ART’S SAKE: While Francois Pinault awaits a verdict in California in the Executive Life case, he’s on the move in Italy. Speculation is heating up in Europe that Pinault will buy Venice’s Palazzo Grassi to showcase his extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. A spokesman for the retail and luxury magnate, who controls France’s PPR, declined to comment. But sources familiar with the matter said Pinault has already made an offer to buy the 18th-century landmark on the Grand Canal. A decision on whether the municipality of Venice will approve Pinault’s offer is expected as soon as next week, sources said. Pinault’s interest in the prestigious property comes as he experiences growing frustration with plans to create an ambitious contemporary art foundation outside of Paris. Administrative red tape has stymied the project to transform an industrial island in the Seine River, with, among other buildings, Pinault’s museum. A source said Pinault remains committed to the foundation. But that taking control of Palazzo Grassi would, in the meantime, allow him to stage temporary exhibits of his collection.
THINK PINK: Diane von Furstenberg is teaming up with Teens for the Cure to host a mother-daughter fashion show and shopping event Friday night at her West Village studio. The gathering will benefit the New York City chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
SNYDER’S SALUTE: For 36 years, the 21 Club’s maitre d’ Bruce Snyder has welcomed guests, and Sunday night they turned out in force to toast him on his retirement. William Donaldson, Philip Miller, Drew Nierpont, Leroy Neiman, Ralph Destino, Phyllis George, James Destino, Edward and Tricia Nixon Cox and Connie Ann Phillips were among the 600 who poured into the jockey-happy joint.
Several reminisced about “21 at 21” birthday cakes, boozy nights and Salvation Army Christmas carolers. Laurence Leeds recalled how in 1929 his late father once planned to meet George Gershwin after the opening of “Wintergreen for President” at 21 when it was still a speakeasy. But the composer arrived early, didn’t look familiar and was turned away. Embarrassed by the gaffe, the then-owners threw a party for Gershwin and the elder Leeds the following night.
William O’Shaughnessy, who was tucked into a booth with his wife, Nancy, said Snyder “picked up the mantle and became Mr. 21, and he did it with elegance, dignity and charm.” The broadcaster said, “I was talking to Mario Cuomo today and he said, ‘Bruce Snyder sounds like a Prussian general but he has a voice like an English poet. But why do the Irish like him so much?’”
George said she has known Snyder through her five careers. “No matter who was in the room, Bruce always made you feel like tonight is your turn to be important.
“Who else could keep presidents, sportscasters, movie stars and business titans — people with big egos — and keep them placated?” George continued. “He is also a great listener and if he ever wrote a book, we’d all be in trouble.”
There has been interest in a book, but no one has pursued it, Snyder said. There would certainly be plenty to draw from. Greeting the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the early Seventies, chatting with George H.W. Bush, who sometimes walked over from the United Nations for a solitary lunch, or seating Ronald and Nancy Reagan at a table that Gerald Ford had just used, Snyder said. “So many out-of-the-ordinary things happened so much that you don’t really take note of them,” he said. “It would have to be someone who knows how to draw it out of me.”