AVENUE January | February 2022

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CONTENTS JAN.–FEB. 2022 VOL.45 NO.1

FEATURES 48

DEE LOVELY

Designer Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger and her husband, Tommy, welcome us in Palm Beach. By Constance C.R. White. 54

KISS & TELL

For the 20th-century chic set, an invitation to a party at Amado was one of the most coveted in Palm Beach. By Augustus Mayhew.

KATE MARTIN/TRUNK ARCHIVE

60

SAND CASTLE Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger at her Mustique home.

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LANDED GENTLY When the world went into lockdown, the author and his husband had just finished a decade-long renovation of Marienruh, the storied Dutchess County estate they purchased in 2006. By Andrew Solomon.

12/22/21 11:29 AM


VERNISSAGE

Avenue’s insider preview of all that’s new and noteworthy: a new boutique gallery in Palm Beach, the “Banksy of the flower world,” and an account of a run-in with Ghislaine Maxwell.

RESORT TO THIS Our bird of paradise is wearing a Giambattista Valli bouclette dress. $1,715; giambattistavalli.com.

BY HORACIO SILVA, CHRISTINA OXENBERG, AND BEN WIDDICOMBE

20

BUY CURIOUS

New looks for a new year. BY HORACIO SILVA

24

GOING FOR BROKE

CULTURE 28

The Breakers in Palm Beach offers what is arguably the finest and most exclusive Sunday brunch in the whole American empire.

42

32

CLEAR EYES, FOUR ARTS, CAN’T LOSE

44

MASTER CLASS

46

76

BY AMBROSE MCGAFFNEY

80

FUNNY FACE

66

Comic genius Buster Keaton, the subject of a major new biography, was the original Hollywood action hero. BY TOM SHONE

SUN, SEA, AND STYLE

ON THE AVE.

Nothing stops New Yorkers from getting out on the town and looking good while doing it. 88

LIVING

NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

Brothers Addison and Wilson Mizner blazed a devil’s triangle between California, New York, and Palm Beach.

BY ARIA DARCELLA AND ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

WORTH A LOOK BY ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

SOCIAL SKILLS

Thank-you Nots—satirical greeting cards for when you just can’t fake gratitude. BY POSEY WILT

For interiors tastemakers, the Design Center of the Americas may be the most influential destination in South Florida. BY ARIA DARCELLA

FALL GUY Buster Keaton was the father of physical comedy.

8

TO THE LETTER

Visually arresting new books on Yves Saint Laurent and home design.

Three must-see gallery shows in Palm Beach this season.

COVER: Illustration by Joey Yu

HEATHER POLK

BY HEATHER HODSON, MARK LIBATIQUE, ARANYA JAIN, AND ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

BY ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

36

WINTER TALES

WISH YOU WERE HERE

Postcards from the fashion edge. BY HORACIO SILVA AND

Four books perfect for fireside reading.

Recent and rare discoveries headline an Upper East Side fair dedicated to Old Master works on paper.

34

70

Jillian Cantor’s highly anticipated new novel reimagines The Great Gatsby through the eyes of its female characters. BY CELIA MCGEE

The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach is growing in stature under the stewardship of Dr. Philip Rylands. BY ARIA DARCELLA

BY JOSHUA DAVID STEIN

JAY? ZZZZZ

Visit our website at avenuemagazine.com

ILLUSTRATION BY HEATHER POLK; BUSTER KEATON/COHEN MEDIA

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AVENUE MAGAZINE | JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022

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E

Paradise Found

very publication has its own set of editorial rules that come about from a combination of its readers’ sensibilities, the topics it covers, and its editor’s personal bugbears. (Fifteen years ago, when I was a junior columnist at the Daily News, then editor-in-chief Ed Kosner issued a fiat banning the term “Big Apple”—never mind that the paper was advertising itself on a giant billboard of a big apple in Times Square at the time.) This year, for our annual Palm Beach issue, Avenue added a rule that is just as quirky. Going forward, our journalists are banned from quoting anyone saying how pleasant it is to live in Palm Beach. Not because we don’t heartily believe it: we just had to eliminate the observation since it was coming up in every single interview—and how many times can you read what is already blatantly obvious anyway? Subjects who sneaked in before the prohibition went into effect include Dee Ocleppo-Hilfiger and her husband and fellow designer, Tommy Hilfiger (interviewed by the legendary style writer Constance C.R. White), as well as the president of the Society of the Four Arts, Dr. Philip Rylands. Nick Hissom and Kameron Ramirez, two young blades enlivening the Palm Beach arts scene with Aktion Art, their new gallery, likewise noted the island’s idyllic nature, but had the comment excised by a vengeful editor. You also won’t need to be reminded of the town’s better qualities in Augustus Mayhew’s wonderful story on the guest book of Amado, a twentieth-century social hub designed by Addison Mizner (who appears in our Notorious column alongside his wag of a brother, Wilson.) Other highlights include Tom Shone on Buster Keaton; Celia McGee’s interview with author Jillian Cantor; and Andrew Solomon’s glorious essay on his pandemic country retreat—among much else. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to be holding this issue while enjoying brunch at The Breakers—also an experience we don’t have to tell you is superlative, but in this issue, we do anyway. I think you’ll enjoy it. Warmly, BEN WIDDICOMBE

Editor-in-Chief 10

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AVENUE MAGAZINE | JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ben Widdicombe CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Rory Simms

AUGUSTUS MAYHEW (Kiss & Tell, page 54) is the author of Palm Beach: A Greater Grandeur and Lost in Wonderland: Reflections on Palm Beach. In this issue he writes about Amado, the oceanfront mansion designed by Addison Mizner for the Drexel Morgan heiress Mary Astor Paul Munn and her husband, Charles Alexander Munn. “During Charlie Munn’s tenure as ‘Mr. Palm Beach’ his house parties at Amado became the 400’s ultimate destination,” he says. Mayhew, who also photographed Amado’s guestbook, is a recipient of the AIA–Palm Beach Historic Preservation Award and a former chair of the Historical Society’s archives and collections (“where the bodies are buried,” he says). CELIA MCGEE (Jay? ZZZZZ, page 42) has covered books and authors for the New York Times, Town & Country, and the New York Observer. For this issue she interviewed Jillian Cantor about Beautiful Little Fools, the best-selling novelist’s reimagining of The Great Gatsby from the point of view of its female characters. “Cantor made me see not only Fitzgerald’s women but the times in which they lived in a whole new light,” McGee says. “I was also fascinated by the roles she had them play in the murder mystery at the heart of her book. It would have had even Fitzgerald on the edge of his seat.” RORY SIMMS became Avenue’s acting creative director this fall. Born in Ireland, he moved to New York from Dublin in December 2013, and the following year joined the design consultancy Pentagram, which redesigned Avenue. He now runs Portrait, a design studio with clients that include the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Queens Theatre, and also teaches at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Of his work on this issue, he says, “If I had been told six months ago that I would design a layout using only text and lipstick impressions from the 1940s I would not have believed it, but I’m glad it worked out that way.” MARK LIBATIQUE (Winter Tales, page 44) is a writer, calligrapher, language instructor, and community leader who also works in immigration advocacy. Somehow, he also finds time to regularly review books for Avenue. For this issue he writes about Ann Patchett’s latest collection of essays, These Precious Days. “The chance to write about other people’s writing is the best kind of pyramid scheme,” he says. “When the book is good, it’s genuinely fun to try to get it in as many hands as possible.” 12

DEPUTY & MANAGING EDITOR

Angela M.H. Schuster FEATURES DIRECTOR

Heather Hodson PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR

Catherine G. Talese PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Jessica Lee STYLE EDITOR

Horacio Silva DIGITAL FASHION EDITOR

Aria Darcella DEPUTY PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Daniela G. Maldonado LONDON EDITOR

Catherine St Germans CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Constance C.R. White, Joshua David Stein, Tom Shone, Judd Tully, Celia McGee, Alexis Schwartz CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Anders Overgaard, Richard Kern, Landon Nordeman, Rainer Hosch, Johnny Miller, Martin Vallin, Nick Mele © 2022 by Cohen Media Publications LLC AVENUE MAGAZINE 750 LEXINGTON AVENUE 16TH FLOOR NEW YORK, NY 10022 EDITORIAL@AVENUEMAGAZINE.COM

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HEATHER POLK COURTESY OF HEATHER POLK; AUGUSTUS MAYHEW BY JIM GREENE; CELIA MCGEE BY ASHLEY HIMMEL; RORY SIMMS BY NOAH BOULTON; MARK LIBATIQUE BY MARK LIBATIQUE

HEATHER POLK (Wish You Were Here, page 70) is a Chicago-based collage artist and health-care professional who spends her nights and weekends working in her art practice, Art C.U.R.E.S (Creativity Unleashed Rewards Every Soul). “I started Art C.U.R.E.S as a way of encouraging others to explore creative expression as a form of self-care and stress management. Whether you are observing art, making art, or working on some creative project, the stimulation to our senses and emotions from art and creativity usually lifts our spirits, tugs at our curiosity, and brings us joy.”

AVENUE MAGAZINE | JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022

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Aktion Figures

T

he Palm Beach art scene—long dominated by local establishment players, and recently bolstered by the arrival of New York mainstays such as Sotheby’s, Pace, and Acquavella—isn’t exactly known for its youthful vigor. “The joke was always that everyone here was 80,” says Nick Hissom, the 29-yearold co-founder and -owner of Aktion Art, a new boutique gallery and advisory, “but it's changing quickly. There’s a huge influx of young people, and the place is becoming more of a permanent, international scene.” Hissom and Kameron Ramirez, his 22-yearold boyfriend and business partner, are helping apply the defib paddles. Located on the second floor of the Esplanade, among the area’s abundant luxury stores, Aktion Art caters to the crowd who think nothing of spending big money on, say, a Damien Hirst after an afternoon shopping at Graff. “A lot of serious collectors started coming here during Covid, as everywhere else was basically closed,” says Hissom, in an indeterminate drawl that is the product of having been born in London and educated at Le Rosey in Gstaad before the University of Pennsylvania. Adds Ramirez, who was born in Nicaragua and raised in Los Angeles and Palm Springs: “We have been coming here on and off for five years and knew some people in the art community, so we were in the right place at the right time.” The peripatetic couple, who also have homes in New York and Los Angeles, met at the Meatpacking District’s Soho House in 2019 when Hissom was a model-singer-songwriter and Ramirez, at a precocious age, owned a film production company. Today, they are sitting in the living room of their glass waterfront house on N Lake Way, dressed casually (if expensively) for the eternal Florida summer, their luxury statement watches intertwined with college-dude fabric bracelets.

Illustrations by Sandra K. Peña

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“Typical us,” notes Ramirez, surveying the sparely appointed room, “there’s not much furniture but lots of art.” Just as their gallery showcases emerging talents alongside museum-worthy heavy hitters on the secondary market (Hirst is showing currently, followed in February by a show of Cubist-inspired work by the British artist-not-the-writer Nick Hornby), the walls are a mix of blue-chip names alongside up-and-comers on their roster such as Kevin HEES and Connor Addison.

“WE’RE BUILDING SOMETHING FROM THE GROUND UP.” NICK HISSOM

And Aktion’s program has been getting rave reviews from all the right arbiters. “It’s exciting to have two young art lovers in Palm Beach,” says the seasoned collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, who met the two at the Wynn gallery last season. “They are a great addition to the growing art scene.” As befits their aspirations, Hissom and Ramirez have been making a name as philanthropists alongside their envy-inducing lifestyle. In addition to personally supporting Children International, UNICEF, and amfAR, as well as a variety of LGBTQ causes, Aktion Art has donated work that raised more than $100,000 for the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, and other institutions. They’re also in their element table-hopping

at Bilboquet, BiCe Cucina, and Buccan; being on the water on their 38-foot Riva Rivamare, and entertaining at home for their friends, a junior jet set that includes Peter Brant Jr.; Emma Holzer; Leah Glimcher of Pace Gallery; Jeffrey Tousey of Beekman Social; Billy Gilbane; fellow gallery owners Devon and Tucker McCready; David Rothschild of Sotheby’s; and Makenzie Moon Phelan. It’s a peachy set up for a couple of twentysomethings—made possible, at least in part, by the fact that Hissom’s stepfather is billionaire real estate developer, casino magnate, and art collector Steve Wynn. (His mother and father are the British society figure Andrea and her banker ex-husband, Robert David Hissom.) If Nick is defensive about the entrée that Wynn affords him (he also serves as the director of the Wynn Fine Art in Palm Beach, directing the gallery and the family collection), he isn’t showing it. He says that he grew up as part of two families who all play nicely, before pointing to an antique credenza on top of which is a 1983 copy of Interview magazine with a young Brooke Shields on the cover. “Check it out,” he says excitedly, flipping through the pages until he finds an interview with his stepfather, conducted by founder Andy Warhol himself. A polaroid that Warhol took of Steve was used as an advertisement for the “Generations: Warhol x Basquiat” exhibition at Aktion Art last year. Later, when asked if his arresting Rolex (a rare James Bond edition of the Pro Hunter Daytona in black) was a gift from Steve, he offers good-naturedly: “Nah, it’s from my dad. He is a huge James Bond fan and it’s one of seven.” And if some people are going to dismiss his new concern as the latest distraction of a dilettante (Hissom’s previous efforts as a platinum-blond model and would-be pop star went largely unnoticed), then so be it. “It’s not like we’ve been waving a checkbook around town,” says the young gallerist. “We’re building something from the ground up, but I get it. At the end of the day, people are free to think what they want.”—Horacio Silva JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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VERNISSAGE

Smile! You’re on Pandered Camera

L

ast year, the writer Christina Oxenberg found herself with a unique perspective on scandal. A second cousin of Prince Andrew (through her mother, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia), and a former acquaintance of both Jeffrey Epstein and his accused procurer, whose trial started in November, she recently released the e-book Trash: Encounters with Ghislaine Maxwell. In this exclusive excerpt, Oxenberg recalls the horror of being caught in a party photograph with the woman who is now a social pariah. In 2012, while happily living in Key West and needing some income, I reached out to Ghislaine, asking her if the ghostwriting job [for a novel she had previously proposed] was still available. I was probably broke, and I was certainly not thinking about her legal problems. I have an email, otherwise I would not believe it myself.

