Byline: Aileen Mehle
A press lord in the flesh — and a famously imposing one at that — is Conrad Black, whose media empire, particularly in Britain and Canada, is growing and flourishing, so the reports go. There is nothing that makes a press lord happier, of course, than a growing and flourishing media empire. And when you add to the mixture a beautiful and brilliant wife, it can be safely said that Conrad may have the world on a string — or close.
In a burst of celebratory fervor, chairman Conrad and the officers and directors of his Hollinger International corporation gather together once a year to host a grand party, inviting dazzlers of the media and close friends, everyone of them a biggie in his/her particular field. After dinner, there is always a guest speaker — most recently Lady Thatcher, Tom Wolfe, the new U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence H. Summers and others of that awesome ilk. They are all eminently laudable, famous personages who all have something to say, but try though Conrad may to rein them in and limit their time at the podium, most of these worthies go on too long. There is something addictive about getting the bit in their teeth in front of an audience that drives them — and many other speakers who appear at nightly social functions in New York — to drone on and on while some in the crowd just give up and nod off. I have seen even the great financier Paul Volcker clap his hands over his ears and practically lay his head on the table in the middle of a seemingly endless oration. Everyone around him felt like doing the same, but who among us has Paul Volcker’s guts? Still, there is no way that anyone invited to this glamorous, star-studded, prestigious gathering would dream of not being there. What — and miss all those swells?
That said, the Hollinger party at the Metropolitan Club on Monday night brought out 280 personages, black-tied and dressed to kill, or at least, maim. The most alluring woman gliding about the Metropolitan Club’s vast rooms was the hostess, Mrs. Conrad Black, who is also Barbara Amiel, the British political columnist. Dressed in a long burgundy Oscar de la Renta and wearing a remarkable necklace, she turned heads, even the most self-involved ones. Another beauty on view — and there were viewers, believe me — was Mrs. Rolf Sachs, the Iranian-born wife of the son of the once-notorious playboy and automotive heir, Gunther Sachs, also known in his heyday as Mr. Brigitte Bardot. With her hair loosely pulled back and filling out a black strapless dress, Mrs. Sachs was “it.”
Where to start with the guests? Let’s begin with Lady Thatcher and go on to the Secretary General of the United Nations and Mrs. Kofi Annan; financier Frank Richardson with his lovely wife, Judge Kimba Wood; David Rockefeller; all the Buckleys — Bill, Pat and Christopher; the Canadian ambassador and Mrs. Raymond Chretien; Venezuelan billionaire Gustavo Cisneros and his philanthropist wife, Patty; writer Renata Adler and her famous braid; former top investment banker Jon Corzine, who is thinking of entering the political arena (are you sure, Mr. Corzine?); British publisher Lord Weidenfeld and his wife, Annabel; Cecile and Ezra Zilkha; Amanda Burden and Charlie Rose; Barbara Walters; Nancy and Henry Kissinger; Louise and Henry Grunwald; Mercedes (in fashionable feathers) and Sid Bass; Lady Dudley with Robert Silver; the Laurence Tisches and the Robert Preston Tisches; Michael Bloomberg and Mary Jane Salk; Georgette Mosbacher and Robert Mosbacher, but definitely not together; Marjorie and Max Fisher and their daughter Dr. Marjorie Fisher; Kay Graham and her daughter, Lally Weymouth; Linda Wachner, the tycooness in fall-into-a-faint JAR earrings made especially for her; Annette and Oscar de la Renta; Mica and Ahmet Ertegun; Lord and Lady Carrington; Gigi and Roone Arledge; Paul Volcker; Alexandra and Arthur Schlesinger; Lauren and John Veronis, and George Will.
Then there were the Arthur Ochs (Punch) Sulzbergers of the New York Times dynasty; Helen and Bill Safire; the Colombian billionaire Julio Mario Santo Domingo and his lissome wife, Beatrice; Lloyd Cutler, the Washington lawyer, with Hannah Pakula; Alexandra and Arnaud de Borchgrave; the Lou Dobbses; Midge Decter and Norman Podhoretz; Virginia and Freddie Melhado; Joan Ganz Cooney and Pete Peterson; Richard Scaife (who walked out of the party, nobody knows why); Liz Mezzacappa; Happy Rockefeller; Shirley Lord and Abe Rosenthal; David Metcalfe; Emilia and Pepe Fanjul; the Robert Morgenthaus; the newlyweds Wendy Deng and Rupert Murdoch; Carroll Petrie; former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the beauteous Mila Mulroney; Judy and Ed Ney; the Richard Perles; Steven Rattner and his wife, Maureen White; Linda and Jim Robinson; Frank Bennack; Susan and David Brinkley; the exotic and beautifully dressed Princess Firyal of Jordan; General Alexander Haig and his pretty wife, Pat; the Walter Isaacsons of Time; Peter Jennings and his wife, Kayce Freed; Julia and David Koch; Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder; Wendy and Bill Luers; Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations and Mrs. Robert Fowler; Kathy and Alan Greenberg of Bear Sterns; the former president of France Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, the British financier, and the American lady he loves and is expected to marry, tall, blond and sublime Lynn Forester.
Sir Evelyn is in the process of selling his apartment in London’s Belgravia, said to be one of the most magnificent anywhere, to Mary and Harding Lawrence, whose other magnificent residences include La Fiorentina in the south of France and The Terraces in Mustique. Home is where the heart is.
“Now that you’re here tonight,” said Louise Grunwald to me, eyeing the crowd, “you’ve seen them all. You can stay home and you won’t have to go to another party all season.” I don’t think so.