picabia, Chagall, and Kandinsky.

On what might have been one of the season’s most beautiful winter nights Sotheby’s Palm Beach welcomed more than 100 clients and guests to a prelude of the auction house’s forthcoming March fine art sales at its London-New Bond Street location.  Ashley Schiff Ramos,  the company’s new director of its Royal Palm Way bureau, and Tad Smith, president and CEO of Sotheby’s, greeted guests at the intersection of aesthetics and architecture — the entrance hall at Villa Tranquilla, an Addison Mizner-designed oceanfront mansion being offered by Sotheby’s International Real Estate. Though perhaps not as captivating as the Gustav Klimt or the Réne Magritte, and certainly not as measurably fascinating as Villa Tranquilla’s current incarnation, I have included some of photographer  Ellen Glendinning Ordway’s period snapshots of the house.

Ellen was a frequent houseguest  during the late 1940s and early 1950s when the house was owned by her longtime friends  Alexis Felix du Pont Jr. and his second wife Ann Marvell du Pont.  Her camera documents some of the house’s original Mizner features and the du Pont’s guests. The day before the splendid reception, I navigated overland through innumerable low-speed school zones to Wellington. There I happened on some of the world’s best show jumpers in a daytime equestrian competition without the crowd or glare from the stadium’s flood lights that can be as blinding as solar flares. Earlier, I spent an evening in Manalapan as part of the town’s lecture series where I spoke on how the town opted early on to be “for the few rather than the many,”  much like Gulf Stream, while Palm Beach has always been about the how much and the as many as possible.

28 January 2017
Sotheby’s Palm Beach at Villa Tranquilla
640 South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach

Steve and JoAnna Myers are welcomed by Ashley Schiff Ramos, center, director of Sotheby’s Palm Beach.
Tad Smith, president and CEO of Sotheby’s.
Villa Tranquilla, view from the loggia across the courtyard.
Alfred Sisley. Effet de neige á Louveciennes, 1894. Oil on canvas. Est. $7,400,000-9,800,000 USD.
Gustav Klimt. Girl in the Foliage, 1896. Oil on canvas. Est. $1,500,000-2,200,000 USD.
Villa Tranquilla, 640 South Ocean Boulevard. Guests arrived at the main entrance on El Brillo Way.
Brigitte Gardey and Robert Young.
Linda Chen, Alan Stevens, and Candia Fisher.
Paintings were exhibited in each of the ground floor oceanside rooms allowing guests a less congested undisturbed appreciation of the art works.
Courtyard pool, looking east to the principal rooms along the oceanside.
Cristina Condon, listing real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty-Palm Beach, is asking $44.9 million for Villa Tranquilla.
Courtyard, east arcade, view toward a service area.
Courtyard, window detail.
David Ober and Kate Waterhouse.
Courtyard, lantern.
Courtyard, elaborated doorway.
Cynthia Friedman.
René Magritte. Le repas de noces, 1940. Gouache on paper. Est. $1,100,000-1,500,000 USD.
Susan Van Pelt.
Loggia, view to the east arcade leading to the principal oceanside rooms.
Loggia, perspective. Ray Wakefield and David Miller.
Salvador Dalí. Moment de transition. Oil on canvas. Est. $7,400,000-9,800,000 USD.
Frances Webster Peter.
Villa Tranquilla, east elevation overlooking the ocean.
East elevation, oceanside exterior.
Lighting, detail.
Marcia and Joe Caldwell have a moment in one of Villa Tranquilla’s oceanside rooms.
Courtyard. The loggia opens to the north overlooking the pool.
Courtyard, looking southeast.
Nightfall in the cloistered courtyard.

Villa Tranquillo, 1946-1949
Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection

Although originally known from its inception as Villa Tranquillo, according to all contemporaneous records, the DeGrimm Renfro house at 640 South Ocean Boulevard is now referenced as Villa Tranquilla. After her mother died, Ordway and her sister sold the family’s Palm Beach house Casa dei Leoni. For the next several seasons, she was a houseguest at Club du Pont, as she called Villa Tranquillo during her stays. Here are some of her photographs from that era.