heard from Ghislaine herself. In retrospect, her email looks suspiciously like she was angling for an invitation. Though not invited, she showed up anyway, famously so. So there I was, seated in the lower level of a tony brownstone on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, presiding over a book presentation, when Ghislaine Maxwell, a large presence, surged in and yelled, “Ox!” I did not officially invite anyone, as my friend had offered to host the party and insisted she would use her list of well-heeled contacts. I did, however, spread the word casually, mentioning it to people in passing and posting about it on Facebook publicly, as that is where my readers are. And on the night I did in fact meet face-toface with certain readers I had only known online, which was wonderful fun. I also saw many old friends from my time living and working in New York City since the 1980s. I was seated at a table near the front door and surrounded by piles of my books. From such a vantage point I could greet whoever arrived, as well as sell and sign my books in relative comfort. A photographer stood near me to capture the lights of the night. Ghislaine Maxwell must have thought herself one of them, because she showed up and dominated the oxygen supply, as is her way. I had not seen Ghislaine since 1997. In the photos you can see us embracing, which is on account of her leaning over the desk as I half stand up and land in her arms like a bear cub. A simple kiss on the cheek would have sufficed, but that was not enough for Ghislaine the press hog. She demanded I come out from behind the

desk and pose for a shot. The photographer did as she was instructed, and thus these few photos of us together unfortunately exist. If you look closely at the photograph where I am standing beside her, you will see her claws digging into my upper right shoulder. She was pulling me close to her. Everything was intentional, orchestrated. All she needed was the appearance of closeness with me in this particular photo. A strategy in aid of her reintegration into society; she hoped if people saw others reconnecting with her, then maybe they’d think she wasn’t so bad. But if you look at my face you will see I am not looking at her or smiling at her. And if you look even closer, you can see I have a quizzical look on my face, as if I’m trying to signal, “Can you believe this witch?” I do not know of anyone in 2013 who remonstrated openly and refused to have their photograph taken with Ghislaine. Of course, we all should have, and the social norms of New York polite society have a lot to answer for. But, things as they were, we would never have declined. What we did do instead was deny her the photograph that she wanted. We were standing beside her, but not looking at her, nor were we showing her any respect; we were both clearly mocking the situation. And that was our way of broadcasting our feelings without saying a word, of signaling a threat without giving the game away. There is no question that by the time I was standing up next to her at her insistence, all that she now represents was forming in my mind, and it showed on my face. Trash: Encounters with Ghislaine Maxwell is available exclusively on Amazon Kindle ($5.99)

GHISLAINE MAXWELL SHOWED UP AND DOMINATED THE OXYGEN SUPPLY, AS IS HER WAY. But she told me no thank you, times had changed, and it was no longer appropriate, or something like that. She said we would get back to it when we were both old and gray. Which conveniently is the case now as I write this unauthorized biography. I hope she likes this. A few months later, I was up in New York City organizing a book party for a collection of short stories I had written, and someone must have brought me up to speed regarding whether or not to invite her, as I did not consider it. But then I 16

AVENUE MAGAZINE | JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022

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VERNISSAGE

Putting the Petal to the Metal

A

t a recent party inside the new Tory Burch store on Mercer Street, masked waiters circulated with chilled bottles of Napa fumé blanc and the night’s signature tequila cocktail, a Paloma, sprinkled with edible flower petals. The small crowd was chic in that very specific Uptown-Downtown New York way, like different pins on a Jenna Lyons mood board. And what had the evening’s guest of honor, Lewis Miller, brought as his contribution? “A dumpster,” he said, between bussing the cheeks of friends and well-wishers. “Not just a trash can, a dumpster.” Excuse me? “We like a little juxtaposition,” he replied with a grin. “It’s all about the high-low.” Miller was there to sign copies of his new book, Flower Flash (The Monacelli Press, $55), which documents his nocturnal life as a street artist. By day, Lewis Miller Design is a top floral events boutique, working with a who’s-who of clients including Chanel, the CFDA, Hollywood film studios, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many others. But since 2016, he has by night created more than 90 guerrilla flower installations in quotidian settings like bus shelters, trash receptacles, and traffic works, bringing intense and unexpected beauty to the New York streetscape. “I’ve done some in other cities, but they seem to translate the best here,” he told Avenue. “Nature is one of the greatest luxuries in the city. It’s a concrete jungle—we have the graffiti, we have the construction, we have the filth, so you need that contrast. It shines the brightest here.” Miller’s book launch ended up happening on a day of storms, obliging his installation to be reconfigured inside, sans dumpster. The store therefor became a riot of dahlias, maple branches, peonies, salvia, and marigolds. “It’s very dahlia-heavy,” he said. “They’re the showstoppers of the fall, and frost is right around the corner.” Guests included La Ligne cofounder Meredith Melling; designer John Derian, rocking green Birkenstocks; Bonnie Morrison, the luxury consultant and nicest person ever to have worked in New York fashion PR; Patricia Herrera Lansing, in a very fabulous trench coat; Sasha Bronfman 18

“I DON’T LOOK AT BEAUTY EVER AS WASTE.” LEWIS MILLER

and her husband, Alex Hedaya; plus a smattering of junior Condé-nauts, bright young things, and aspiring model-hyphenates. They moved fluidly among trays of buttery smoked salmon folded onto crisp squares of rye, and caviar dolloped onto baby potatoes. At 6:30 on the dot, miniature black-and-white cookies appeared. (A pro touch, that. The introduction of a sweet signals to open-bar-enjoying guests that the GTFO hour— which, in the case of the classic New York store party, is 7 p.m.—will soon be upon them.) But just then, a celebrity! Hot on the heels of the cookies, Christy Turlington walked in, wearing a houndstooth boyfriend blazer and jeans. Suddenly the party buzzed with renewed energy, and waiters were refilling fumé blanc glasses in double time. Miller chatted happily with guests, signing books with a bright blue felt pen. As the rain picked up again outside, he explained that for his installations he prefers using flowers recycled from the city’s events circuit, or fading blooms unlikely to be sold at the market. “I don’t look at beauty ever as waste,” he said. —Ben Widdicombe

AVENUE MAGAZINE | JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022

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BUY CURIOUS

David Webb “Orbit” cabochon azurmalachite and emeralds, brilliant-cut diamonds, polished 18 karat gold, and platinum earrings. $35,000; davidwebb.com

Clutch Time

Six new pieces for performing under pressure

BY HORACIO SILVA

Prada studded chiffon top. $3,600; prada.com Bottega Veneta leather shoulder bag in lollipop. $5,750; bottegaveneta.com

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Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello “Manhattan” metallic leather sandals. $895; ysl.com

Akris trapezoid grid embroidered belted gown. $5,990; bergdorfgoodman.com

Pomellato Pomellato “Nudo Classic” 18 karat rose gold and white gold, topaz and turquoise ring. $5,700; pomellato.com

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BUY CURIOUS

Dior and Sacai nylon and calfskin saddle bag. $4,500; dior.com

Brunello Cucinelli and Oliver Peoples “Nino Horn” sunglasses. $1,500; brunellocucinelli.com

Brunello Cucinelli waterresistant sport jacket. $3,495; 136 Greene Street, 212-334-1010 Loro Piana cashmere baseball cap. $465; loropiana.com

Berluti “Alessandro Démesure” leather oxfords (available in 10 colors). $2,280; berluti.com

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Spot Market

Commodities for cool cats

Vacheron Constantin “Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin” in 18 karat rose gold. $84,000; vacheron-constantin.com

Tom Ford leopard print “Atticus” cocktail jacket. $6,550; tomford.com

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FROND REGARDS The Breakers has been an icon since being rebuilt in 1926.

Going for Broke The Breakers in Palm Beach offers what is arguably the finest and most exclusive Sunday brunch in the whole American empire, writes Joshua David Stein. (And at $155 plus tax and tip, it should be)

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alm Beach’s most elegant shrimp eaters know that The Circle opens on Sunday at 11 a.m. sharp. The legendary brunch served in this vast and impressive dining room is a principal weekend attraction of The Breakers, Henry Flagler’s opulent, neo-Renaissance hotel sitting on 140 acres of the most enviable real estate in America. Early arrivals are asked to wait in the extravagant loggia, modeled after the Palazzo Davanzati in Florence. It was upon sofas here, on a recent Sunday at the start of the season, that women in outrageously colored Lilly Pulitzer dresses and men draped in pastel and khaki gathered to share a weekly meal that, for almost a hundred years, has been a Palm Beach institution. And this particular institution has multiple virtues it can credit for its longevity. It isn’t just

RESORT AND BRUNCH PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THE BREAKERS PALM BEACH

VERNISSAGE

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IN TRAYF HANDS Lobster claws, crab legs, and shrimp are highlights of the Sunday brunch buffet.

For the first of my three courses, I piled my plate high with lobster claw meat, a pair of tails, a few jumbo shrimp, and four or so stone crab claws.

the buffet, though that is a stunning Lucullan spread. Nor is it simply the dining room, though the room itself is grand. It’s not only the view (splendid), the service (stellar), or the harpist (Marcos). No, brunch at The Breakers is also perhaps the best place in Palm Beach—being at once exclusive and democratic—for people watching. Like the Atlantic Ocean visible through banks of 15-foot windows, The Circle’s brunchers come in waves. The early crowd arrives between 11 and 11:30, followed by the post-worship crew, who might tumble in around 1 p.m. after attending Bethesda-by-the-Sea or St. Edward’s. The former pulls largely from the swell of hotel guests: around 60 percent according to Dan Rundle, The Circle’s general manager. They are obviously well-to-do, as The Breakers’ rack rate can start at $755 per night, and the price of brunch is $155, plus tax and tip. Nonetheless, there still seems a

touch of country mouse about these celebrants as they enter, eyes wide and heads tilted toward the ceiling 30 feet above them. On it, various Italian idylls depicting cavorting nymphs, wise emperors, and equanimous heroes were painted by a Palermo-born artist, John B. Smeraldi, in the 1920s, shortly after the first iteration of The Breakers burned down and, like Lazarus, was restored to life (and then sainthood.) From their perch, these figures gaze upon the 47 tables, three ficus trees, and waiters scurrying about with champagne in one hand and juice in the other as, setting down their Chanel clutches, the diners shuttle back and forth to the buffet, the heart of The Breakers brunch. This buffet is a centerpiece, a statement, the nuclear rod, a Bacchanalian marshaling of what the earth, sea, and sky can offer man to eat. It spans more than 150 feet and two islands, plus

an omelet, waffle, and crepe station. At the tip of the island closest to the omelets is the seldom-trafficked pasta salad and deli meats section. Slices of glistening salami are artfully rolled into cones on tiny plates; tranches of quivering mozzarella are drizzled with olive oil. Circumnavigating the buffet island, one encounters the first of many extravagances: trays of neatly aligned sushi rolls. These, a relatively recent addition, are made by the chefs at Echo, The Breakers’ Japanese restaurant. They are cheek by jowl with an array of desserts, from tiny slices of tangy key lime pie topped by a glitter-dusted blackberry to decadent chocolate demitasses filled with tiramisu, and arrays of cheerful macarons. A reporter observed this island, and its satellite omelet station, to be the most trafficked by the brunch arrivistes. To their tables they trot, plates laden with Gruyère and mushroom JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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SCRUTINY OF THE BOUNTY Decades of diners, like this group in 2008, have enjoyed Sunday brunch in The Breakers’ Circle dining room, which includes its legendary dessert bar.

omelets, tobiko-encrusted maki, and an assortment of miniature desserts, like raspberry tarts with a passion fruit cream, say, or shiny chocolate domes flecked with gold leaf. But although full, these diners might not yet be sated. For the apotheosis of The Breakers brunch is found on the second island. On this other monument to man’s appetite, one finds glazed bone-in ham and tender prime rib, its center rosy and its crust spiced and charred, glistening under a heat lamp. Nearby lay pans of caramelized mushrooms with creamed spinach; a neat row of lamb, bones frenched; and a Lower East Side’s worth of smoked salmon and blini. It’s a world’s fair, the supreme food court, a Disneyland of digestion. Whether these flavors should go together (or not) is perhaps less important than the fact that one can choose whether they do. These are impressive, but the pièce de résistance is a veritable coral reef of stone crab, lobster claws, lobster tails, and shrimp. Each are piled high before a neat battalion of ramekins filled with tartar and cocktail sauces. Throughout the service, these precious proteins are replenished as if on a magical table. On any given Sunday, The Breakers runs through 250 whole Maine lobsters, 150 pounds of stone crab claws, 400 oysters, 150 pounds of prime rib, 80 pounds of shrimp, and a truly mind boggling 25 pounds of caviar. Want is a stranger here; abundance is the norm. And truth be told, abundance is delicious. For the first of my three courses, I piled my plate high with lobster claw meat, a pair of tails, a few jumbo shrimp, and four or so stone crab claws. I grabbed a ramekin of drawn butter, muttering an apology to both my rabbi and my personal trainer, and followed the flow of diners to my seat. Though the house is too refined to phrase it this way, brunch at The Breakers is all-you-can-eat, and the Bloody Marys, Bellinis, and more are bottomless. Before my khaki-clad buttocks hit the upholstered chair, my server arrived with a bottle of champagne in one hand and orange juice in the other. “Mimosa?” she asked, and who was I to refuse? Over the course of two hours and two more visits to the buffet, I studied my fellow brunchers. They were, at least age-wise, a diverse group. (As best I could tell, there were no guests of color in the dining room whereas, with the exception of 26

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PHOTO BY JEFF GREENBERG/UNIVERSAL IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

the sushi bar, all those working behind the buffet were BIPOC or Latinx. For more on this, I’d recommend Saru Jayaraman’s excellent report “The Great Service Divide: Occupational Segregation and Inequality in the US Restaurant Industry.”) The table of eight loud Russians by the door, colorful in both clothing and demeanor, presided over a table heavy with caviar, blinis, and Bloody Marys, which were quickly sucked down. Next to me, closer to the window—proximity to the window being a good marker of prestige—a young couple sat. He, tall with flowing brown hair, a Hawaiian shirt, and Tod’s drivers, watched as she, wearing the shortest shorts imaginable, posted Instagram stories about stone crab. They were observed by an older couple, she dripping in jewelry, he nose in his phone, both very tan, who moved tables twice—each time closer to the window—before piling their plates high with bacon and sausage. To my left, an older man and his younger, presumable lover ate lamb chops and, at the table beyond that, another older man and his even younger this-time-ponytailed presumable lover, fed each other sushi. (A trio of older women barely hid their alarm.) We regarded each other with curiosity, as fish might in an aquarium devoid of predators, nodding as we glided past each other to and from the buffet.

