Mr. Frick built his dream house at the beginning of the 20th century. He had been leasing the Cornelius Vanderbilt III’s mansion on 51st Street and Fifth Avenue. It was there, in the Vanderbilt house where Frick’s sense and/or need of establishing a residence with a collection in New York came to fruition. I’m speculating only because he was a Pittsburgher who came to New York for what it offered a man of his means and accomplishment.
The property on the avenue between 70th and 71st Streets had been the location of the Lenox Library, a large limestone building constructed in 1877. At the end of the 19th Century when the central New York Public Library building was opening, James Lenox, bibliophile and philanthropist as well as owner of the original plot, donated his Library to the central library.
Mr. Frick knew what he wanted – which was that location. He agreed to buy it and wait until the Lenox Library was moved to its new location and the building be razed before he could even begin.
It took several years, and the mansion wasn’t completed for living until 1912-1913. I recall these details to emphasize the “specialness” of the Frick Collection which is also its headquarters. They are the masterpiece of the Collector Himself. And, a visit to the Collection, is a visit to the man’s house. It is awesome and serene – at least for the moments one is inside.
The Autumn Dinner plays a unique role in the social landscape of New York. This year’s honored guest was Stephen Schwarzman, who when he came to the podium had a personal story about his relationship to the Frick. He recounted for us his engagement party with his now wife Christine when he was able to “hire” the space for a private party. In his description was his awe, the same awe we all share, being at the Frick, in Mr. Frick’s masterpiece. It made for a very special moment in a special evening. Steve Schwarzman also opened up the museum to another avenue of creating revenue.
Proceeds from the event will help support the full range of programs of The Frick Collection, including educational and curatorial initiatives, and the Frick Art Reference Library. Each year the dinner raises more than $1,000,000.
On this recent evening,Frick Chairman Betty Eveillard welcomed everyone from the podium in the West Gallery, thanking guests for their generous support of the Frick and for joining the museum in celebrating the evening’s honoree. After the main course, Frick Director Ian Wardropper toasted the honoree and presented him with a commemorative silver tray donated by Tiffany & Co.
Photographs by Angela Pham/BFA.com, Christine A. Butler, & George Koelle