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Russian to the Rothschilds * Evelyn Scores a ‘10’ * Coco for President

The noted collector and historian, Lord Rothschild, or Jacob to his international friends in high places, is famous for his passion for the arts. There is scarcely an event, cultural or creative, that the charming and genial Jacob has not dipped his knowledgeable finger into, at home in England or abroad. He is an authority on paintings and architecture and the decorative arts, and even something as esoteric as chess pieces specially created for an exhibition at Somerset House in London commands his attention.

This story first appeared in the July 28, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As you read here before, ever since Putin came to visit the Queen, the English have gone a bit — more than a bit — à la Russe, Russian themes at parties and such. So it came to pass that Lord Rothschild and his only son, Nat, were hosts at a private dinner in Somerset House, not only to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, “The Art of Chess,” but also the tercentenary of the Foundation of St. Petersburg. The dinner was sponsored by Oleg Deripaska, the Russian magnate who is, of course, very rich. Jacob’s speech before dinner honored all Russians present and was translated into Russian by an interpreter.

There are no kitchens at Somerset House, so dinner was a catered affair, which was fine, but the glaring lighting was inquisitorial, as many of the grand guests there duly noted. In fact, Lord Rothschild caught it about that lighting from a couple of very influential ladies present. Women notice unflattering lighting more than men do, so in the future, it will behoove milord to think pink. Methinks he will.

“The Art of Chess” is a show of incredible 20th-century chess sets from private collections, including the only one ever designed by Fabergé and that for none other than Tsar Nicholas II. Among the 19 sets are designs by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, Yoko Ono, Josef Hartwig and even Damien Hirst, whose pieces in crystal and silver resemble fancy apothecary jars. You will be thrilled to hear, maybe, that there were no parts of pickled animals floating around inside.

Henry Kissinger was there with his wife, Nancy. There was a run on white suits that night, as Lady Rothschild wore one and so did Jayne Wrightsman of New York. Other guests were Princess Firyal of Jordan; banker Lionel Pincus; Lily Safra, who donated the beautiful fountains in the courtyard to Somerset in memory of her late husband, the billionaire banker, Edmond; interior designer David Mlinaric; Mary Lawrence, the remarkable woman who brought advertising to a new exciting level, and a mystery guest said to be the sole owner of a very small country, which is not only little but unspellable.

Mary Lawrence has brought her own life to a new exciting level. Her grand apartment in Belgravia, decorated by Mlinaric, is a London showplace like no other, modern in a very Mary way with vast, airy spaces and beautiful colors and fabrics. It was 3 1/2 years in the doing, planned while her late husband, Harding Lawrence, was still alive, and now it’s for sale.

Mary’s new life revolves around John Calley, the Sony executive, a man she was in love with 30 years ago before she met and married Harding. He has now come back into her life after all those years. So she is in love again and her plan is to be where John Calley is, and that’s a lot of places. She is now in Portofino with him and her grandchildren, boating on the sea every day and staying at the beautiful little hotel, Portofino Mare. In December, they will be at John’s house in British Columbia and wherever he goes in between, she’ll be there. Is that a love story?

The board of directors of the Spanish Institute is honored to announce that Her Majesty Queen Sofia will attend the Gold Medal Gala and receive the 50th anniversary commemorative medal on Nov. 19 here in New York. Dr. Fernando Aleu, the chairman emeritus of Puig USA, is the institute’s Gold Medal recipient for 2003.

New York’s First Lady Libby Pataki was the guest of honor recently at a lunch given by Evelyn Lauder in the sunny dining room of her beautiful New York apartment. It was all very colorful, the tables decorated with bold African daisies in bright vases and crystal in multicolors, a perfect background for a Mexican-themed luncheon. All the ladies wore pastel colors to go with the decor and had their pictures taken with Libby in front of Evelyn’s mantle, which was loaded with the most gorgeous lilacs.

The reason for all this was to plan the 10th anniversary of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which begins in October. Their logo is “The Power of Ten,” which will be used all year long. The first event is planned for Oct. 8, a seminar and lunch in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom with scientists from all over the country exchanging the latest news with the audience. Everyone will be out by 2 p.m. carrying a great bag loaded with lovely things from Burberry. The most influential ladies in New York, those you read about all the time and love, will be there.

Coco Kopelman has just been elected president of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center after 13 years of unswerving support. She was toasted at Graff, the jewelers, at a kickoff cocktail party for the society’s preview of the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show set for Oct. 16 at the Park Avenue Armory. This year’s chairmen, Jamee Gregory and Leslie Jones, invited all the committee members to sip Veuve Clicquot and meet Henri Barguirdjian, the president of Graff USA, who announced that his company and Saks Fifth Avenue will sponsor the 15th anniversary preview party and together pledge $100,000 to help the society with its good works.

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