Having moved to the carving station for my second plate, I contemplate the deeper meaning of the meal over rosy and generous slices of prime rib. I watch the hungry who snake by in their Sunday best, clad in oranges, pinks, and reds reminiscent of crustaceans. Because, seeing as the claws have already been removed from

“Mimosa?” she asked, and who was I to refuse?

various respective carapaces and tail meat coaxed from its home by the twitch of a fork, as they eat their haul, Palm Beach brunchers aren’t looking down, or even at their companions, but at each of their fellow diners with the genteel complacency of belonging. According to one longtime brunch patron, The Breakers has the benefit of being a socially demilitarized zone in a town with a not

always glorious tradition of mixing faiths. Generally speaking, Palm Beach’s sizable Jewish community find themselves at ease at the Palm Beach Country Club, while its gentile population has traditionally been comfortably ensconced at the Everglades. The clubs are both exclusive and mutually exclusive. “The Breakers is like the neutral ground in West Side Story,” said the Palm Beach wag. “It’s like, ‘meet behind the gym.’ ” Equals to each other, perhaps. But in this rarefied strip of land, it is understood that also means being head and shoulders above the rest. Because the true meaning of brunch at The Breakers isn’t to be found in the intrasocial mingling of Palm Beach’s lotus eaters, or in its omelets and prime rib. Or even in the inexhaustible shrimp. For what brunch at the Breakers says to its guests is that the world itself is our buffet. Ours to enjoy (a cynic might say, plunder) on not one but three and five trips to the spread. Like all earthly pleasures, this one is fleeting. Specifically, it ends at 2:30. For now, however, Marcos is playing “It’s a Wonderful World” behind a ficus, and the ocean roils silently beyond the stormproof windows. My plate is empty temporarily once again. But the caviar is endless, the stone crab has just been replenished, and the buffet beckons me back. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Clear Eyes, Four Arts, Can't Lose

LIBRARY: NICK MELE

The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach is growing in stature under the stewardship of Dr. Philip Rylands, a former confrere of Peggy Guggenheim who joined after running her Venice collection, writes Aria Darcella

SOCIETY COLUMN Albert Herter’s original 1939 allegorical murals depicting art, literature, music, and drama were re-created during a 2018 renovation by local artist Zenon Toczek.

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f the many differences between Palm Beach and La Serenissima, one that stands out to Dr. Philip Rylands is the sterling upkeep of the Florida town. “I was struck by how clean and tidy and manicured the landscaping and the streets were compared to Venice,” he tells Avenue. “Venice is picturesque, but in other ways it’s also very dilapidated: shabby posters on the walls, chewing gum on the pavement, graffiti everywhere, broken-down walls. And that’s not so in Palm Beach at all. Everything is pristine.” The cities’ comparative aesthetics aside, moving from Italy to Florida to become the chief executive and president of the Society of the Four Arts was a natural progression in Rylands’s career. As a University of Cambridge PhD candidate in the 1970s, the British-born Rylands found himself in Venice working on a catalogue raisonné of the Renaissance painter Palma Vecchio. But an opportunity to be the administrator of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection after its eponymous founder’s death in 1979 nudged him into the world of modernism. It helped that he, his wife (author Jane Turner Rylands), and Guggenheim were all good friends. “I knew Peggy, saw a lot of Peggy as well,” he recalls, noting that she was particularly fun on the Venice social scene. “But since I was studying a 16th-century Venetian painter, she couldn’t imagine that I would go on to run her museum of 20th-century modernism.” Nonetheless he had a knack for the job, eventually becoming the Guggenheim Foundation’s director for Italy, before he finally stepped down in 2017. He would have settled into retirement had he not been offered the job at the Four Arts two years later. To Rylands, it sounded “like great fun. Right up my street.” With a similar budget and size to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, he felt he was up to the task. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CULTURE

“[The Four Arts] deserves to be better known outside of Palm Beach.”

The Society of the Four Arts was founded in 1936 by Mary (Mrs. Lorenzo E.) Woodhouse; Maud Howe Elliott, an author; and Mrs. Frederick Johnson (aka the painter Mary McKinnon) to promote fine art, literature, drama, and music. Today, the organization also includes two libraries (one of which, the King Library, houses the personal books and papers of the late architect Addison Cairns Mizner) and operates hundreds of events—including exhibits, film screenings, lectures, and concerts—during its six-month season between November and April. Town ordinances on parking and auditorium capacity limit how many visitors the Four Arts can accommodate, meaning demand for membership outstrips supply. “We don't go out looking for members,” says Rylands. “Applicants come to us, and that’s very flattering.” Nonmembers, of course, are still welcome to attend the museum’s shows and events, and 30

Rylands stresses that it is open to the entire community. “I’m particularly keen on communicating—not to colleagues, scholars, professionals, but to amateurs in the best sense of people who love art,” he says. “And I’m finding that that’s one of my contributions to the Four Arts.” Only a few months into his tenure, the museum, like everywhere else, was hit with the Covid-19 pandemic. “It was dramatic and none of us knew what was going on,” he says, explaining that the Four Arts closed for the last month of its 2019–20 season. “It was necessary at that time to terminate the season’s program prematurely, which we were sorry to do. I think we were the first Palm Beach cultural organization to take that step—we kind of led the way.” Its limited 2020–21 season contained many virtual events, but also the landmark show “Charles and Jackson Pollock,” which displayed the work of the artist brothers together for the

first time. “It was successful, a critical success,” says Rylands. “We didn’t get a lot of press, but everyone who saw it—including our very distinguished Palm Beach members—were impressed by it.” The 2022 program kicked off in November with two major shows: “A Beautiful Mess: Weavers & Knotters of the Vanguard,” a textile exhibit; and “An Eye on Michelangelo and Bernini: Photographs by Aurelio Amendola,” a photography exhibit. And February will see the opening of “In a New Light: American Impressionism 1870–1940,” a “sweeping survey of American Impressionism” which will feature work from George Innes, Thomas Moran, John Sloan, Daniel Garber, and more. “That'll be a lovely show,” muses Rylands. “[It] will certainly be a crowd-pleaser.” Writer Hugo Vickers, an expert on the British royal family, will come to discuss Prince Philip and Greta Garbo in separate lectures in the

JACKSON POLLOCK, NUMBER 23, 1949/COURTESY SOCIETY OF THE FOUR ARTS

DR. PHILIP RYLANDS

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GARDEN: NICK MELE; DR. PHILIP RYLANDS: BARBARA ZANON/GETTY IMAGES

MAKING A SPLASH The botanical garden was originally planted in 1938 by members of the Garden Club of Palm Beach; opposite: Jackson Pollock’s Number 23, displayed at the Four Arts in 2020; below: Dr. Philip Rylands at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Campus on the Lake talk series. And the season’s O’Keeffe Speakers (the Four Arts’ flagship lecture program, which runs from January to March) will feature the likes of journalist Carl Hiaasen, General James Mattis, and former NASA astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan. Rylands sees no need to overhaul the organization he stewards—sure, he thinks the sculpture garden could use an update—but he does harbor ambitions to produce original programming on a grander scale. “It’d be nice to start to curate art exhibitions for the Society—for Palm Beach— instead of simply importing them off exhibition circuits,” he says. “To be an exporter of culture; to actually do something which Palm Beach can be proud of. “[The Four Arts] deserves to be well known,” he adds. “It deserves to be better known outside of Palm Beach.” JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CULTURE

Master Class Recent and rare discoveries headline the Upper East Side fair dedicated to Old Master works on paper, reports Angela M.H. Schuster

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Martin Bailey of The Art Newspaper, Schorer was offered it for $500. Rather than take the money, he told the drawing’s owner that they “should both move cautiously.” Its authenticity has since been confirmed by conservator Jane McAusland, who found that the drawing was executed on trident watermarked paper, the same stock Dürer had used for more than 200 of his known works. It is poised to top the current record for an Old Master work on paper of $47.9 million, which financier Leon Black paid for Raphael’s Head of a Muse (1510–11) at Christie’s London in 2009. “As for the fair itself, we have a roster of more than 20 international dealers for this, our 13th edition of Master Drawings New York (MDNY),” says London-based executive director Crispian Reily-Smith. In addition to newcomer Agnews, which will be showing the highly anticipated Dürer and other works at Colnaghi, other first-time exhibitors include Gray M.C.A of Bath, England, and Menconi + Schoelkopf of New York. Among the works not to be missed is Picasso’s The Artist and His Model (Le peintre et son modèle), a pen-and-black-ink and white chalk on light brown card from 1970. It is available from London dealer Stephen Ongpin, who is presenting

ALBRECHT DÜRER COURTESY AGNEWS GALLERY

“I

remember the moment when I first laid eyes on the [Albrecht] Dürer. I knew right then that it was either the greatest forgery I had ever seen or a rare and wonderful Renaissance masterpiece,” says American collector and entrepreneur Clifford Schorer of The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grassy Bank, a recently rediscovered pen-and-ink on fine linen paper by the German artist from around 1503. Bought for just $30 at a Massachusetts estate sale five years ago, the work—thought to be a study for Dürer’s wellknown watercolor The Virgin with a Multitude of Animals (ca. 1506), in the collection of the Albertina in Vienna—is being tendered for a price rumored to be in the range of $50 million by British dealer Anthony Crichton-Stuart of Agnews during Master Drawings New York later this month. It was Schorer, leader of an investment group that rescued the 200-year-old London concern from the brink of bankruptcy in 2014, who first learned of the Dürer’s existence in 2019. He happened to be in Boston when bookseller Brainerd Phillipson told him about the drawing and agreed to put him in touch with its owner. According to

CAPITAL GAINS Picked up at an estate sale for $30, Albrecht Dürer's rare-to-market pen-and-ink The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grassy Bank (ca. 1503) is on offer for a purported $50 million.

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DESIGNS ON YOU Pablo Picasso’s The Artist and His Model (Le peintre et son modèle) from 1970, above, is being tendered in New York by London dealer Stephen Ongpin. Below: Fra Bartolommeo's early study of a young woman hits the block at Sotheby's during Master Drawings Week in New York.

BARTOLOMMEO COURTESY SOTHEBY'S; PICASSO AND NODLE COURTESY STEPHEN ONGPIN FINE ART

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Emil Nolde painted this watercolor Head of a South Sea Island Woman (Bildnis einer Südseeinsulanerin) during a trip to Papua New Guinea in early 1914. It is on offer from Stephen Ongpin.

some 60 works on paper at Adam Williams Fine Art. Meanwhile, New York gallerist Christopher Bishop will be offering Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s Two Turkeys in a Mountainous Landscape (1770–1790), a pen-and-gray-ink with wash on laid paper. Notable offerings on the auction block during MDNY include an early and well-provenanced study of the head of a young woman by the Florentine artist Fra Bartolommeo, made in the late 1490s, before he became a monk, which is expected to bring in excess of $400,000 at Sotheby’s, and The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a recently rediscovered black and white chalk on paper by the French rococo artist Jean Restout (1692–1768), which is being offered at Christie’s. Previously known to scholars only from blackand-white photos, the latter was thought to be the work of one of Restout’s more famous contemporaries, François Boucher. “We are thrilled to bring this work deemed lost back on the market,” says Giada Damen, associate specialist of Old Master drawings at the house. It carries a seemingly modest estimate of $15,000 to 25,000. Master Drawings New York runs on Manhattan’s Upper East Side January 21–29. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CULTURE

Worth A Look RONNIE LANDFIELD

The gallery is presenting an exhibition of 30 new works by the well-known Color Field artist, who came to the fore at the height of the abstract expressionist movement in New York, making his debut at age 20 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1967. “In a reaction to the all-over, process-oriented abstraction of the midcentury,” says gallery chairman and chief executive James Borynack, “Landfield painted his abstractions from nature, incorporating the horizon as he used random effects of pouring and staining. Since then, the artist has continued to hone and develop his voice with effortless sophistication, utilizing form, size, and color in a progressive yet retrospective way.” The artist’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and other important public institutions.

A FIELD OF COLOR Above: Ronnie Landfield's 2021 acrylic on canvas Clear and Free. Left: Director's Dance (Taschenskulpturen), a 2021 bronze by Erwin Wurm.

ERWIN WURM Lehmann Maupin 247 Worth Avenue January 7–February 6

For this solo exhibition, Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, whose work blurs the boundary between sculpture and performance art, will debut a selection of new “paintings”—which he describes as two-dimensional sculptures—in which words like “soft,” “bread,” and “stone,” appear to be confined inside the edges of the canvas. Complementing these works will be a selection of recent and far more familiar sculptures, which feature Wurm’s iconic handbags and luggage that have been anthropomorphized with the addition of human legs, along with a suite of photographs that merge fashion and quotidian objects such as houseplants and furniture. 34

RONNIE LANDFIELD COURTESY FINDLAY GALLERIES, PALM BEACH; ERWIN WURM, COURTESY THE ARTIST AND LEHMANN MAUPIN, NEW YORK, HONG KONG, AND LONDON

Findlay Galleries 165 Worth Avenue January 6–February 28

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SHORE THING Richard Misrach's Shorebreak #24 (2021), one of seven new works from the renowned landscape photographer's Shorebreak series, on view at Pace Palm Beach.

RICHARD MISRACH Pace The Royal Poinciana Plaza 340 Royal Poinciana Way February 3–13

© RICHARD MISRACH, COURTESY PACE GALLERY

For this exhibition, Richard Misrach, who is considered one of the most influential landscape photographers of his generation, presents a suite of seven works from his Shorebreak series that were inspired by the “mechanics of music.” Moved by subtle changes in the natural world—light and atmosphere—and drawing on jazz riffs and classical music variations, the artist has printed the images, all of the same locale, in various ways that create a visual dialogue and collectively elicit a range of experiences through their juxtaposition. “These serene photographs echo the color, light, and natural beauty found along the south Florida coastline,” says Pace director Allison Raddock, adding that, “We are very excited to feature this new body of work at our Palm Beach space this winter.”

