Byline: Aileen Mehle
That aristocratic German gentleman with his arm in a sling and the beautiful Spanish blonde with him at the Frick Museum the other night were, you’re dying to hear, none other than the Baron and Baroness Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza in New York from their homes in Madrid, Lugano and all points of the compass. God knows they can afford them. The baron, known as Heini, is one of the richest men in the world (steel, you know) and the erstwhile possessor of a nearly incomparable art collection. We are not talking about the Queen of England here. To the dismay of museums worldwide, who were shamelessly courting him, Heini decided several years ago to sell his pictures to the Spanish Government — for $350 million — and they now illuminate the walls of a Madrid museum where they are permanently housed.
The Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza, whose name is Carmen but is called Tita by those who love her, has not exactly caught the mantle flung by her husband three years ago — who could? — but loving art with a passion described by Charles Ryskamp, the head of the Frick, as nothing short of burning, she has managed since to amass a collection of her own, 600 art works to be exact, from which 16 pictures and four Rodin marble sculptures were culled. At least 40 percent of the art was given to her by her husband, a perfect example of the Suzy maxim: “Don’t tell me how rich they are, tell me how generous they are.”
So now the chosen 16 and the white marbles were exhibited at the Frick at a reception and dinner attended by art lovers, socialites, financiers, best-dressed women and what have you, all there to greet Tita and remark on her Constable, her Canaletto, her two Gauguins, her van Gogh, her Monet, her Guardi and examples of Spanish modernism.
Tita was a picture herself in black chiffon — you don’t get to be Miss Spain, which she was, for being an ug — and absolutely, positively, undeniably wreathed in smiles as she greeted such guests as Veronica and Randolph Hearst; Judy and Alfred Taubman; Cecile and Ezra Zilkha; Henry Clay Frick, whose grandfather built the beautiful Fifth Avenue museum; Mary and Howard Phipps; Evelyn and Leonard Lauder; the Spanish ambassadors to the U.S. and the U.N. and their wives; Tita’s son, Borja; her close friend, Princess Beatrice d’Orleans; Alexis Gregory; Nancy Holmes; Randy Jones; Richard Feigen; Bernard Combemale; Dede Brooks; Barbara Portago in fur-trimmed black; the Walter Curleys, and on and on into the night. Henry Frick told the assemblage what it meant to him to be born in the Frick, which his grandfather built as his private home — even though baby Henry was spirited off to Long Island where the family moved when he was either three or six months old. And Charles Ryskamp, who is retiring from the Frick, made a charming speech about Tita and her “passion” and told us all how he will miss the museum. Which is about half as much as New York will miss him. Oh, and if you were wondering why Heini’s arm was in a sling, he slipped on some wet grass and broke three fingers. Who else would tell you these things.?
Just love, love, love this: Cindy Crawford says she never speaks to her former husband, Richard Gere, because she might fall in love with him again — and, well, heaven forbid. “There’s no anger between Richard and me,” says Cindy, “but I don’t want to fall back in love with him, and I know that could happen.” Whether she really means it or is just batting her eyelashes, who knows? But, if so, where does that leave poor Rande Gerber, who’s in and out of Cindy’s love life whenever it’s time to take up the slack?
As for Richard, his soon-due thriller “Red Corner” has him fighting for his life in mainland China where he is accused of a murder. (Falsely, of course). And now he’s all set for a double helping of Julia Roberts, his “Pretty Woman.” They are set to star in a Disney tale called “Manhattan Ghost Story” and in “Intolerable Cruelty” in which Julia plays a woman having an affair with a lawyer representing her husband in their divorce. Does that make her a smart cookie or a dumb bunny?
With the persistent news from Europe that Prince Ernst August of Hanover and his wife, Princess Chantal, are in the throes of divorcing — this is a nonstop bone that rags and mags abroad keep worrying about — the swells along the Cote d’Azur are making book that Monaco’s Princess Caroline and the macho prince will marry as soon as the social niceties permit. Anyhow, they have been such news fodder for months — having been photographed in living, loving color by prying cameras which ferret them out indulging themselves in meadows, mansions and meeting places — that a marriage could almost be anticlimactic. (Just kidding.) As for Caroline’s harried papa, Prince Rainier, he is reported to have said of Ernst August, “At least he’s one of us.” Whether he really said it is something else again.
Herewith a little map of what you may expect to see when you go to the Versace exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum on Dec. 11: “Versace: The Landmarks,” a mini-retrospective of the designer’s major themes including prints, the safety-pin dress famously worn by Elizabeth Hurley and the white suit on the cover of Time’s April 17, 1995 issue.
In the second gallery, “Versace and Art” will portray Versace’s creations inspired by modern abstract art and Andy Warhol in particular. The third gallery will reveal his appreciation of Greek and Roman classicism, Byzantine crosses, madonnas from two of his collections, 18th-century court-style silhouettes and inspirations provided by such Twenties and Thirties fashion icon as Vionnet and Madame Gres. In the fourth gallery “Versace and Experiment” presents new materials, including plastic, leather, metal-mesh dresses and his “bondage” collection. The final gallery will feature “Versace: The Dream” his particular dream of spectacular dress. All this information is straight from the Metropolitan Museum — so don’t blame them if you lose your way.