L. to r.: Villa Tranquillo, main entrance on El Brillo, 1946. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.; Villa Tranquillo, main entrance on El Brillo Way. 2017.
Villa Tranquillo, poolside,1947. Alexis Felix du Pont, Jr. and Ann Marvel du Pont. After her husband died in 1949, Ann du Pont continued to spend winters at Palm Beach with family and friends. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo, 1947. The original L-shaped Addison Mizner-designed house has been subject to additions, floorplan revisions and alterations. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo. Kay Denckla and Ailsa Mellon. At the time, the enigmatic Ailsa Mellon was regarded as “the richest woman in America.” Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo, poolside. Betty Ordway Duke and her husband Anthony “Tony” Drexel Duke. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo, courtyard elevation view northeast toward the original Mizner designed staircase and entrance and triple-arched entrance into the living room. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo. Roddie Wanamaker works on his tan. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo. Hunter Marston and Felix du Pont. An underwater photography enthusiast, du Pont wrote Under Sea with Helmet and Camera (New York: Dodd, 1940) about his adventures in the Bahamas. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo. Ailsa Mellon, left, and Jane Marvel Scott, far right, join other guests in the buffet line. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Villa Tranquillo, Jack Kelly poolside. Several years later, Kelly’s daughter Grace married Prince Rainier of Monaco, forever changing the Kelly family’s already high-profile life.
March 1948. Feeding the birds along the ocean at Villa Tranquillo. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.

26 January 2017
Winter Equestrian Festival – Wellington
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

Twenty miles west of Worth Avenue Wellington Equestrian Partner’s annual winter competitions are underway. Greatly expanded since last year, the organization has added the Wanderers Club golf course and International Polo Club to its portfolio. New York’s online bakery extraordinaire Ruby et Violette owned by the Mercer family sponsored Thursday’s FEI $35,000 Challenge Cup in the International Arena at Wellington’s 500-acre Equestrian showgrounds. The event attracted 80 topflight riders, among them, the show jumping world’s stellar competitors including Kent Farrington, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Georgina Bloomberg, Todd Minikus, Ben Maher, and Jessica Springsteen. After completing two faultless rounds, Eric Lamaze aboard Houston went back to the Artisan Farms stables with the $11,000 first prize. Meanwhile, I retreated to Tito’s Tacos for some midafternoon refreshments agasp from the 80+ temperature.

Here is a look among the bits and bridles.

Riders warm up in the Schooling Ring before entering the stadium arena. To the right, Aldine with rider Jordan MacPherson at the reins approaches a jump.
Thursday, 2:12 pm. Competitors’ view of entrance into the stadium where the competition was held. The arched bridge walkway allows spectators to circulate above the showgrounds without interrupting the riders.
Isabel Roman-Karanjan guides Ratina over double combination rails sponsored by Ruby et Violette -The Indulgent Baker.
Ratina makes the turn.
Ireland’s Kevin Babington jumps a single rail on Mark Q, landing 28th after four faults and a time of 75.31.
Daniel Bluman leaps a double combination, placing 48th on Bacara D’Archonfosse.
Hermes 2017 Talented Young Rider standings with Jennifer Gates among the five USA contenders. Last year the Gates family made headlines when their predisposition for privacy led to the completion of a $37+ million acquisition of all the properties on 18-acre Mallet Hill Court.
Jennifer Gates placed 57th on Pumped up Kicks owned by the family’s Evergate Stables (albeit, quite a beautiful horse).
Team Jennifer Gates after her round with 8 faults.
Irish equestrian Darragh Kenny riding Caliber 9.
Darragh Kenny.
With affable efficiency Lance Bennett operates the ingate, making sure the competition runs smoothly and riders are ready to enter the arena.
Vanessa Mannix awaits her go. She placed 9th with a clear opening round followed by four faults in the jump off.
Competitors finesse their jumps in the Schooling Ring.
Seen practicing before the jump off, Christine McCrea went on to place 8th on Nektarina owned by Candy Tribble.