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CULTURE

Keaton’s films are the original recipe for the action-plus-comedy formula of today’s billion-dollar franchise industry.

Ahead of a landmark biography of Buster Keaton, Tom Shone celebrates the comic genius of the original Hollywood action hero

WHY SO SERIOUS? Buster Keaton (opposite, circa 1920) did all his own stunts in a nearly fifty-year career of physical comedy. 36

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fter falling from a waterspout, onto which he had clambered from a mov ing train while filming his 1924 silent comedy Sherlock Jr. Buster Keaton complained of a headache. He treated it with whiskey until a few days later, when an X-ray revealed he had broken his neck—just one on a long list of shattered bones, fractures, and concussions sustained in the course of a nearly 50-year career, as recounted in James Curtis’s authoritative new biography of the filmmaker. “We knew from bitter experience in the old days that stuntmen don’t get you laughs,” said the comedian, who emerges from the pages of Curtis’s Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life not just as the first indie auteur but as the direct forerunner of Indiana Jones and Jason Bourne: the first action hero. Welterweight champion Mickey Walker called Keaton’s climactic fight scene in Battling Butler (1926) “the greatest battle I ever saw outside of the ring.” In College (1927), Keaton pelts his adversary with whatever he has at hand—cups, dishes, books, a bust—just like Matt Damon’s Bourne. “The best way to get a laugh is to create a genuine thrill and then relieve the tension with comedy,” said Keaton, whose films are the original recipe for the action-plus-comedy formula of today’s billion-dollar franchise industry. Spielberg pastiches Keaton all the time. When Indiana Jones is punched through his windscreen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, disappears under the wheels of his own truck, attaches his whip to its undercarriage, and hauls himself back on board to resume his fight with a Nazi, the beautiful, Rube Goldberg–ish circularity of the gag echoes the climax in Spite Marriage (1929), in which Keaton is thrown from the bow of a yacht, gets dragged under by the current, clambers aboard a small yawl being dragged from the stern by a rope, hauls himself in, and rejoins the fight. “I was just a harebrained kid that was raised backstage,” said Keaton, who as a child was part of a vaudeville act with his parents. Billed as

JOHN SPRINGER COLLECTION/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Funny Face

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GUTTER CREDITS TK TK

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Welterweight champion Mickey Walker called Keaton’s climactic fight scene in Battling Butler “the greatest battle I ever saw outside of the ring.”

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“The Little Boy Who Can’t Be Damaged,” he had a suitcase handle fitted onto the back of his costume so that his father, Joe, could hurl him across the stage like a human bowling ball, sometimes as far as 30 feet. His father was a drinker. “When I smelled whiskey across the stage I got braced,” Keaton said. By today’s standards, it borders on child abuse. They spent half their time dodging the officers of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; in order to deter their investigations Joe once took Buster to the New York City mayor and asked him to strip bare in front of him to show he had no bruises, but he had long since learned to avoid taking the fall on the back of his head, base of his spine, elbows, or knees. As Kenneth Tynan noted, Keaton’s philosophy was that of the stoic: you fall hard, you get right back up. When he cracked a smile, the audience didn’t laugh as hard. “If something tickled me and I started to grin, the old man would hiss ‘Face, Face!’ That meant freeze the puss.”

In his 1949 essay “Comedy’s Greatest Era,” James Agee wrote that “Keaton’s face ranked almost with Lincoln’s as an early American archetype, haunting, handsome, almost beautiful, yet it was also irreducibly funny.” At the age of 21, after 16 years of kicks, jumps, tumbles and falls, he broke up the act and teamed up with actor and comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, with whom he honed the art of the sight gag to the point of balletic abstraction. Casually striking a match from a passing train in Out West (1918), Arbuckle also strikes a note of pure cinema. Keaton “lived in the camera,” said Arbuckle. Carrying the entire film around in his head allowed him to improvise on the spot, using what he called “the huddle system”: “We all get our heads together like a bunch of college-boys taking football signals. Then we figure out what comes next.” He buddied up easily. With his female costars he was fond, fraternal. “Buster was very sexy, very relaxed and easy with women,” said the silent movie star and Jazz Age

BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES

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ICONS IN THE STREAM Film archivist Tim Lanza has worked with the Buster Keaton archives for nearly 30 years. But it wasn’t until they were purchased by the Cohen Film Collection in 2011 that he finally had the resources to restore them. Now, thanks to partnerships with organizations such as the Cineteca di Bologna, Keaton’s work is available to watch in its original form for the first time in decades—including such classics as Sherlock Jr., with a previously lost sequence incorporated. “When silent films are presented in nice-looking versions, often with a great orchestral score, it helps people get over that stigma of watching a black-and-white, scratchy old movie,” Lanza says. “Keaton is timeless. He’s probably the most modern of the silent comedians.” Buster Keaton films are now streaming on Amazon Prime’s Cohen Media Channel.

COURTESY OF COHEN MEDIA

THEATER KID Clockwise, from above: Buster Keaton with Sally O’Neil in his 1926 film Battling Butler; Ford West (on motorcycle), Buster Keaton, and Steve Murphy in the Keatondirected 1924 comedy Sherlock Jr; Keaton with his parents in 1900, when they were touring the country as a popular vaudeville act.

icon Louise Brooks. “Of all the movies I made, I liked best working for Buster Keaton,” said actress Virginia Zanuck. His home life was a rockier climb—three marriages, the first to actress Natalie Talmadge in 1920 in one of Hollywood’s most celebrated weddings, ending in a nasty divorce that lost him his children and mansion. Keaton took to camping out in his latest purchase: a luxury cruiser land yacht. Sound had arrived, and Keaton’s baritone voice was “very much like that of Dante’s Satan—sepulchral, low, baleful and unmelodious,” noted Hollywood Filmograph. Lacking the business acumen of Chaplin and Lloyd, who had full ownership of their productions, Keaton’s run of great movies in the silent era were all made independently with the backing of mogul Joe Schenck, his brother-in-law, who had also married a Talmadge girl, and the films were expensive. Schenck was outraged that Buster spent $25,000 to buy the ship used in The Navigator, for which he shot 1,000 feet of underwater action, inJANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CULTURE

JOHN SPRINGER COLLECTION/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

FUNNY BONE Buster Keaton and the actor and comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, in 1925; together the pair honed the art of the sight gag. Opposite: Buster Keaton and Harold Goodwin in College (1927), directed by James W. Horne and Buster Keaton.

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“There I was, on top of the world—on a toboggan.”

COURTESY OF COHEN MEDIA

Buster Keaton

cluding a gag in which he directs traffic for a school of fish that cost $10,000 to rig up and shoot. “There I was, on top of the world—on a toboggan,” said Keaton of the tail-end of the 1920s, sensing even in his downfall the hint of a sight gag. Several of his films feature in Sight and Sound’s critics list of all-time best movies, and are now part of the National Film registry, but 1926’s The General was a flop—it was too perfect, said film critic Pauline Kael—and when Schenck bailed on Keaton’s indie productions and MGM came knocking, the comedian caved. “In the end I gave in,” he said. He was miserable at MGM, boxed in by writers—he counted 22 on one production—and creatively henpecked by Irving Thalberg. “You had to requisition a toothpick in triplicate,” complained Keaton, who struggled to find his rhythm in the sped-up clockwork of drawing-room farces. “Keaton’s comedy, for all its demented logic, was more sober and contemplative, less frenzied,” writes Curtis in his biography, perceptively. His first pictures, the two-reel shorts, unfurl with the logic of dreams. There is a sleepwalker’s stillness to his face, as he scrambles to avert catastrophe. Six of his films turn out to be dreams, most famously

Sherlock Jr., about a projectionist who dreams himself into a movie-within-a-movie. Keaton’s is the old story: the daydreamer who got chewed up by the studios. Pretty soon he had followed his father into booze, turning up for work drunk, earning telegrammed reprimands from Louis B. Mayer, and eventually getting fired by MGM in 1933. Keaton retired to the San Fernando Valley, raised chickens, and made the occasional appearance in television commercials, teenage beach-party movies, Chaplin’s Limelight, Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, and 1964’s Film, from an original screenplay by Samuel Beckett—an intriguing collaboration, for his tools included what Orson Welles called “the comedy of futility,” just like Beckett. In Hard Luck (1921) he played a man whose various suicide attempts— stepping out into traffic, lying in front of a train, drinking poison—all fail, leaving him with no option but to join an expedition to capture an armadillo. That was Keaton: capturing our sympathy without asking for it, the quiet eye of the storm, demonstrating grace under pressure, a master of the frozen puss. Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life by James Curtis is published by Knopf on February 15. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CULTURE

Jillian Cantor’s highly anticipated new novel reimagines The Great Gatsby through the eyes of its female characters. She talks to Celia McGee about Daisy and Jordan, the mystery of who shot Gatsby, and why the pandemic drew her to the Jazz Age

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earch all you want through Beautiful Little Fools, Jillian Cantor’s crackerjack reimagining of The Great Gatsby from the female point of view. Nowhere will you find the famous scene in which Jay Gatsby, having finally lured Daisy Buchanan to the gaudy spread he has rented on Long Island’s Gold Coast across from the Buchanans’ old-money estate, pulls her upstairs to his bedroom and, throwing open his wardrobe, starts yanking out armfuls of the bespoke shirts he has imported from London, until they lie in heaps around her. “That scene isn’t there,” says the internationally bestselling author, speaking from the office where she writes at home in Tucson, Arizona, “because Daisy couldn’t care less about a bunch of shirts. They’re something Nick Carraway is fixated on, and Nick has a fixation on Gatsby.” The Savile Row moment is signature F. Scott Fitzgerald, a distillation of Gatsby’s belief that money by the yachtload can buy him a future with Daisy, and a gesture about which, according to Cantor, Daisy would give not a single solitary fig. But a wedding dress? As Cantor tells it, Miss Daisy Fay of Louisville is pretty but not beautiful, fun-loving but provincial, a striving romantic already marked by private sorrows, and not a virgin (she and Jay Gatsby are lovers before the

UNFLAPPABLE Author Jillian Cantor retells this F. Scott Fitzgerald classic from a new perspective.

Great War). The wealthy Tom Buchanan—or really Tom’s intimidating mother—has paid for Daisy’s wedding gown. “The dress was a dream,” writes Cantor, “form-fitting lace with a heartshaped neckline and an excessive amount of pearl buttons—they wound all the way up from my backside to the nape of my neck.” Daisy’s best friend, the golfer Jordan Baker, is there, and buttons the last button. Then Daisy unwraps the extravagant pearl necklace Tom has sent her as a wedding present, with a price tag that Jordan lets slip: “So that’s what three hundred and fifty thousand dollars looks like on a necklace.” She fastens the clasp for Daisy. “In the mirror, the necklace was shimmering. But the weight of the pearls was unexpected, overwhelming. The necklace was so heavy it felt uncomfortable, almost like hands tightening around my throat.” Take that, Nick Carraway. And take this, Jay Gatsby: “As far as Daisy is concerned,” Cantor says, “Jay Gatsby is stalking her.” Cantor first read Gatsby at 16 in high school in suburban Newtown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and the author, now 43, has reread it at least every two years since. “It is so beautifully written,” she says, “and I started to be fascinated by the idea of point of view. Fitzgerald chose Nick Carraway for his narrative perspective as an outsider. That always made me wonder about the women.”

JILLIAN CANTOR: GALEN EVANS

Jay? ZZZZZ

As far as Daisy is concerned, Jay Gatsby is stalking her.

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ILLUSTRATION: GRAPHICAARTIS/GETTY IMAGES; AMERICAN CARTOONIST AND ILLUSTRATOR RUSSELL PATTERSON’S 1920S INK AND WATERCOLOR WHERE THERE'S SMOKE THERE'S FIRE.

She had plenty of time to speculate. Because The Great Gatsby was under strict copyright until this year, she couldn’t publish her X-chromosome version before then. Cantor, whose books are regular Oprah picks, is known for fiction featuring female protagonists caught in the crosshairs of history, whether Anne Frank’s sister Margot in the eponymous novel; Millie Stein in The Hours Count, about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg; or Marie Curie in Cantor’s last book, Half Life. Similarly, Beautiful Little Fools is told from the alternating viewpoints of four women: the doted-on Daisy; Our Lady of Golf, Jordan Baker; Tom Buchanan’s blowsy mistress, Myrtle Wilson; and Myrtle’s sister, Catherine, a minor character in the original who assumes a major role in Cantor’s novel. She is a suffragette no less, and a Greenwich Village bohemian who has a startling love affair. Cantor’s novel joins the recent tradition among such works as Madeline Miller’s Circe, Peternelle van Arsdale’s The Cold Is In Her Bones, Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke, and Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad, of reframing classic myths and canonic literature so that women do the telling of their tales. In researching her characters to fit the period, Cantor was especially enthralled to discover Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ by Sarah Churchwell. “It’s a

nonfiction book about the real murder on which Gatsby is based,” she says. “I decided to make my novel a murder mystery.” Each of Cantor’s women knows her way around a gun. Where was each of them when The Great Gatsby’s shots were fired? “Every good novel has a secret at the center of it,” Cantor says. The more her layered plot came into focus, the more she realized it wouldn’t be a question of a single secret but of multiple relationships, events, feelings, and obsessions hidden away as desperately as Gatsby’s true past. For one, Cantor was struck by the scandal of Jordan cheating at the game she loves and getting thrown off the first professional women’s golf tour. The banishment seemed extreme to her. “I thought, ‘What if Jordan had a bigger secret? I always sort of thought she might be gay.’” In Beautiful Little Fools she is, adding a compelling dimension to the novel. Simultaneously, Cantor suggests, the four women are not just united in tragedy but by the times they live in. This state of affairs and chain of historical events, Cantor says, have resonated for her as she has found herself living and working in a present that can feel precarious and unsafe. In Beautiful Little Fools, she says, “Daisy feels adrift and unmoored and without a home. I started writing this novel at the beginning of the

pandemic, which I think had a similar effect on me. On top of which a huge wildfire erupted in the mountains behind our house.” Cantor lives with her husband, the president of a software company, and their two teenage sons in the desirable Catalina Hills section of Tucson, in a Mediterranean-style house built in the ’80s that she adamantly stresses has nothing Great Gatsby about it. “We almost had to evacuate,” she says. The larger picture, she adds, shows a striking similarity between the periods when her novel and Fitzgerald’s take place and “so much of what we’ve lived through the last five years. Until I wrote my novel, I never really thought about the fact that the Roaring Twenties of The Great Gatsby were a response to the First World War and its ending, and the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918, that’s incredibly reminiscent of the pandemic.” Cantor is more sanguine these days, and is already hard at work writing her next book. She doesn’t want to divulge too much, but allows, “It’s another female-focused book with a historical aspect, and it’s sort of connected to another famous novel.” The novel, she says, “is even more beautiful” than The Great Gatsby.” Readers, start your guesswork. Beautiful Little Fools is published by Harper Perennial. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Winter Tales The four stories perfect for fireside reading include one explorer on another, personal essays from Ann Patchett, and two riveting, long-awaited novels

so, he stresses the importance of the skills they both gleaned from military service—Shackleton in the Royal Navy and Fiennes in the Royal Scots Greys—as well as the invaluable benefit of lessons learned from those who have gone before. But to succeed requires far more than that. It is abundantly clear from Fiennes’s narrative that both author and subject have had one critical advantage in achieving their objectives—a canny ability to channel wit and charisma to make the most of opportunities, both presented and sought. What emerges in Shackleton: The Biography is not only a greater appreciation of just what it took for Shackleton to accomplish the seemingly impossible, but also a more fulsome picture of the multidisciplinary training and mental fortitude necessary to operate in and endure extreme conditions only to return home eager to embark on the next adventure, however harrowing it promises to be. —ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

