AVENUE March | April 2022

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AMANDA HEARST À la mode


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CONTENTS MARCH–APRIL 2022 VOL.45 NO.2

FEATURES 38

YOUNG HEARST RUN FREE

Heiress and Palm Beach regular Amanda Hearst Rønning speaks— but sadly declines to gossip— with Bob Morris. 46

UPTOWN GRILL

A new book by Robin Baker Leacock and Mary Hilliard pays tribute to Mortimer’s, the go-to bistro for a generation of Upper East Siders. 52

THE ART OF DARKNESS

Joshua David Stein searches for deeper meaning at Blancaneaux, Francis Ford Coppola’s luxury resort in Belize. 60

ITALIAN SEASONING

La dolce vita at the Tuscan country estate, Arniano. By Amber Guinness. 66

UNACCOMPANIED MINOR

Christina Oxenberg on growing up in fabulous locations among European and Hollywood royalty, but alone. 74 QUEEN OF HEARST Amanda Hearst Rønning photographed for Avenue by Andrew Macpherson in Los Angeles.

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DOWN BY THE OCEAN

In 1975, the Rolling Stones invaded Montauk for five surreal weeks. From our archives, by Christopher Lawrence.

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VERNISSAGE

Avenue’s insider preview of all that’s new and noteworthy: the life of a concierge junkie, a Basquiat exhibit, birthing suites in Palm Beach, and what “Baby” Jane Holzer is up to these days.

AL FRESCO A portal to Arniano, a Guinness family estate in Tuscany.

BY KITTY BIXBY, HORACIO SILVA, AND BEN WIDDICOMBE

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BUY CURIOUS

CULTURE

This season’s best looks hit a nautical note. BY HORACIO SILVA

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COMFORT ZONES

JOLLY GOOD FELLOWES

British screenwriter Julian Fellowes, creator of the HBO delight The Gilded Age and the forthcoming Downton Abbey movie, talks about American money, British class, and what makes him cry. BY TOM SHONE

Avenue’s restaurant critic likes his Milanese crispy, his beans creamy, and his noodles cheesy. BY JOSHUA DAVID STEIN

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OUDH THAT AND A BUDDHA SCHIST

Soigné Paris Singer was instrumental in the development of Palm Beach, but the sewing-machine heir dropped more than a few stitches along the way. BY AMBROSE MCGAFFNEY

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ON THE AVE.

Scenes from New York Fashion Week, Palm Beach soirées, and more. 88

SOCIAL SKILLS

Your YOLO is someone else’s FOMO, but it doesn’t happen by itself. Here, a field guide to spring break competitive Instagramming.

Masterpieces of Asian art take center stage on Madison Avenue, and notto-miss gallery shows in New York and Palm Beach.

BY TARA ROSENBLUM

BY ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

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NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

BOOK REVIEWS Four books that travel through time, memory, and remarkable landscapes.

REVIEWED BY CLAIRE GIBSON, CELIA MCGEE, CONSTANCE C.R. WHITE, AND MARK LIBATIQUE YARNS AND NOBLE Downton Abbey and The Gilded Age creator Julian Fellowes. COVER: Illustration by Cecilia Carlstedt 8

Visit our website at avenuemagazine.com

FELLOWES: ALISON COHEN ROSA/HBO; TUSCANY: © ROBYN LEA, FROM A HOUSE PARTY IN TUSCANY BY AMBER GUINNESS, COURTESY OF THAMES & HUDSON

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F I N D L AY GA L L E R I E S

THREE CENTURIES IN ART

P A L M

B E A C H

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Journeys

he past two years have felt like quite a journey, even if some people didn’t stray far from home. But this year, finally, we can drop the euphemisms and embrace travel for its literal joys—returning to friends, family, and fabulous, faraway places. In this issue, Joshua David Stein visits a luxury resort in Belize, and discovers something unexpected in himself. Globe-trotting Amanda Hearst sat for our photographer in Los Angeles, and spoke to our journalist from London, about life in (among other places) New York and Palm Beach. And Christina Oxenberg shares a travelogue from her peripatetic youth that should have been (but wasn’t) every child’s dream: bouncing between her grandmother Princess Olga’s grand Paris apartment, visiting royal cousins in the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, attending boarding school in Oxford, and hanging out with her mother’s fiancé, Richard Burton, in Verbier. We also visit the magical Tuscan retreat of Amber Guinness, and closer to home, relive the heyday of Mortimer’s, the Upper East Side bistro that served Bill Blass’s own recipe for meatloaf to a generation of the city’s most interesting people. Would you like to have a chat with Lord Julian Fellowes, writer of HBO’s The Gilded Age and the upcoming Downton Abbey film? Simply turn the page. Also, whatever happened to “Baby” Jane Holzer, the Palm Beach native turned Warhol superstar? We also catch up with her—as well as much more. My own journey also renews this spring, as after two years I am finally able to reconnect in person with family in my native Australia. So from our next issue, dedicated to "well-being," a new editor will be signing this letter. I have cherished my last two years at the helm of Avenue, and especially creating this issue—I hope you have as much fun reading it as we had putting it together.