Competitors size up the competition

The Wellington Look 2017

Charles Ancona, New York.
Taking breeches to another level.
Scene on the Wellington runway.
Jessica Springsteen sports a Ralph Lauren gold-and-red crest on her navy blazer and Tiger Lily competes with a signature Ralph Lauren saddle pad. Having previously been associated with Gucci, this is Springsteen’s first season at Wellington as a Ralph Lauren “brand ambassador.”
Tiger Lily clears the triple combination.
Riding one of the family’s Stone Hill Farm mounts, Springsteen placed 19th.
Ringside at the International Club.
Deborah Stevens rides Condor owned by Centennial Farm.
In the Riders Lounge a bowl of treats for the four-legged jumpers.
Jimmy Torano rode Day Dream to 7th place.
2:23 pm. Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya at the ready. He placed 5th with a clear first round followed by four faults in the jump off.
Sergio Alvarez Moya.
Between paddock and stadium.
Danny and Ron’s Dog Rescue tent attracted a crowd.

19 January 2017
Resort Class at Manalapan:
The Vanderbilts – La Coquille Club & Manalapan Club

This past week the Town of Manalapan invited me as their first guest speaker for the season’s Lecture Series held at the J. Turner Moore Memorial Library located on what was once the grounds of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan’s 35-acre estate that was later transformed into the Manalapan Club by Standard Oil scion Bill Benjamin. Several years ago Casa Alva was acquired by Gary and Kate Parr who embarked on restoring the main house and the grounds. Greeted by an engaging group of residents, I spoke on Manalapan and Hypoluxo Island’s development, the social and architectural influence of Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and his sister Consuelo, the former Duchess of Marlborough, and the role the La Coquille Club and the Manalapan Club played in making in keeping the town’s distinct ambiance.

J. Turner Moore Memorial Library, Point Manalapan. Following my presentation, more than 50 residents stayed for a reception and book signing.
Manalapan and Point Manalapan, c. 1930. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and his wife Gertrude Conaway were married in 1933, shortly after Vanderbilt’s mansion was completed in Manalapan. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Aunt Eleanor was married to Joseph Widener. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Eastover, Grand Hall. Some consider the Vanderbilt house as Treanor & Fatio’s finest Italian Renaissance adaptation. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
March, 1940. Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan. Resettling from France to Manalapan in 1934, Jacques and Consuelo Balsan lived at Casa Alva until the mid-1950s when they moved to Palm Beach. Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.
Casa Alva, c. 1935. The Balsans made improvements and additions to Casa Alva after almost every season. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
David Cheifetz, mayor of Manalapan, kindly introduced me. Mayor Cheifetz was elected in 2013. Incorporated in 1931, Manalapan’s two most popular mayors were lawyer Jerome Gedney, mayor between 1931 and 1945, and Harold Stirling “Mike” Vanderbilt who was mayor from 1952 until 1966. Vanderbilt served as a town councilman for 32 years and was designated “mayor emeritus” when he retired from public service.
Pat and Chauncey Johnstone. Mayor Pro Tem of Manalapan, Chauncey serves as president of the historic La Coquille Club now located within the Eau Palm Beach Resort, formerly the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Lisa Petersen, town clerk of Manalapan.
Sophia Isaac.
Gemini, 2000 South Ocean Boulevard. Though better known by its second owners, Loel and Gloria Guinness, Gemini was built in 1947 for Gerard Barnes Lambert, the pharmaceutical heir who was also Bunny Mellon’s father. Though Marion Sims Wyeth is credited with designing the original house, Lambert studied architecture at Columbia University following his undergraduate work at Princeton. The more than 15-acre ocean-to-lake estate with a unique under-the-road living area has reportedly been put on the market as a 33-bedroom/34-bath compound by the Ziff family for $195 million, having sent the past several years making major additions and alterations. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
March, 1955. La Coquille Club, Palm Beach Life magazine. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Architect Byron Simonson. Best known for his design of The Colony Hotel-Palm Beach and in addition to the La Coquille Club, Simonson is credited with the later alterations at Eastover for the Vanderbilts. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Point Manalapan, c. 1970. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Palm Beach-A Greater Grandeur

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