Shackleton: The Biography by Ranulph Fiennes (Pegasus)

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Grove Press)

“To write about Hell, it certainly helps if you have been there,” muses Sir Ranulph Fiennes in the opening salvo of his latest book, an engaging biography of his pioneering predecessor, Sir Ernest Shackleton. And this British polar legend, who has led more than 30 expeditions and penned some two dozen volumes, would know. As Fiennes is quick to point out, “no other Shackleton biographer has man-hauled a heavy sledge load through the great crevasse fields of the Beardmore Glacier, explored undiscovered icefields, or walked a thousand miles on poisoned feet, hundreds of miles away from civilization.” All manner of volumes on Shackleton— including the explorer’s own, South—have been written in the century since he famously led his 27-man crew to safety after their ship Endurance became trapped in pack ice and ultimately sank during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1916. But this is the first to dive deep into the Anglo-Irish explorer’s formative years and the seminal experiences that shaped his character. Throughout the book, Fiennes works to separate the man from the myth by weaving in his own firsthand knowledge of the polar regions. In doing

In this slender, exquisite jewel of a novel from the renowned short-story writer Claire Keegan, a secret smothers an Irish town like a blanket over a baby’s face. In the weeks leading up to Christmas 1985, the community of New Ross is in the claw of the recession, with men losing their jobs and children scavenging for fuel. Up on the hill stands the local convent, “a powerful-looking place” presided over by the mother superior, while down below Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, married man, and father of five daughters, works long hours in the yard, “determined to carry on, to keep his head down and stay on the right side of people, and to keep providing for his girls.” But as the holidays approach he is beset with anxieties, childhood memories arrive “out of the blue,” and strange emotions threaten his peace of mind. One early morning, while delivering an order to the convent, Furlong unbolts the coal house door and makes a devastating discovery. What he does next—or does not do—becomes of burning consequence, not just for Furlong and his family, but for an entire community. With just four slim works, Claire Keegan has edged past her peers to become Ireland’s national

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author. Often set in southeast Ireland, where Keegan grew up on a farm, the youngest of six children, her short stories contain cruelty and violence: families crack apart, there are suicides and rapes, and children go missing. But the acts themselves often lap at the edges of the yarns, while the landscape creates an ominous, Hardyesque quality. Keegan understands at a deep level that narrative tension is often about withholding information, that the right word in the right place can evoke volumes of social history, and with Small Things Like These, her first novel, her art of subtraction is on full display. Furlong’s earliest memory is of learning to crawl in a kitchen “of serving plates, a black range—hot! hot!—and a shining floor of square tiles,” his childhood surrounded by love telegraphed in one short clause. At moments of peak intensity, Keegan slows time down, so that the baking of a fruit cake, or a long walk through a neighborhood, vibrates with a sense of time and place, and the act of reading becomes as close as it gets to the experience. At the end of the work, in a note on the text, Keegan relates that in Ireland’s infamous Magdalene laundries, run by Catholic orders and operating from the 18th century up until the mid-1980s, an estimated 30,000 unmarried mothers were “concealed, incarcerated and forced to labour.” These institutions, she writes, were “run and financed by the Catholic Church in concert with the Irish state.” In Small Things Like These, Keegan has produced a sublime novel that asks profound questions about power and religion, about a nation’s complicity and guilt, about the difficult nature of restitution and the meaning of love, and the boundless courage of the human heart. —HEATHER HODSON

IRISH EYES Small Things Like These author Claire Keegan

CLAIRE KEEGAN BY FRÉDÉRIC STUCIN

CULTURE

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CONVERSATION OVER COFFEE These Precious Days author Ann Patchett

ANN PATCHETT BY HEIDI ROSS

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (Harper)

The writer Ann Patchett is a woman who has mastered virtually every aspect of the literary experience, far beyond her reputation for successfully writing in different voices and styles. In addition to being the mind behind decades of celebrated novels, nonfiction works, and children’s books, she is a lifelong magazine contributor; a Nashville bookstore owner; a 2019 Pulitzer finalist; and the author of the 2001 work Bel Canto, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction and PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction and was later turned into an opera. In 2012, she was on the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. A year later, she released This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a celebrated memoir collection of vignettes spanning her childhood, her early career, and her maturation, both personally and professionally. Patchett offers us a sequel to that collection in her latest work, These Precious Days: Essays. Her reflections take us on a journey through her own experiences with marriage and death, with consumerism and youth, with Catholicism, Nashville, and Paris. Her recollections are gloriously intimate, with a series of memories recounted with an honesty and freshness that take them out of the past and into the present. Ever the seasoned writer, her offerings, which read like a conversation over coffee, are as varied in length as the experiences she shares: some of the essays in this collection are just a few pages, and some are stories spanning years, which she takes her time telling. All of them invite you in. The stories in These Precious Days prove that embedded in life’s seeming randomness—a French woman with a tattoo, a forgotten school award, a knitting pattern—are learning moments you may not recognize until their memories are softly triggered, sometimes a lifetime later. Patchett takes on the task of exploring the complexities of living and approaches it with a depth that is grounded in gentility and lightheartedness. She shares with the reader the people and moments in her life in the same

way that she cares for the characters in her novels—with reverence, dignity, and love. In doing so, she showcases a trademark vulnerability that comes through in her fiction. In These Precious Days, Patchett maintains a level of trust with the reader that allows her to freely relate a lifetime of both sudden and gradual growth, of formative moments of disappointment, and of quiet moments of joy and of friendship. —MARK LIBATIQUE

The Final Case by David Guterson (Knopf)

“There’s no law against being patently evil,” argues Royal, the eighty-three-year-old criminal defense attorney at the center of David Guterson’s latest novel, The Final Case. “There’s no such charge as ‘patently evil.’ ” If there were such a charge, it would be delivered for the case at hand: two white Americans adopted an Ethiopian girl who later died from hypothermia, just steps outside their front door. But because that charge doesn’t exist, because the word “guilty” holds complex legal meaning beyond its moral definition, Guterson’s protagonist chooses to take up the case of the Christian fun-

damentalist Betsy Harvey, accused of murdering her adopted daughter Abeba on a cold, wet night. In this courtroom drama, the author’s first since the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction-winning national bestseller Snow Falling on Cedars, Guterson turns the genre on its head. We don’t wonder “whodunit” “how-was-it-done,” or even what the trial’s outcome will be. The facts are bare. The defendant is going to jail. What Royal is arguing for is “first-degree-manslaughter” rather than “homicide by abuse,” as he attempts to uphold the precise terms of the law. And yet, through a seeming focus on judicial terminology, the case’s trauma becomes concrete, assessable in the reader’s hands. Our nameless narrator, Royal’s son, uses court-recorded dialogue, testimony, and journalistic interviews to launch into a kaleidoscopic range of opposing perspectives. We hear from Betsy’s mother, who believes that her family is on trial for being “Christian and white”; Abeba’s adoptive sister, who didn’t know how to save her; and Abeba’s adoptive brother, who thought that by following his mother’s commands, he was saving her. Through orphanage reports, thumb drives, and schoolroom essays, we slowly come to know Abeba Temesgen, a child who once consoled toddlers when they cried, feared hyenas, and quietly believed that this family “can’t break me” right up until she fell to her death. As the novel unfolds, its legal framework reveals its true stake: understanding how such a tragedy could occur within the systems we take part in. And yet, life continues. Between harrowing court sessions, the narrator takes a tree-pruning class with his wife and watches passersby from his local café. He drives his father to work, listens to him reminisce on old cases in the middle of the night, and holds him when he ails. Hope triumphs through this vision of an old man and his son, trying their best in quiet ways to uphold America’s societal framework and the very foundation of the legal system, so that “the law can get on with what the law’s about.” —ARANYA JAIN JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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CULTURE YSL Lexicon (Rizzoli, $65)

To the Letter The ABCs of a fashion giant

COURTESY OF FONDATION PIERRE BERGÉ–YVES SAINT LAURENT, PARIS

VIVE LA PRANCE Saint Laurent’s 1965 designs for a ballet, as well as for rock star Johnny Hallyday.

Yves Saint Laurent arguably navigated the radical shifts of 20th-century fashion better than any other designer. In 1957, he took over the house of Christian Dior after its eponymous founder died. He launched his own prêt-à-porter line, Rive Gauche, just as fashionable 1960s youth were rejecting the formality of the past. His introduction of "Le Smoking," a women’s tuxedo, in 1966 was far ahead of the curve when women’s suits caught on in the 1970s. And when haute couture made its roaring comeback in the 1980s, he proved he still had more than a few tricks up his sleeve. YSL Lexicon may not delve deeply into the impact Saint Laurent had on the fashion industry, but it is an excellent primer on all things Yves, from his most iconic collections and motifs to the people in his life who shaped his career, like Pierre Bergé—his longtime business partner, label cofounder, and erstwhile lover with whom he entered into a civil union shortly before his death in 2008—and his muse Loulou de la Falaise. Released on the 60th anniversary of his first runway show, the book features archival drawings and photos, as well as essays by Hamish Bowles, Diane von Furstenberg, and Amy Fine Collins, among others. —Aria Darcella

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Table Stakes

TOP: © ANTONIO MONFREDA AND GIORGIO HORN FROM CABANA ISSUE 13 S/S 2020; BELOW: © KENSINGTON LEVERN; PRODUCTS: PERSIA TABLECLOTH, FLORAL PLATES, ASSORTED © RICHARD GINORI X CABANA

A maximalist magazine’s guide to the home

Casa Cabana by Martina Mondadori, foreword by Aerin Lauder (Vendome, $85)

Upon its launch in the spring of 2014, Cabana magazine quickly became a cult favorite among maximalist aesthetes who draw their inspiration from Renaissance paintings; the visual cacophony of Moroccan souks; and the richly patterned textiles of houses such as Etro, Renzo Mongiardino, and, most recently, Gucci, where an over-the-top design ethos has been cultivated under the watchful eye of Alessandro Michele. The brainchild of Milanese publishing scion Martina Mondadori, the limited-edition, fabric-covered shelter semiannual is celebrated once again in Casa Cabana, the volume a fitting companion to the previously released Cabana Anthology (Vendome, 2018). A veritable feast for the eyes that Mondadori likens to a “visual atlas to trigger the imagination,” Casa Cabana is first and foremost an ode to the joys of entertaining at home, albeit a sumptuously appointed one. Its riot of glorious pattern-on-pattern place settings and ornate interior details is complemented by a suite of simple yet splendid recipes, such as mozzarella grilled with fresh lemon leaves and drizzled with olive oil. “This is not a book on entertaining,” Mondadori writes. “It is about setting the table, [or rather] ‘dressing it,’ [that very act] a prelude to a moment of conviviality, en famille or with friends.” —ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER MOROCCAN ROLL Rooms with a point-of-view from Casa Cabana. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger photographed in her Mustique home.

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“WE HAVE SEVEN KIDS TOGETHER. TO KEEP IT ALL TOGETHER WE HAVE TO BE UNITED AS A TEAM.”

Dee Lovely

DEE OCLEPPO HILFIGER

SHE’S DELIGHTFUL, SHE’S DELICIOUS, SHE’S DEE OCLEPPO HILFIGER. CONSTANCE C. R. WHITE SPEAKS WITH THE DESIGNER, AND HER HUSBAND TOMMY, IN PALM BEACH

KATE MARTIN/TRUNK ARCHIVE

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hen Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger along with her husband and fellow designer, Tommy Hilfiger, decamped from Miami to Palm Beach a little over a year ago, one reason was to find the right school for their son. Like many other business and creative leaders, the family is putting down deeper roots in this Arcadian community, formerly associated with midcentury snowbirds like C. Z. Guest. Today, the designer couple is overseeing the (they hope) two-year-long renovation of a new home on Billionaires Row, while they reside in a smaller house nearby. And Ocleppo Hilfiger herself is busier than ever. Five years into being the creative director and co-owner of Judith Leiber, the iconic handbag and accessory line, she also designs Dee Ocleppo, her affordable luxury collection. She’s mother or stepmother to seven children—three of whom have special needs—all the while being the supportive partner of one of the world’s top designers.