BEN WIDDICOMBE

Editor-in-Chief 10

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ISTOCK

Warmly,

Like and follow us at @AVENUEinsider

AVENUE MAGAZINE | MARCH—APRIL 2022

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ben Widdicombe CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Courtney Gooch DEPUTY & MANAGING EDITOR

JOSHUA DAVID STEIN (The Art of Darkness, page 22) is Avenue’s restaurant critic and the author of Cooking for Your Kids; The Nom Wah Cookbook, with Wilson Tang; and Il Buco: Stories & Recipes, with Donna Lennard. In this issue he writes about staying at Blancaneaux Lodge, Francis Ford Coppola’s Caribbean retreat: “Among the many wonderful parts of writing the Belize feature was the opportunity to use the dad joke ‘Don’t stop Belizen’ multiple times.” He lives with his two sons and a dog in Kensington, “a part of Brooklyn so far out,” he says, “it sounds like England.”

Angela M.H. Schuster EDITOR-AT-LARGE

Heather Hodson PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR

Catherine G. Talese PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Jessica Lee STYLE EDITOR

Horacio Silva

TOM SHONE (Jolly Good Fellowes, page 26) graduated from Oxford in the late ’80s, and after a decade working at The Sunday Times moved to New York to join Tina Brown’s Talk. Now film critic of The Sunday Times, he has written six books and had work published in The New Yorker, Vogue, and the New York Times, among other publications. For this issue, Shone interviewed the screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey and The Gilded Age, Julian Fellowes. “I was thrilled to talk to Julian about his late-flowering success as a screenwriter,” he says. “He was a disarmingly sweet and tender-hearted fellow, more ‘hearton-his-sleeve’ than ‘stiff-upper-lip.’” Shone lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their daughter and is collaborating on a book with the British film director Paul Greengrass. ANDREW MACPHERSON (Young Hearst Run Free, page 38) was born in London and left school at the age of 15 to pursue a career in photography. He worked with such photographic maestros as Lord Snowdon, Horst P. Horst, and Fabrizio Gianni, and shot for The Face, i-D, Vogue Italia, Rolling Stone, and The Sunday Times, among other publications. In 1991 he left England for New York, moving to Los Angeles in 1994, where he has lived ever since. For this issue, Macpherson photographed Amanda Hearst. “I loved shooting Amanda; she has such an easy and natural grace in front of the camera,” he says. “It was also really fun to discover that we share the same birthday.” 12

Celia McGee DIGITAL FASHION EDITOR

Aria Darcella DEPUTY PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Daniela G. Maldonado CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Constance C.R. White, Joshua David Stein, Tom Shone, Judd Tully, 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

MEMBER OF ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA

PUBLISHER

Spencer Sharp COHEN MEDIA PUBLICATIONS LLC CHAIRMAN

Charles S. Cohen

JOSHUA DAVID STEIN BY CELESTE SLOMAN; CHRISTINA OXENBERG: RICHARD CAVE/ALAMY LIVE NEWS; TOM SHONE BY KATE SHONE; ANDREW MACPHERSON COURTESY OF ANDREW MACPHERSON

LITERARY EDITOR

CHRISTINA OXENBERG (Unaccompanied Minor, page 66) is the acclaimed author of several books of humor, memoir, and fiction, including Royal Blue and Dynasty. She first made her name with Taxi, a 1986 collection of New York cab observations and anecdotes from an eclectic list of notables, including Andy Warhol, Arthur Schlesinger, Bill Blass, George Hamilton, and Claus von Bülow (who boasted that starstruck drivers treated him “like Greta Garbo.”) Her most recent book is Trash: Encounters with Ghislaine Maxwell.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | MARCH—APRIL 2022

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VERNISSAGE

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Guilty Treasures

Illustrations by Sandra K. Peña

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M

y life as a concierge junkie began innocently enough 12 years ago, following a banner year on Wall Street. Today we are in a concierge boom, when every hedge funder and private equity type is a member of one bespoke “lifestyle service” or another. But back then the idea of paying six figures for an annual membership to elevate one’s leisure activities was novel. So I joined not just one, but two different services to help plan a family vacation. Within days it was clear that the world is different for the concierged. All of a sudden, people, places, and things that would ordinarily have eluded me became accessible. I would dream up some once-in-a-lifetime experience, call the concierge, and then sit back and watch it materialize. First it was backstage passes to a sold-out Bryan Ferry concert, followed by an introduction to the singer himself. Next came lunch with a celebrity chef, and dinner at an impossible-to-book restaurant. Then I took it up a notch. Our family flew to Uruguay, where we stayed at the most glamorous beach retreat in South America, sipping cocktails by the infinity pool amid installations by James Turrell, Zaha Hadid, and Anselm Kiefer. In Patagonia we bobbed about on a boat while observing a colony of rare penguins, an expedition inaccessible to mortal tourists. It was only back on shore that we figured out that our companions were a Fortune 500 chief executive and his family, and the stocky man in military issue boots (who checked under the cars each night for bombs) was his bodyguard. When you are in the concierge club—endangered penguins be warned—this is how you roll. I was ruinously blowing through money, but living in concierge Technicolor makes it hard to return to travel agent gray. By the summer of 2012, when my addiction was out of control, we took the family to the London Olympic Games. My English friend, along with the rest of the British public, sat at a computer for hours each night, hitting the refresh button on the Olympic Games website, in hopes of scoring a ticket. As the games rolled on, the rarest ticket of all became access to the men’s tennis final between Britain’s Andy Murray and Swiss superstar Roger Federer.

