Byline: Aileen Mehle
Sandy Hill and Tom Dittmer are inviting the friends they are friendliest with to a big dinner and dance on April 14 at Rancho La Zaca in Los Olivos, Calif. The fiesta is to celebrate their marriage, which everyone saw coming, especially as they have been always-together for the last several years. Rancho La Zaca probably belongs to Tom. If not, it’s one of the few things that doesn’t. He made his many hundreds of millions in Wall Street where he was described as a dealer second only to Michael Millken in the junk bond biz. And he knows how to spread that lolly around.
You all remember stunning Sandy Hill. For years, she was famous for scaling the world’s highest peaks, the snowier the better, the more dangerous, the more to be conquered. Intrepid, even vainglorious, she was for years perhaps the top woman mountain climber in the world, and her daring, courage and will were the equal of many, if not most, of her male counterparts. The last climb she attempted ended in tragedy on Mount Everest, her near-death and the death of others in the party who had risked their lives going into thin air. End of that era in her life.
You all remember Tom Dittmer, or should. Even though he is richy-rich, his friends say he has the most wonderful sense of humor and fun, not at all like those Wall Street puff adders who take themselves too seriously — or did until the market depuffed them.
When he took over the entire luxury yacht Sea Goddess two summers ago, cruising from Greece to Turkey to Venice, he didn’t stint. His 80 guests wallowed in total luxe. Every day and every night there was a party with a different theme, the Sea Goddess decorated aft to stern by the noted designer David Easton. On Bacchanale Night, there were purple balloons shaped like bunches of grapes and every guest wore a toga supplied by the he-thinks-of-everything host. After the wining and dining, everyone hopped on a bus to Ephesus, where Mike Carney and his orchestra, having flown in from New York, were waiting to serenade them.
When the boatload arrived in Venice, there were 100 additional guests waiting at the dock, there was Diana Ross ready to sing for them, and for three days there were festive lunches and dinners laid on in various palazzi. It was la dolce vita Dittmer-style. You can see why there are so many people who are so glad they know him.
It should be mentioned that Sandy Hill was once married to megamillionaire Bob Pittman, the big AOL Time Warner genius. It all ended because she was always off on a mountain-top and he was always watching a bank of computers. Don’t tell me this is over-simplification. I know that!
Princess Michael of Kent, Britain’s gift to the lecture circuit, where she struts her stuff like no other, spellbinding her faithful coterie of listeners, is due in New York. She will receive and speak at a luncheon April 25 in the Library and L’Orangerie of Le Cirque. Did you know that shortly after the guests are seated, only “finger canapes” will be served so that there will be no clinking of silver whatsoever whilst the Princess has her say for 15 minutes? Now you do. There will be no slides, no podium, just her modulated, mellifluous voice filling the room. Attention must be paid.
Her Royal Highness’s lecture subject is “Catherine of Medici, Machiavellian Queen and Regent,” whom she refers to as “history’s female Dracula.” (That, of course, has more class than “The Unhappy Hooker.”) The luncheon benefits the Versailles/Giverny Foundation, of which Barbara de Portago (who grew up at Versailles when her stepfather, Gerald Van der Kemp, was the curator there) is now the vice president and over which Mother Dear, Florence Van der Kemp, presides. Mother Dear will be seated at the luncheon next to former Ambassador John Loeb — because that’s the way Mother Dear wants it. Each table will be decorated with marvelous cinnabar and black Renaissance urns to carry out the Medici theme, do you see? Jan Cowles is expected as are Valerie Zilkha; heiress Doda Goulandris-Voridis, in from Greece; Chantal Miller, mother of the Three Graces; Pat Kerr Tigrett; Muffie Potter Aston; Evelyn Lauder, and, oh, Michael Bloomberg, who is in the midst of leaving no political stone unturned. Even chic and stunning lunches can be a fertile field.
This year’s Save Venice Inc. Regatta Week Gala set for August will be called “Music in Venice” and, to let you know, there will be a dinner at the Doge’s Palace and a fancy ball at the Palazzo Pisano Moretta, where the strains of Peter Duchin and his orchestra will float over the Grand Canal. This will mark Save Venice’s 30th anniversary, which they’ll also celebrate on April 10 when they sponsor a lecture on “James McNeil Whistler and his Circle in Venice” at the Colony Club given by Eric Denker of the National Gallery of Art. After the little talk, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos will be hosting a little dinner at Alfredo of Rome in Rockefeller Center. Mangia!