So yes, Ocleppo Hilfiger has some balls in the air. “There’s a lot of juggling going on here,” she said matter-of-factly. “More than people know or can understand.” Palm Beach affords the couple a chance to let go, to every now and again drop one of those balls and not worry anything will break except the waves on the Atlantic. “The lifestyle here is a lot more relaxed,” she said. “Both Tommy and I have slowed down a lot. I don’t know that we would have made this change without Covid.” Before the move to South Florida, their daily schedules were stacked, with cars zooming them back and forth between Greenwich, Connecticut, and Manhattan to attend meeting after meeting. “It was just hustle, bustle all the time,” said Hilfiger. Now, they’re more likely to be doing another sort of Zooming. For our interview, Ocleppo Hilfiger logs in to the video chat from her bedroom, which, along with their living room, doubles as an office for her and her husband. Tall and slim, with long, JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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“I DON’T FEEL COMPETITIVE WITH TOMMY AT ALL. HE’S LIKE A MENTOR.” DEE OCLEPPO HILFIGER

THIS SPREAD: KATE MARTIN/TRUNK ARCHIVE

LADY OF THE HOUSE In addition to homes in Palm Beach, New York, and the Caribbean (pictured), Dee and husband Tommy Hilfiger spend time each year in Aspen.

polished blond hair, she’s wearing a simple black top and stylish large, black-frame reading glasses. She has a friendly, no-nonsense manner, and at 55 she could still model. Space won’t be an issue in the new digs, which the couple purchased for a reported $46.25 million. When finished the home will offer seven bedrooms—five in the main house and two in the guest cottage. There will also be his-and-hers offices. Hilfiger exuberantly describes the style of the house as Old World tropical to which Ocleppo Hilfiger adds, “Classic. Palm Beach Regency.” The town “has a great history,” she continued. “It’s interesting what was done in the twenties and forties, so when you buy these houses there’s a lot of work to do to make the house applicable to today.” One of the features Hilfiger likes most is the almost three-acre property’s water views on both sides: the Atlantic Ocean in the front and Lake Worth Lagoon at the back. They’re working with interior designer Cindy Rinfret, who is to Greenwich interiors what Lilly Pulitzer is to Palm Beach

fashion. She is known for her mastery of a certain Greenwich style, classic yet comfortable with luxurious drapery, lush furnishings like tufted bedheads, and touches of blue, articulated in her luscious tome from Rizzoli in 2013, Greenwich Style: Inspired Family Homes. Hilfiger thought she’d also be perfect for the Palm Beach redo. They have collaborated on a slew of projects together, including the Hilfigers’ former Greenwich estate and the Plaza penthouse apartment he sold in 2019. He also points out that he and his wife are “not your typical client whom a designer comes in and decorates for. We are very involved in every single detail. The colors, the tiles, the floors.” But he added, Rinfret “has great ideas and she executes very well.” During the week emails, phone calls, and texts between designer and clients fly back and forth. Ocleppo Hilfiger hopes their house will be finished by the end of the year, but there’s some doubt that will happen, what with historic supply chain and labor disruptions. “It’s crazy,” Hilfiger exclaimed of the worker shortage. “I don’t know. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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“DEE HAS A VERY CLEAR PICTURE OF WHAT SHE WANTS HER BRAND TO BE.”

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TOMMY HILFIGER

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THIS SPREAD: COURTESY OF DEE OCLEPPO

IL GATTOPARDO Opposite: Dee and Tommy meeting in Naples, Italy, with her partner, Matteo Armillotta, and the owner of In Moda, which produces her designs.

We’d like to be done in 2022, but everything has become so slow.” When they’re not working on the house, the couple go on walks every morning. They enjoy seeing friends like Harry and Laura Slatkin, one of the reasons they were ultimately lured to Palm Beach. And what luxury fashion girl or guy wouldn’t love Worth Avenue? Exploring and discovering hidden restaurants and boutiques on the fabled shopping boulevard delights Ocleppo Hilfiger, who misses the inspiration she found in New York and L.A. “Tommy says it’s like a Rodeo Drive but it’s beyond Rodeo Drive,” she said. But she also draws succor from her husband as a business adviser and confidant. “We are best friends, first of all,” said Hilfiger. “We like to go to the same places, we like the same things. That makes it pretty easy.” It helps that he loves Palm Beach’s great shopping and restaurants as much as his wife, and the ability to do all sorts of sports, especially if it involves water. Last fall, she traveled with her husband to London when he was honored by the British Fashion Council. Just two weeks earlier, she was by his side when he received the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars Superstar Award in New York. Yet she has a healthy sense of self, and no illusions about what it means to be married to one of the top designers in the world while still maintaining her own mental and emotional space as a designer. “There have been many times that I’m with him and people don’t see me,” she said. “It’s fine. I get it. I’m fine with my husband getting the attention. I’m proud of him and he’s proud of me.” She added: “I don’t feel competitive with Tommy at all. He’s like a mentor. I’m never jealous of his success. He’s been doing this for 30plus years. I happen to be lucky enough to be in a healthy, loving, respectful relationship. We have seven kids together. To keep it all together we have to be united as a team.” At this time of year, the couple leaves the Palm Beach sun for family skiing in Aspen. They’ll take off again for their son’s spring break to travel to parts unknown—though Hilfiger is known to spend plenty of time vacationing in Mustique, the glamorous Caribbean isle where they also have a beautiful home. Coming up in March, they celebrate Hilfiger’s birthday, when he turns 71. But while Palm Beach may have slowed the hustle, business is never not happening for this

couple. Ocleppo Hilfiger’s regularly visits Italy, where her signature brand is produced; Hilfiger plans to travel to his brand’s European headquarters in Amsterdam this spring. Double-duty designers are no longer rare: Raf Simons designs his own collection and cocreates Prada; Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia helm Oscar de la Renta and their own Monse line, and so on. But how on earth do they manage the workload? Ocleppo Hilfiger waves off any concerns. “It’s easy for me to keep them separate,” she said. The two are so different: Judith Leiber’s collectible handbags and minaudières are an instantly recognizable motif of the high life, with prices to match. Dee Ocleppo, by contrast, is an affordable luxury lifestyle brand that boasts minimalist cashmere sportswear with distinctive touches like monogrammed letters or luxe jogging pants. There are stylish utility boots that Ocleppo Hilfiger says “are not too chunky,” and the kind of smooth leather totes and cross-body bags that would be as at home slung over the shoulder of a suburban mom as an urban professional fashionista. This year, she will add silk pajamas, and expand the personalized monograms that have proven popular with customers. “Dee has a very clear picture of what she wants her brand to be,” said Hilfiger. Ocleppo Hilfiger reluctantly tried livestreaming for the first time a few months ago. Hosted with her friend, the editor and stylist Mary Alice Stephenson, she found it actually wasn’t too bad. “Tommy really pushed me to do that,” she said. He’s been a big believer in collaborations and in livestream shopping (after having watched it take off in China) as a growth stimulator for fashion brands. And she continues her run of partnering with artists to create distinctive handbags for her collection, and for Judith Leiber she has forged collaborations with Timex and Iris Apfel. As for Hilfiger, he’s following up a head-turning partnership with Timberland this winter with a 2022 collaboration with actor Anthony Ramos, now famous for Hamilton and In the Heights. It will all be done from a home base with year-round sunshine and endless beaches, where shimmering waters meet clear skies, and Miami and Disney World are less than a three-hour drive away. And—as we hate to remind Ocleppo Hilfiger’s son—it also has great schools.

THE GOODS A cream Italian lambskin Vasto tote handle handbag, and a ruby pebbled leather Catania camera bag, from the Dee Ocleppo line.

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Kiss & Tell

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FOR THE 20TH-CENTURY CHIC SET, AN INVITATION TO A PARTY AT AMADO WAS ONE OF THE MOST COVETED IN PALM BEACH. AUGUSTUS MAYHEW SHARES THE SECRETS OF ITS LEGENDARY GUEST BOOK

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PUCKER UP A 1941 spread from the Amado guest book records not only the signatures of its visiting Hearsts, Sanfords, and Millers, but also their preferred shade of lipstick.

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OPENING SPREAD: AMADO SCRAPBOOK PHOTOGRAPHY BY AUGUSTUS MAYHEW. HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY; HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY

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very court needs its courtiers, and nowhere is this more true than among the extravagantly appointed winter palaces of Palm Beach. Over the last century, perhaps the most glittering guest list belongs to Amado, the oceanfront sandcastle designed by Addison Mizner and built circa 1920 for the Drexel Morgan heir Mary Astor Paul Munn and her husband, Charles Alexander Munn. In the aftermath of the Great War, the town was transformed into a Mediterranean seaside village of barrel-tile roofs and sun-splashed patios. As contractors finished both Amado and Louwana (for brother Gurnee Munn next door), the family’s comings and goings were chronicled in the social columns alongside updates on Paris Singer’s exclusive new Everglades Club, based on Mayfair and Monte Carlo models. Likewise conceived with European style, the Munns’ Ocean Boulevard drawing room and their Rue de Montévidéo salon in Paris afforded a mise-en-scène for guests with names like Astor, Hohenlohe, Tennyson, and Hearst. Kathleen Dewar, wife of English whisky baron John “Lucky” Dewar, mixed with aperitif heir Paul Dubonnet and French industrial scion Anne Michelin. More than just Ivy League and Main Line, Mary and Charlie’s circle included café society, blue book notables, boldface names from Walter Winchell’s column, and Lost Generation moderns.

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Amado’s storied guest book is the ultimate kissand-tell page turner.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY

LIP SERVICE Clockwise from top: the signatures of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor from a visit in April 1941; the kissers of Rose Kennedy, Lucille Vanderbilt, and Dolly O’Brien, who is pictured stepping out with Amado’s owner, Charlie Munn. Opposite page: The house in its golden age, plus Edith “Tee-Tee” Baker Schiff’s smacker over the Hancock of artist Philip Giddens.

Mary and Charlie divorced in 1930, but he continued the house parties without her, and Amado’s 80-page guest book endures as a treasure for cultural anthropologists and gossips alike. Inscribed by 20th-century tycoons, aristocrats, and fourth wives, with boldface signatures and cupid’s-bow lipstick imprints from dames and dowagers, it is the ultimate kiss-and-tell page turner. Dorothy Spreckels, the second Mrs. Munn, donated this handwritten social register to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County archive, where it sits alongside the Cocoanut Grove House’s 1880s guest registers, the B & T’s founding membership list, and a record of Marjorie Post’s Mara-Lago’s bedroom assignments for ambassadors attending the Red Cross Ball. But none of these other documents reflects Palm Beach’s laissezfaire resort life as boldly as the Max Factor shades immortalized in this singular book, recording a unique visitors’ ritual whose origins are long forgotten, but were possibly inspired by the house’s name (which means “beloved” in Spanish). Amado entertained everyone, from Marjorie Oelrichs (dropped from the Social Register when she married bandleader Eddy Duchin;

they are the parents of the current bandleader and social mainstay Peter Duchin) to Mrs. Post. As Mrs. E. F. Hutton (in the second of her four marriages), Post went from the 1920s’ glitziest hostess at Mar-a-Lago to become Mrs. Joseph Davies, an occasional Palm Beach houseguest during the 1930s. She wasn’t the only one who changed spouses (those louses!) like blouses. Edith “Tookie” Mortimer, styled the Countess di Zoppola during the 1920s, was Reno-vated in 1929 and returned to husband hunting. Evangeline Johnson was Mrs. Leopold Stokowski, and then later Princess Zalstem-Zalessky. At Amado, she could enjoy the company of her Spence school alum philanthropist and shipping heiress Alice DeLamar, who in 1927 funded the seminal book Florida Architecture of Addison Mizner, documenting the architect’s original designs for his Palm Beach houses. After her divorce, Mary left Palm Beach and returned to Paris, where she married the renowned aviator Jacques Allez. During the war Madame Allez, code-named Pauline, aided the French Resistance, garnering postwar French and US honors. The children shuttled between JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

More than just Ivy League and Main Line, Mary and Charlie Munn’s circle included café society, blue book notables, boldface names from Walter Winchell’s column, and Lost Generation moderns.

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HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

More than just Ivy League and Main Line, Mary and Charlie Munn’s circle included café society, blue book notables, boldface names from Walter Winchell’s column, and Lost Generation moderns.

Philadelphia deb balls, spring vacations at the B & T, and their mother’s Paris apartment and a villa in the South of France. With Charlie and Gurnee both on the Everglades Club’s membership committee, the latter also running the resort’s leading real estate brokerage, Charlie became known as “Mr. Palm Beach” and a majordomo for house parties with a revolving door of Harrimans and Vanderbilts undeterred by Prohibition, the Great Depression, or World War II blackouts and rations. Charlie’s ascot, blue blazer, and flannel slacks placed him on best dressed lists, and his dinnerand-a-movie nights were coveted invitations. In December 1933, he reunited with Mary to introduce their deb daughters Mary and Frances at a joint coming-out dinner dance for 600 guests. Six years later, tragedy: Pauline, the Munns’ eldest daughter, died unexpectedly in Paris at age 29. As war clouds gathered over Europe, many of the Munns’ friends fled, looking for sanctuary in the United States. Charlie hosted an under-the-radar soiree for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (when he was stashed out of harm’s way by the British as governor of the nearby Bahamas)

during their first Palm Beach campaign in 1941. As the town moved to a war footing, The Breakers was converted into the Ream Army General Hospital, and the Biltmore Hotel became a Coast Guard facility. Residents enlisted for the armed services and the OSS, as well as volunteer ambulance and jeep drivers on beach patrol. Even so, there was time for the B & T’s 16th Annual Tennis Tournament. In 1953, Charlie married his longtime paramour, California sugar heir Dorothy Spreckels, who had been part of the Palm Beach–Paris scene since the 1930s. And with a framed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II going up in the living room after her coronation that year, guests like Henry Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon (whose own home, Highclere Castle, is known to the current generation of Americans as the fictional Downton Abbey), and Eileen, Duchess of Sutherland, might have felt like they were at an English country house. Charlie and Dorothy attempted to keep the seasonal house party afloat during the postwar era, even though Palm Beach was ready to move on with “Killer Joe” Piro and Régine, just as the Twist was followed by discotheques. In January 1971, Dorothy and Charlie basked in

a flash of limelight, making international headlines when they chartered a Pan Am Boeing 707 to fly them directly from Paris to Palm Beach with their staff and a crew of nine. Ten hours and $20,000 later, the plane landed at PBI with Dorothy having downed a tray of martinis and hot dogs with French mustard. By the time of Charlie’s death in 1980, the legendary parties at Amado had long since faded into memory. (Dorothy lived on there until her death in 2000, after which the landmarked house was sold and restored by its current owners.) Nonetheless, remembered they were. As a final tribute, the Palm Beach Daily News declared him “The Grand Seigneur of Palm Beach,” a fitting title for a social lion whose lipstick-stained guest book survives as a high-society Rosetta stone, one of the most singular and enchanting records of the Jazz Age. PRINTS CHARMING Above: inside the party palace. Opposite page, clockwise from top: the marks of neighbors Harrison and Mona Williams; art collector Kathryn Bache “Kitty” Miller; film actress Mary Duncan (aka Mrs. Stephen Sanford); and Robert Q. Blanche, who made his singing debut at the Stork Club in 1932 and was among the first society swells to step out of the Social Register and onto the stage. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Landed Gently WHEN THE WORLD WENT INTO LOCKDOWN, ANDREW SOLOMON HAD JUST FINISHED A DECADE-LONG RENOVATION OF MARIENRUH, THE STORIED DUTCHESS COUNTY ESTATE HE PURCHASED IN 2006. HE DESCRIBES HOW THE COUNTRY RETREAT BECAME HIS FAMILY’S HAVEN DURING QUARANTINE

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MARIENRUH PHOTOGRAPHY BY PIETER ESTERSOHN FROM PIETER ESTERSOHN, LIFE ALONG THE HUDSON, THE HISTORIC COUNTRY ESTATES OF THE LIVINGSTON FAMILY.

