Byline: Aileen Mehle

Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain have come and gone after a whirlwind New York visit, leaving nothing but infinite charm and goodwill in their wake. Of course, the good-looking king has always been a star, but there aren’t many moscas on the engaging Queen Sofia either. She could lure the pajaros right out of the arboles with her smile and grace. Sofia is, after all, the daughter of a king, the sister of a king and the wife of a king and, with queens like that, a very good reason to keep kings around.
Their last day in New York, Juan Carlos and Sofia were guests of honor at the big private luncheon given by the Spanish Institute, where the king turned up looking spiffy in a blue shirt and a yellow tie — or was it a yellow shirt and a blue tie? — and the queen appeared in a smart plaid skirt. At least 90 guests sat down to asparagus, sea bass and chocolate souffle cake with raspberries (Glorious Food catered) with Martha Muse, a great friend of the Institute and one of its Gold Medalists, seated at Juan Carlos’s right and Argentina’s Ambassador-at-Large Amalita Lacroze de Fortabat, the effervescent billionairess, on his left. At various other tables were such as Dr. Fernando Aleu and Inmaculada de Habsburgo, the chairman and president of the Spanish Institute, respectively; Spain’s Ambassador to the United States Antonio Oyarzabal and Mrs. Oyarzabal (the former Beatriz Lodge of the Boston Lodges); Agnes Gund, the pride of the Museum of Modern Art, her attorney husband Daniel Shapiro and her historian brother Geoffrey Gund; our Ambassador to Spain Richard Gardner and his wife Danielle; Ambassador Diego Arria of Venezuela; Astrid and Christopher Forbes; Emilia and Pepe Fanjul (who with the D. Dixon Boardmans had dined with Juan Carlos and Sofia the night before at Harry Cipriani’s and didn’t leave the restaurant until 1 A.M., ay-ay-ay!); Spain’s Ambassador to the United Nations and Mrs. Carlos Westendorp; Margaretha and Eric Javits; Alexander Papamarkou; Alexandra and Arthur Schlesinger; Carroll Petrie (who was once married to the late Marques de Portago, a Spanish grandee); Carmen de Pinies, the director of the Spanish Institute, and Dr. Felix de Pinies; Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo; Renata and Felipe Propper de Callejon; Maria and Mariano Puig; Robin Chandler Duke (whose late husband, Angier Biddle Duke, was once our ambassador to Spain); Richard Fisher, the biggest man at Morgan Stanley, and Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, who boasts a Spanish title. As Mrs. Herrera was doing her little curtsy and saying adios to Juan Carlos, he kissed her hand and said, “Carolina, como sigas tan guapa?” That translates into “Carolina, how do you stay so beautiful?” You have to love a king like that.

Later that night, a big slice of America’s corporate royalty was dining in splendor on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, the company’s annual “On Stage at the Met” gala which brings out more chairmen and chief executive officers than you can shake a baton at. These are the wonderful big business people who, proving their continuing role at sustaining excellence in the arts, filled the Met’s coffers at this year’s party to the melody of over 1 1/2 million dollars.
The guest of honor of the evening was the powerful banker Walter Shipley, the head of Chase Manhattan, and the mighty dinner chairmen were Peter Bijur, who runs Texaco, and David Komansky, who tells them how to do it at Merrill Lynch. As she has been for the past 12 years, Cecile Zilkha, the chairman of special events at the Met, was again the benefit committee chairman. Cecile is the little flower who makes things happen at that opera company. A major fund-raiser, she can not only painlessly exact money from all those corporate stars, but make them glad they gave. Long may she wave. And this is but a few of the 850 guest who were there, sitting onstage amidst scenery designed by Franco Zeffirelli for his Met production of “Carmen,” under towering centerpieces of lemon trees and orange and terracotta roses and lilies, designed by Bill Tansey, whilst enjoying artichoke hearts with prawns and filet of beef (Glorious Food) and listening to the music of the Michael Carney Orchestra: Metropolitan Opera chairman James Kinnear and Mrs. Kinnear, Mr. and Mrs. John Zuccotti, Ezra Zilkha, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Zilkha, Bettina Zilkha, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Bennack (Hearst), Mr. and Mrs. Richard Grasso (New York Stock Exchange), Mr. and Mrs. Lou Dobbs (big bucks on CNN), Alec Wildenstein, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Safir (he’s the police comissioner), Governor and Mrs. James Blanchard, Mr. and Mrs. Michel Fribourg, French Consul General in New York Patrick Gautrat, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Forbes, Met Opera President Bruce Crawford and Mrs. Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Dionne (McGraw-Hill), the French Ambassador to the U.S. Francois Bujon de l’Estang, the Met’s general manager Joseph Volpe, Barbaralee Diamonstein and Carl Spielvogel, Beverly Sills, Kay Jeffords, Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Peyrelongue (Cosmair), Paul Wilmot, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bungey (Bates Worldwide), Mr. and Mrs. Alfred C. DeCrane Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Alton Peters, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lee (GTE), Mr. and Mrs. John Ong (BFGoodrich), Emily Fisher Landau, Mr. and Mrs. Allen Krowe (Texaco), Mr. and Mrs. James D. Robinson III, Richard Ravitch, Mr. and Mrs. John Pomerantz (Leslie Fay), Mr. and Mrs. Deryck Maughan (Salomon Brothers), Mrs. Shipley, Mrs. Bijur, Mrs. Komansky and others too bigshot to mention. Oh, and Carol Burnett, looking chic and sleek.

Betty Scripps of those Scrippses will be giving her next big party at beautiful Anderson House in Washington on Law Day, May 1, for the Lawyers of the Republic. (Yes, Betty likes lawyers). She’s the chairman of this august occasion, with such co-chairmen as Lloyd Cutler Esq. and C. Boyden Gray Esq. Impressed? Hungarian Ambassador Dr. Gyorgy Banlaki has put together a diplomatic committee consisting of 32 ambassadors, and Betty Scripps will present the Scripps Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award to Retired Justice Lewis F. Powell. Philip Baloun will fly from New York to make Anderson House even more beautiful, and Betty, who loves to dance, will have a teeny-weeny dance floor and a teeny-weeny dance band led by Michael Carney. It’s plain to see Mrs. Scripps is floating in high cotton these days. And it’s plain to see I’m nothing but a name-dropper.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus