No one has to tell New York’s cultural institutions and the caring people who support them that, as the song goes, “money, money, money makes the world go ’round.” Unless lucre can be lured to these seats of learning, they are unable to flourish or sometimes even stay alive. So how gladsome the tidings that the pride of the city, The New York Public Library’s Library Lions 2004 benefit, raised more than $1.5 million to sweeten its book fund.
This year’s Library Lions medals were presented to “four figures of creative achievement”: conductor James Conlon, soprano Renee Fleming, scholar and author Henry Louis Gates Jr. and David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. Library president Paul LeClerc and chairman Samuel C. Butler did the honors, and the consummate actress Marian Seldes was the hostess of a tribute to the honorees, who reflected how they have used and relied on the library during the course of their achievements.
This party always draws the crème de la crème of what is usually referred to as the crème de la crème around here — a bevy of guests who are the souls of generosity, beautifully dressed and always sweet-smelling. Lighting up the library the other night were worthies and co-chairmen such as Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Catie and Donald Marron, Princess Firyal of Jordan and Lionel Pincus, Louise and Henry Grunwald and Elizabeth and Felix Rohatyn. Among the outstanding supporters were Dorothy and Lewis Cullman, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, Candice Bergen and Marshall Rose, Barbara Walters, Eliza and Alexander Bolen, Lynn de Rothschild, Susan and Donald Newhouse, Catherine Farley and Jerry Speyer, Betty Ann and Charles Gwathmey, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Shirley Lord and Abe Rosenthal, Carolyne Roehm, Gayfryd and Saul Steinberg, Susan Fales-Hill and Aaron Hill and others too cultured to mention.
It was all terribly festive with cocktails in Astor Hall, which had been transformed into a rustic winter setting with rough-hewn cocktail tables roughly hewn especially for the evening. In the Celeste Bartos Forum, where dinner was served, guests swept into a lush forest of delicate white birch trees hanging with garlands of crystals woven into the decor like sparkling flakes of fallen snow. Dramatic chandeliers of birch and crystal pulled the eye to the grand iron skylight that is such a striking feature of the room. The decor was done by David Monn and Glorious Food provided the hot meal of smoked salmon, chicken scallopini and a dessert of warm brownie pudding topped with vanilla ice cream. I just love brownie pudding with a big blob of ice cream on top, don’t you?
While most of us have started thinking about all the extravagant holiday gifts we won’t be getting — or maybe we will — New York’s glass-half-full types will wait until January to get the really good stuff such as gold snuff boxes and various objets de vertu at the Winter Antiques Show at the Seventh Regiment Armory that will star 74 of the most renowned experts in the decorative and fine arts. This is a benefit for the East Side House Settlement, which does so much good work for the people of the South Bronx.
To get everyone in the mood, Reed Krakoff, the big man at Coach, and his decorator wife, Delphine, are opening their chic town house for the event’s kick-off party next week. The Krakoffs are the honorary chairmen of the show’s Young Collectors’ Night. Governor and Mrs. George Pataki are the show’s honorary chairmen, Arie Kopelman is again the chairman, Oscar de la Renta is the honorary vice-chairman and Joan Young and Elle Decor’s Margaret Russell are the chairmen of opening night.
Surely, you’ve seen the Krakoffs’ house, designed top to bottom by Delphine. It has been spread all over the pages of Vogue and Elle Decor in all its glory. Although the night may sound like a big social thing, for the Krakoffs, it’s just another easy night at home with a few friends. Said friends include Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Mario Buatta, Olivia Chantecaille, Jamie Drake, Celerie Kemble, Emily Keno and Susan Fales-Hill.
The Duchess of York, also known as Sarah Ferguson, who was poised to pose nude along with Kate Moss, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Rachel Hunter for the book “Four Inches,” has come to her senses and decided to spare her audience. She’s terribly candid about it: “I wouldn’t want to put anyone off their breakfast. Imagine me nude — yuck.” (That’s her quote, mind you.) So, photographer Pamela Hanson wisely covered the Duchess with a black sheet — so, “you can’t see anything but the bottom of my legs and my arms.” Sarah tells this to anyone who will listen, but she hasn’t gotten around to the Queen just yet. You should know that the sales of “Four Inches” will support the Elton John Aids Foundation.
Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones claim to be the best of friends, but there is a bit of squabbling about who is to get top billing in their new movie, “Oceans 12.” The movie’s poster lists Jones fourth, after George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, while Julia comes in 8th, after Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac. Apparently Julia’s not amused and really, who would be?
Mariska Hargitay, Chris Meloni and the cast of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will headline Safe Horizon’s benefit at Crobar on Nov. 15. The chairman and the committee include such as Stephanie March and her fiancé, chef Bobby Flay; Douglas Hannant; Bebe Neuwirth; Cornelia Guest, and Nicole Miller. Elisabeth Kieselstein-Cord, Lydia Hearst, Ashley Stark and their friends will gather together at Stuart Weitzman on Monday to kick up their heels in support of the party. There’s a joke there, somewhere.