UPON REFLECTION Marienruh, built for heiress Alice Astor and her husband Prince Serge Obolensky in 1926, sits on 100 acres overlooking the Hudson River.

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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS At a holiday gathering at Marienruh, Andrew Solomon (in red trousers) stands with (left to right) his husband, John Habich; son, George; daughter, Blaine; and her mother, also Blaine.

John joked that my idea of appreciating the countryside was looking out the window at sunset through the bottom of a wine glass.

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e spent ten years renovating and restoring our country house in Rhinebeck (corrupt builders, hidden conditions, the town zoning board) and we moved in, officially, in late 2018. There is little I loathe more than moving: the boxes were everywhere, the good offices of our beleaguered cleaning ladies seemed barely to clear the dust, there were no curtains, the furniture was either missing or not yet reupholstered, the plumbing made inexplicable shrieking noises, and the phones rang even when no one was calling. The yard was strewn with outdoor furniture that had not yet found its place, giving the impression that we were hoping to be cast in a remake of The Beverly Hillbillies. The books! Box upon box upon box. Getting the books on the shelves in any kind of coherent order was a project that demanded only a month or so of full-time attention, and who doesn’t have a month to while away in such a rewarding pursuit? Things we hated awaited wall space (why did we ever frame that?) and things we loved were impossible to hang. The hot water was so hot that you could burn yourself if you turned the faucet wrong. The Internet came and went like a poltergeist, and the oven could be set

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only to raw or burnt. Our odd-sized bed had no sheets that fit, so we were camping out in a guest room without good lamps, leaving us with flashlights balanced on our knees for reading stories to our son George, then nine. Cumbersome things neither my husband John nor I remembered purchasing had been delivered to our house, and our favorite Regency settee had vanished along with the German baroque cradle John gave me the year we agreed to have a child. We had bemoaned the costs of construction terminable and interminable and celebrated being done with it, but somehow as we moved in, we incurred a panoply of peculiar bills that would have daunted the Sultan of Brunei. In addition, there was a human cost to calculate: things I loved because they had belonged to my grandmother offended John’s aesthetic, while things he loved because they had belonged to his grandmother required of me a tact I had seldom deployed in our twenty years together. He had bought things he knew I wouldn’t like and then given them to me as presents so that I had to live with them. I had bought things I knew he might not like and then daringly positioned them where I thought he would accede to their display. I rearranged about half the things he objected to, and

he caved on about half the things I objected to. I gave John a drawing as an anniversary gift that he correctly observed would look best in my study, where it now hangs—in the end, then, a present to myself. All marriages have their politics and ours had been fairly benign; now, we seemed to burst with arguments both suppressed and expressed. I pride myself on my intellect and humanitarianism, but I never forget that my first serious boyfriend and I broke up over our differing opinions about the curtains in a hotel in Sintra. Maps of Portugal still make me sad. Moving in was far more gradual than we had anticipated. John vehemently took on the picture-hanging, rather to my irritation, then proved gifted at it, rather to my surprise. I ran the show on the pelmets since I’m the pelmet enthusiast in our family (every family should have one). I ordered all the dog beds and most of the lampshades. We had of course been in negotiations like this since the first designs were proposed for the house by our beloved friend and trusted designer Robert Couturier, whom I had known for thirty years and who had been our stalwart through the interminable construction process. Robert functioned as a visionary therapist, proposing alternate solutions whenever John and I were fixated

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PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL SHARKEY

on opposing strategies. I could tell when Robert was pretending to agree with John for the sake of peace, but I could never tell when he was pretending to agree with me. I mostly agreed with Robert; doing so made life easier and his taste ultimately accorded with my own. But there were frustrating inefficiencies in the process. I tried to wheedle and beguile out of his office the fundamental decorative items we so clearly needed, then occasionally got all dramatic and peevish until, bit by bit, things began to show up. I occasionally got dramatic and peevish with John, too, and so did he with me. George watched all this neurotic conflict in a state of bewilderment. He had seen us agree on so many direly important things and now there was a basso continuo of passive aggression thrumming under our happy family. The first year in a new house is always experimental, but by Christmas of 2019, we had resolved many of the most pressing issues and I had ceased to regret that we ever contemplated a house in the country. We passed some pleasant winter weekends in Rhinebeck and drank champagne in front of the fire. The phones no longer rang at all, most of the rooms felt unfinished but habitable, and my beloved research assistant had dealt with the books. The lighting was all wrong in most of the

“It is true that I sometimes felt like a B-movie Marie Antoinette in this rural idyll . . . but the first order of business was to remain cheerful, and we mostly did.”

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DIRECT HIT George nails his father with a snowball.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL SHARKEY

rooms but we at least knew how we wanted to fix it. The pot rack! Well, one can live without a pot rack for a while if the beleaguered man who is making it does gorgeous metalwork on a fitful basis. I finally had the family photos all printed to the right sizes for the nineteenth-century frames I had collected and out they went on the big console tables in the living room. They made the house feel like ours—at least, they made it feel that way to me. When George’s spring break, 2020, rolled around, we headed off for a week in the tropics with my extended family, only to depart early because the border was being sealed. Upon our return, we drove from the airport to Rhinebeck and moved temporarily into living permanently in what we’d imagined to be a weekend house. As the Covid months wore on, the place took on the feeling that places have only when they are genuinely inhabited, the character no house has unless its owners can find their way through it in the dark. We were no longer perched there like birds ready to take wing with a change of the wind. We burrowed in like moles. I had always been a city boy, born and bred in New York and later an inhabitant of London, of Moscow, of big, busy metropolises where everything was happening at 64

George, thoroughly exasperated, finally said, “Daddy, don’t you ever talk about anything besides Mormons and curtains?”

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once. John joked that my idea of appreciating the countryside was looking out the window at sunset through the bottom of a wine glass. But now there were no cities: New York as we’d known it was erased. While isolation would have felt sinister in Manhattan, it felt appropriate in Rhinebeck. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that this twelve-years-by-then project had come to fruition in time for us to retreat there and was perhaps grateful also that it hadn’t been ready sooner, that we were still discovering the thrill of residence, which made our sequestration feel more like an adventure and less like a prison sentence. Unlike many of my friends, I could go out for walks any time and without a mask; I could take George to the trampoline; I could eat on the loggia. John had planted a vegetable garden and we had tomatoes so sweet they might have been nectarines. It is true that I sometimes felt like a B-movie Marie Antoinette in this rural idyll—frankly, I would have gone for a flock of sheep and an outfit designed for appearing to herd them—but the first order of business was to remain cheerful, and we mostly did. I arrived at material obsessions to distract me from the fact that we might all die soon from a deadly virus that had already snuffed out people

I knew, leaving us quietly bereft. When I couldn’t cope with reports of refrigerated trucks full of corpses, I measured for the missing lampshades. When I was working on my book and failed to persuade the words to come, I went online looking for antique tapestry cushions. When I felt that the intensity of sheltering with my husband, my son, and my surrogate father-in-law was more than I could bear, I rearranged the dishes so that they had sensible permanent locations. And when the fact that Donald Trump was president struck terror and outrage into my soul, I figured out where we could best deploy the Chinese Chippendale table (which was definitely not Chinese and probably not Chippendale, though it was, at least, a table). This whole line of behavior drove our son wild with irritation. George is boyish to an extent that seems almost embarrassing to gay parents. He would happily wear the same t-shirt and nylon shorts (where on earth did the nylon shorts even come from?) every day and wouldn’t brush his hair for a month at a time. He likes his comforts and wants the bed to be yielding and the pillows to be soft, but whether the linens are trimmed in the same color as the upholstered box spring is a matter to which he refused attention even after it

was delineated to him a dozen triumphant times. He liked good restaurants when one could still go to them and he is a food snob, turning up his nose at overcooked fish or doughy pizza, but whether he is served on Spode, Meissen, Flora Danica, or paper plates is a matter of sheer indifference to him. He knows our house to be beautiful more than he perceives it to be beautiful and he doesn’t much care either way. I had been working for months on an article about polygamy and polyamory, the details of which I thought as interesting a topic as any other available one, given that none of us was doing anything but that (me), George’s schoolwork (him—and he definitely did not want to discuss it at dinner), and planting things (John). So I often shared information about my day’s progress on Utah fundamentalism. George, thoroughly exasperated, finally said, “Daddy, don’t you ever talk about anything besides Mormons and curtains?” Reprinted from Home: A Celebration, edited by Charlotte Moss, Rizzoli, copyright 2021. The book is published in collaboration with No Kid Hungry, a campaign committed to ending hunger and poverty. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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LIVING

FOR INTERIORS TASTEMAKERS, THE DESIGN CENTER OF THE AMERICAS MAY BE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL DESTINATION IN SOUTH FLORIDA, WRITES ARIA DARCELLA

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DESIGN CENTER OF THE AMERICAS: SCOTT FRANCES, COURTESY OF THE DESIGN CENTER OF THE AMERICAS

Sun, Sea and Style

TREASURE TROVE Above, the entrance to the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, Florida; opposite, shelving units finished with white gold leaf by Baker Interiors, which has a showroom in the DCOTA.

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nterior designer Josh Fein had just left a lunch meeting with his partner and was headed to pick up carpet samples at the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) in Dania Beach, Florida, ahead of presenting to a client, when he had a creative crisis. Their vision wasn’t all it could be; he had to start afresh. “I actually pushed my meeting back an hour and did an aggressive re-shop for my client’s presentation,” he explains. “My business partner could not believe what I got done in one hour.” That’s the benefit of proximity to the DCOTA, a sprawling, 775,000-square-foot, three-building campus. Fein, who was its marketing director from 2011 to 2014, and now co-owns the Miami-based firm Fein Zalkin Interiors, knows the center intimately. Jetting between retailers like Ammon Hickson in the B building to Pierre Frey in the A building (and a few others in between), he was able to quickly reconceive an entire residential design. “It’s almost like a team effort to make sure I leave with as many resources as I possibly can in

a short amount of time,” he said. “I was so invigorated after that pull. And even though I worked my butt off and ran from showroom to showroom, I felt alive again...the day at DCOTA really inspired me, reminded me why I love what I do. And it reminded me how important it was to be in most showrooms.” The DCOTA has been the premier design destination in Dania Beach since it opened in 1985. In 2005 it was acquired by Charles S. Cohen (publisher of Avenue magazine) as a South Florida complement to his D&D Building in Manhattan, the Decorative Center Houston, and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. He launched a $30 million renovation of the campus, including an upgraded restaurant, valet parking, and a revamped atrium. “He definitely has a way of creating a design environment that draws people in. You want to see beautiful things, you want to be surrounded by amenities that are at a certain level,” explains Key Hall, chief executive of Cowtan & Tout, which has had showrooms in the DCOTA for 25 years. JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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will inspect online first, and then contact us for a quote,” explains Mike Kuo, vice president of showrooms at Baker Interiors Group, which has been at the DCOTA since the early ’90s. “But most of them in the end will still come into the showroom to physically experience the product. We offer customized options, and we have great details, great tailoring—those things cannot be experienced or shown online.” Designers seem to agree. “People want at any point in time to be able to touch, feel, sit, look at the product and engage with it in some fashion,” says Fanny Haim, owner of Fanny Haim & Associates. “It is a valuable exercise to take people to actually see the product. Some people really actually only want to buy something once they’ve sat on it.” “I will not do a presentation without touching and feeling it,” agrees Fein. It’s a standard of quality he’s holding on to even as his business con-

tinues to grow. “People forget that we’re in such a visual industry. And I think we jeopardize our designs by not being as hands-on as we could be.” As shoppers’ habits have evolved, so too have the demographics in Florida. At the moment, the state could not be more popular. Over the course of her four-decade career, Haim has observed more new clients calling southern Florida home, drawn there for its light and luxurious aesthetic. “Miami has always been a destination city for out-of-towners,” she says. “Now it’s become not only a second or third home base, but people are actually relocating to Miami. I guess that is pretty much characteristic of the post-pandemic world. “Having been a witness to the birth and permanent reinvention of the Design Center, it’s always a place I feel proud to take my clients because it really has set a standard of elegance,” she adds. “It’s nice to see that we still have that base, for the industry to have a go-to resource.”

