Mrs. Joseph Verner Reed, the grande dame with the hand that cradled the Waspy rock of Hobe Sound, died recently and left her share of the island, 60 percent of the Jupiter Island Club, to her sons and heirs. Obviously, Permelia Reed owned the largest number of shares in the club, and now some of her heirs would like to sell them. The club has been assessed at $60 million, but there are members who say that’s a high price. So far, they are keeping their checkbooks to themselves.
For years, the Jupiter Island Club resolved its operating losses with profits from its saleable real estate, but the island is now completely developed, down to the last pot of geraniums. There are no more properties for sale. You see, Hobe Sound is terminally exclusive, and once those coconuts settle in, few fall far from the palms.
Permelia Reed liked old money, the Ivy League, athletic grace, good manners, proper attire, afternoon tea at the golf house and her matriarchal reign over that hive of Waspdom 40 minutes north of Palm Beach. She ruled with an iron hand in a silken glove.
Hobe Sound, an enclave of 500 families, like-minded people from such Eastern and Midwestern dynasties as the Warners, Hamms, Fords, Baldwins, Bushes and, of course, Reeds, is reachable by a bridge at each end of the island, and Permelia was the gatekeeper. She was visible everywhere, omnipresent at every game, party and meeting for so many years that nobody remembers when she wasn’t there. And they remember too every time she delivered the ultimate insult to a club applicant who didn’t appeal to her standards: a dreaded black sweater signifying ostracism to the nth degree. With her rigid set of rules, which did not exclude a sense of fair play, she maintained a superb community and club.
If Hobe Sounders sound stiff and starchy, remember they go to a party every night during the season, but they’re not up till all hours hooting and hollering. Wasps like to buzz in the evening, go home early and get up with and go out in the sun. Think you have a chance of crossing the bridge?
This has not exactly been “The Year of Happiness” for Claudia and Nelson Peltz with, for instance, Claudia’s sister, Chandi Duke Heffner, suing the estate of her late adopted mother, tobacco heiress Doris Duke, in a let-it-all-hang-out suit guaranteed to muddy the waters for maybe years to come.
Next came the sexual harassment suit filed against Peltz by a disgruntled housemaid at his $18 million oceanfront Palm Beach estate. Some Palm Beachers dismiss this as another instance of litigious servants intimidating former employers, but those things can be dicey.
And to really make their day, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser has slapped a $23.3 million appraisal on Montsorrel, the palatial place Claudia and Nelson bought in 1987 from the late railroad heiress Anita Young. What a bit. Kicking and screaming, the Peltzes paid the tax but instituted a lawsuit a few hours later which states the property appraiser seriously discriminated against Montsorrel, treating it quite differently from comparable oceanfront estates. We shall see what we shall see.
A short sprint down the sand from Montsorrel, the George Colemans have had the real estate nightmare of nightmares. For all intents and purposes, the California couple had sold their sprawling residence to a Wall Street dealmaker — except the dealmaker, who amassed millions in the Eighties, backed out, saying the financial aspects of his divorce bounced off the Richter scale. (Did he expect his soon-to-be ex was going to be Mrs. Nice Guy?)
Believing it was a done deal, Dawn Coleman had a professional agency mount a chic yard sale with personal invitations, ads in the paper, etc. The sale lasted two days and included everything from minor art treasures and pool furniture to racks and racks of Dawn’s used Valentinos and George’s old shoes and expensive sports gear. They are said to be in a high-class snit.
Julia Roberts — who you may remember first met one of her lovers, Jason Patric — on the plane coming back from the Canyon Ranch in Arizona, was at the Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires the weekend before this one. We do know she went there with man trouble on her mind, but we don’t know if she met anyone hunky on the plane coming back. Anyhow, there are already enough men in her life, so she may have been getting pumped up at the health farm the better to cope with the heavy rumors hitting her from all sides about those men in her life. Mary Tyler Moore was there the same weekend. Without man trouble on her mind. If she does have any, she can always see a doctor — the one she has at home.
Catching Up With The Parties: Beverly Sills, looking cheeri-beeri-bee in a brilliant red dress, was the guest of honor at a dinner given by the cosmetics princess Gale Hayman and her scientist husband Dr. William Haseltine at Mortimer’s for about 30 Beverly lovers. The reason for it all was to congratulate Beverly on her big new job as head of Lincoln Center, where you can look for a lot of snap, crackle and pop once the dynamic redhead takes over. Whatever, she was only too happy to tell everyone how terribly thrilled she is over her new challenge — and her new office. “Such windows,” she trilled. Thrilled right along with Bev were such as her husband Peter Greenough, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Chessy Rayner, Judy and Alfred Taubman, Roz Jacobs, Amanda Burden, Bobby Short, Bob Colacello, Gil Shiva, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Shirley and Abe Rosenthal, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Blaine and Robert Trump, Barbara Walters, Joan Rivers with Oren Lehman, etc., etc., etc.
Today’s the day Central Park will be alive with the sound of 1,100 adorables in spring suits and the odd hat — no barefoot in the park for them — all turning out for the Frederick Law Olmstead Awards Luncheon given by the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. Staring at the ladies and the greenery — both welcome after 14 snow storms — will even be some men too. How exciting!
The chairmen of the luncheon are Jessie Araskog, Robin Gerstner, Kathy Greenberg, Anne Johnson and Karen LeFrak and those Park supporters honored will be Nancy Missett, Fernanda Niven and John Rosenwald. Cocktails will be served by the Bethesda Terrace Fountain and luncheon in a tent on The Mall. The linens and topiaries have been designed and donated by Slatkin & Company and Glorious Food will provide the chicken hash and assorted dainties. Expected are such as Hilary Geary, president of the Women’s Committee, Phyllis Cerf Wagner, Betty Sherrill, Berge and Soffia Wathne, Nancy Kissinger, Lauren Veronis, Bootsie and Van Galbraith, Carolina Herrera, Carolyn and Bill Chaney, Mary Rockefeller, Charlotte and Anne Ford and a plethora of others in full bloom. And in case you haven’t checked out the Spring Table Settings Show at Tiffany’s, please do. The tables were designed by the luncheon co-chairmen and feature architectural landmarks of our beloved Central Park. But more of that anon.