DCOTA ATRIUM: COURTESY OF AREA ARCHITECTURE; INTERIOR: COURTESY OF FEIN ZALKIN INTERIORS

“They worked very hard to consolidate and capture much more of an industry experience and made it easier to shop...I always say there’s a reason why Chanel is right next to YSL, and YSL is next to Prada: you need to be next to your competitors. And the best way to capture an audience is to be with the top of the industry. “The natural light is absolutely such a great feature. There’s beautiful skylights,” she adds. “When you’re in Florida, you want to be somewhere that’s cool on the inside, but you don’t want to lose that natural light because it’s so crucial.” Investing in the experience of shopping was strategic. After a generation of consumers migrated online, the pendulum now seems to be swinging back, with more shoppers looking to be wowed— and make purchasing decisions—in person. “Ten, 20 years ago, designers would come into the design center, initiate their project, look for inspirations, things they like. Now most of them

HEART OF GLASS Below, the atrium of the DCOTA, designed by Area Architecture; opposite, a living room designed by Fein Zalkin Interiors, featuring items from DCOTA showrooms, including a rug from Tai Ping, a chandelier from Wired Custom Lighting, and a bench from Ammon Hickson.

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LIVING

WISH YOU WERE HERE

POSTCARDS FROM THE FASHION EDGE BY HORACIO SILVA

ILLUSTRATIONS BY HEATHER POLK

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The weather is great, the shopping is better. Bought a Chanel printed silk crepe top, $2,800; shorts, $2,700; and coat, $9,300; chanel.com 72

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Been enjoying the sights in a Max Mara cashmere and silk dress. $3,690; maxmara.com JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Caught a bit too much sun, saved by a Balenciaga pleated drape dress. $5,950; balenciaga.com 74

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Thinking of you, but mostly about a Christian Dior goddess dress. $10,000; dior.com

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NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY Addison Mizner at his showpiece Cloister Inn, now the Boca Raton Resort and Club.

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Brothers Addison and Wilson Mizner blazed a devil’s triangle between California, New York, and Palm Beach, cutting ethical corners but leaving a legacy of landmark architecture and irreverent wit. Ambrose McGaffney reevaluates the fin de siècle bad boys

T

he term “Gilded Age” was never meant as a compliment. The title of an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner about materialism and corruption in post-Civil War America, the reader was meant to understand the era’s “gilding” as mere artifice and ornament— the opposite of authentic, solid gold. That phrase may be the perfect lens through which to examine the brothers Addison and Wilson Mizner—two contemporaneous scoundrels who delighted in gilding the facts around their own sometimes scurrilous lives. In South Florida, and especially among the blessed islanders of the 33480, Addison, the elder brother, needs no introduction. The self-made architect with a gift for Mediterranean pastiche created a distinctive aesthetic that not only pleased clients during his Palm Beach period— which lasted roughly from 1918 until his death in 1933, aged 60—but also created the set for a mid-century pageant of American aristocracy that would be reproduced around the world by artists like the society photographer Slim Aarons. In his business and personal lives, however, Addison’s record is somewhat messier. There was a failed real estate speculation leading to bankruptcy, as well as some public “relationships” with high-born women (one of whom, the heiress Bertha Dolbeer, committed suicide in 1904 by jumping out a ninth-floor window of the Waldorf-Astoria) which obscured his rather more sincere interest in handsome younger men. “Wilson loved women sexually; Addison cherished their friendship and companionship,” Richard René Silvin wrote in Villa Mizner: The House That Changed Palm Beach, his 2014 study of the architect’s life and selected work. Silvin intuited the bond forged by the colorful lifestyles of Addison and his ne’er-do-well younger brother, whom the architect reportedly referred to as “my chief weakness and dreaded menace.” Wilson Mizner was a Broadway playwright, con man, and all-around hustler. According to biographer Alva Johnston, he “was the No. 1 sport, or man about town, in 1910. He was a glittering object…walked into restaurants wearing a made-to-order silk hat two inches higher than the norm…had the highest collars in the world specially made for him…carried a white-handled, white-shafted cane three or four inches taller than any other known walking stick and wore an Inverness cape thrown back over his shoulders to show its white satin lining.” He was also a gambler and opium addict who nevertheless enjoyed middling success as a writer on the Great White Way and in Hollywood, and

HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY

Palm Readers

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WILSON MIZNER: COURTESY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY; BOCA RATON HOTEL AND CLUB: BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES

CANE AND ABLE The Boca Raton Hotel and Club seen in 1954, on the eve of a $2 million restoration; below right, Wilson Mizner, playwright and rogue.

THEIR STORY INSPIRED BOTH IRVING BERLIN (WHO BEGAN BUT LATER ABANDONED A MUSICAL ABOUT WILSON) AND STEPHEN SONDHEIM.

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CHECK YOUR POCKETS Wilson Mizner looking respectable at the Cloister Inn in Boca Raton.

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contributed various bons mots to the language that are still in currency today. “Be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them on your way down,” for example, is reputed to be his. Also: “If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.” (And even if it isn’t one of his classics, honorary mention must surely go to: “To my embarrassment, I was born in bed with a lady.”) The peculiar, symbiotic relationship between the brothers—two of eight children born to a prosperous family in Benicia, California—has been a subject of esoteric fascination since their death less than two months apart in 1933; Wilson was just 56. Their story inspired both Irving Berlin (who began but later abandoned a musical about Wilson) and Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim’s version opened at the Kennedy Center in 2003 as Bounce, having struggled through earlier iterations under the titles Road Show, Wise Guys, and Gold! The opening number sets the tone of the brothers’ toxic codependence by referencing various grievances and shady dealings. “Just trying to help further your career,” Wilson tells Addison in regard to a (possibly invented) horse-doping scandal. His brother replies: “Well, when you got finished helping, I didn’t have a career!” Alas, the show didn’t help Sondheim’s career either, after the New York Times critic Ben Brantley’s chilly review iced any prospects of it transferring to Broadway. Although the composer took some license in depicting the brothers’ lives, the outline was based in fact. Their father was an American diplomat to Central America, exposing his children to an early dose of exoticism that would inspire both the architect’s and the writer’s later work. In 1897, Addison, Wilson, and two other brothers participated in Canada’s Klondike gold rush—although in Wilson’s case it was as a petty crook, rather than a miner. Given Wilson’s lax relationship with the truth, it’s hard to verify his next stops, but they may have included running a saloon in Nome, Alaska; living on a banana plantation in Honduras; and gambling professionally in San Francisco, before donning his silk top hat and cane and coming to New York. In parallel, brother Addison also invented or embellished various exploits on his own résumé, including claiming to have planned the town of Dawson Creek, British Columbia; receiving a commission to build a palace for the dictator of Guatemala in return for $25,000 in gold bullion; and attending the prestigious University of Salamanca in Spain, during which stay he

BAIN NEWS SERVICE/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

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HAT’S ENTERTAINMENT The original Brown Derby restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, opened by Wilson in 1926.

“TO MY EMBARRASSMENT, I WAS BORN IN BED WITH A LADY.” PICTORIAL PRESS LTD/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

WILSON MIZNER

received a personal visit from the country’s king, Alfonso XIII, who inexplicably wanted to give him some wood paneling. (Addison had a habit of ascribing grand European provenance to architectural details in his Palm Beach homes that were in fact manufactured by Florida workshops.) A large-scale 1926 real estate development in Boca Raton—for which Wilson served as treasurer—resulted in Addison’s personal bankruptcy and losses for investors. Wilson hightailed it to Hollywood, where he wrote screenplays for Warner Bros. and opened the iconic Brown Derby on Wilshire Boulevard, which became a fashionable film industry watering hole. Sondheim’s Bounce opens just after these events, with the two brothers, both newly deceased, meeting in the great hereafter. “You don’t suppose this really is heaven,” Wilson asks incredulously. “If guys like you get to go to heaven, Willie, who has to go to hell?” Addison replies. Wilson considers this for a moment and responds, “Point taken.” JANUARY—FEBRUARY 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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ON THE

Jessica Markowski

CARDINALS FACE THE ROYALS

Margarita Babina

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Mercedes de Guardiola, HSH Prince Charles-Henri de Lobkowicz, and Justin Morin-Carpentier

PHOTOS BY BFA

The White Cross Ball of New York City brought together a prince, two archbishops, and a heavenly host of socials at the Metropolitan Club.

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HE Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Anna Zayachkivska

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

Julia Kanovich

Eline Van Eldere and Robert Sweeney

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Francesca Vuillemin

2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE Lizzie AsherSPRING and Casey Kohlberg

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Gala honorees Pierre-André de Chalendar and Marc Levy; outgoing FIAF president Marie-Monique Steckel; Contessa Brewer; Clo Cohen and Charles S. Cohen

Vanessa and Philippe Delgrange

FRENCH EXIT

Alexandre Assouline (right)

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Lanessa Elrod

Shinuna Karume Robert and Jeremie Robert

PHOTOS BY BFA

The FIAF Gala honored its outgoing president, Marie-Monique Steckel, as well as Marc Levy and Pierre-André de Chalendar.

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Beanie Feldstein and Bonnie Chance Roberts

Amanda Seyfried and Celine Rattray

DINNER AND A MOVIE

The Cinema Society held premieres for A Mouthful of Air and The Humans. Separately, the Prostate Cancer Foundation held its 25th annual New York dinner at the Plaza Hotel.

CINEMA SOCIETY: BFA; PROSTATE CANCER FOUNDATION: PATRICK MCMULLAN

Steven Yeun

First First Lastname Arte Lastname and Caroleand Moreno

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Lori and Mike Milken

John Paulson

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Tony Bechara and Desiree La Valette

Stavros Niarchos, Dasha Zhukova, and Bronson van Wyck

TARGET ACQUIRED

The Metropolitan Museum of Art held its 2021 Acquisitions Gala with dinner and music on Fifth Avenue.

Antwaun Sargent, Lorna Simpson, and Jeremy O. Harris

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Charlotte Santo Domingo and Aerin Lauder

PHOTOS BY BFA

Thelma Golden and Ann Tenenbaum

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John Carpenter and Mary Wallach

Susan Fales-Hill, Andrew Solomon, and Amy Fine Collins

Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder

Tory Burch, Jessica Seinfeld, and Amy Griffin

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SPRING 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE Titus Kaphar and John Holiday

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John Rosenwald and Daisy Soros

Adolfo Zaralegui, Pamela Patsley, Mary-Randolph Ballinger, and James Borynack

AMERICANS IN PARADISE

The Society of the Four Arts and Findlay Galleries held a dinner honoring major donors of its upcoming Americans in Paris Dinner Dance fundraiser.

John and Giuliana Koch

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Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and Gilbert C. Maurer

Carole Moran and Beatrice Guthrie

PHOTOS BY CAPEHART PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF THE SOCIETY OF THE FOUR ARTS

Ann Fromer and Sondra Mack

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Jun Ge

Gillian Hearst, Ariana Rockefeller, Georgina Bloomberg, and Lili Buffett

SNOW BALL

The New York Botanical Garden held its annual Winter Wonderland Ball in support of the Children’s Education Program.

PHOTOS BY BFA

Sylvester and Gillian Miniter

First and First Lastname Igee Lastname Okafor

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Ezra J. William and Tina Leung

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SOCIAL SKILLS

Thank-You Nots Sick of sending thank-you notes after having a crummy time? Satirist Posey Wilt is launching a new line of printed greeting cards for when you just can’t fake gratitude

Dinner last night was an absolute chore Your dogs are annoying and your husband’s a bore The food was disgusting, in need of a fix Which you’d know if you’d eaten since 2006.

Last night at the opera, we were guests in your box You talked through the acts like you were home watching Fox Tell me again what you love about Verdi? It’s so hard to tell, since you fell asleep at 9:30.

What can I say about yesterday’s lunch? Your jewelry was stunning, and it is my hunch That you pack it on thicker than tropical rain

They say first time for love, second for money Even though this is your fourth husband, true Nobody’s had more second marriages than you.

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CAMPWILLOWLAKE/ISTOCK

Congrats on your wedding! And isn’t it funny

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

Because your diamonds are dazzling, unlike your brain.

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SCAN FOR FULL LISTING

Cedar Point: A Unique Pre-Construction Opportunity Gary R. DePersia Licensed A s sociate Real Es t ate Broker m 516.380.0538 | gdp@corcor an.com

Sag Harbor. To turn your dreams into reality, all your resources, efforts and concentration should be aligned in the same direction. For one fortunate buyer this alignment has been achieved by the collaboration between Todd O’Connell, architect, Long Island Building Systems, and interiors by Habitech Planning & Design who have come together to create what will be a masterful 6,000 SF shingled traditional on three levels of living space with pool and tennis set within 1.6 acres on a quiet country lane, ending on the Peconic Bay. A private graveled driveway ringed in Belgian block will welcome all to this 6 bedroom country retreat that will offer the epitome of Hampton chic including great room with fireplace, dining room, gourmet eat in kitchen bolstered by a large pantry, study and a luxurious first floor master suite offering a spa like bath. A guest suite, laundry room, powder room and a 3 - car garage complete the first floor. Upstairs three additional bedroom suites await while more than 600 SF of unfinished space above the garage present numerous possibilities including additional bedrooms if needed. The finished lower level offers bedroom, full bath, recreational room and significant space for future build out. Outside both covered and uncovered patios look out to the 20’ X 40’ heated Gunite pool with spa serviced by its own bathroom as well as the all-weather tennis court set within a a generous lawn, all framed by mature trees sheltering the property from its neighbors. An ingenious plan to be sure but if your vision requires something different you have ample opportunity at this juncture to customize the house and property to your needs. In fact you could purchase the land and create something of your own with the parameters of the current permitting. With the villages of Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and Water Mill nearby, this singular opportunity will put you in the middle of all the action that makes the Hamptons a world class year round destination. Exclusive. $4.795M WEB# 883282 Real estate agents affiliated with The Corcoran Group are independent contractors and are not employees of The Corcoran Group. Equal Housing Opportunity. The Corcoran Group is a licensed real estate broker located at 660 Madison Ave, N Y, N Y 10065. All listing phone numbers indicate listing agent direct line unless otherwise noted. All information furnished regarding property for sale or rent or regarding financing is from sources deemed reliable, but Corcoran makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy thereof. All property information is presented subject to errors, omissions, price changes, changed property conditions, and withdrawal of the property from the market, without notice. All dimensions provided are approximate. To obtain exact dimensions, Corcoran advises you to hire a qualified architect or engineer.

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MARGARET ROLEKE a solo exhibition

Opens January 5th - 29th opening reception january 7th 2022

190 main st. westport, CT 06880

for private viewings 203-557-0223 westport@thecampgallery.com Camp Gallery AD 010222.indd 4

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