Our tennis-obsessed son begged and pleaded, so I grimaced at the expected cost, but called the concierge anyway. “A pair of tickets to the men’s singles final? Consider it done.” (To this day, the word “concierge” can bring tempers to the boil in my friend’s house.) For the price of a small car, we purchased two tickets to the 12 p.m. final. That morning, we set off to the concierge’s London outpost, but when we arrived, something was amiss. The manager was very sorry, but the tickets no longer existed. Our son’s face fell; his lip wobbled; the concierge looked pained. He bustled off to make a call. Minutes passed. The clock ticked toward midday. More waiting, then a sudden flurry of activity, and the concierge rushed us into a black cab, saying mysteriously, “The passenger waiting inside will take you to the tickets.” It all felt slightly ominous, like a Cold War spy thriller. Behind the Access All Areas lifestyle of the concierge member is a phalanx of smart professionals in tailored suits—and behind them are the fixers, who have legions of VIPs on speed dial. Our taxi companion, firmly in the latter category, greeted us with the words “I heard a child was involved, and I don’t like to disappoint children.” The cab driver took off at speed, our companion talking rapidly about World Series and Super Bowl tickets, and partying with the NBA players who were in town for the Games.

ALL OF A SUDDEN, PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS THAT WOULD ORDINARILY HAVE ELUDED ME BECAME ACCESSIBLE.

Finally we screeched to a halt in front of a dingy pub full of sports fans and cigarette smoke; our man leaped out, disappeared into the fog, and reemerged one minute later flourishing an envelope with the golden tickets—just in time to make the final. How did it all happen? Best not dwell on that, or certain other matters (such as the 2016 scandal when International Olympic Committee members were busted selling tickets illegally.) Suffice to say my son and I enjoyed that momentous day in British Olympic history from some of the best seats on center court. What I learned then and know now is: nothing succeeds like access. —Kitty Bixby MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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VERNISSAGE

All Hail the King

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ean-Michel Basquiat’s legacy has been pulled in all directions since his death from a heroin overdose in 1988 at just 27. He reigns as the unimpeachable avatar of downtown cool, and a cautionary symbol of the voracious art market—an eternally young cipher trotted out by the fashion and culture industries, from Uniqlo to Gagosian. His story has been told by everyone, it appears, except for those who were closest to him. Until now. Opening at the Starrett-Lehigh Building on April 9, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure,” a comprehensive exhibition of more than 200 previously unseen or rarely shown works, is the first exhibit of its kind to be presented by his family. “This is a way for us to collaborate as a community and fill in the spaces from all of our perspectives on Jean-Michel and his impact on the world,” says the artist’s sister Lisane Basquiat, who has curated the exhibition with her younger sibling, Jeanine Heriveaux, and their stepmother, Nora Fitzpatrick. “It’s a gift to our family and others that they can look at this personal account of who he was.” Adds Jeanine, “There have been many exhibitions of Jean-Michel’s work, but never told from our perspective—Jean-Michel as a child, a man, a son, and a brother. We wanted to bring his work and personality forward, in a way only we can, for people to immerse themselves in. We want this to be an experiential and multidimensional celebration of Jean-Michel’s life." Spanning 12,000 square feet and designed by Sir David Adjaye, the award-winning architect behind the National Museum of African-American History in D.C., “King Pleasure”—the title refers to one of his paintings, which was named for a bartender turned underground bebop legend whom Basquiat’s father, Gerard, was fond of— consists of several themed rooms, including a re-creation of the artist’s Great Jones Street studio (rented to him by Andy Warhol) and the VIP room of the former Palladium nightclub. In addition to Basquiat’s paintings and drawings, there will be live performance, dances, and fashion shows, as well as educational programs. The objects and ephemera interspersed throughout the show not only illustrate his artistic efforts and influences, from Black American sports figures to literature, but also his unflagging interest in social justice, politics, and class. “Jean-Michel stands at the forefront of really strong people who are committed to showing up in the world in a specific way,” says Lisane. “And that runs through our bloodline. Now our children know what can happen when you live your truth, when you stand up for what’s right for you and exert a work ethic, passion, and commitment to why you believe you’re here.” Jeanine puts it more succinctly. “I think the title sums him up perfectly,” she says. “Jean-Michel was a king.” —horacio silva

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This Happened to Baby Jane

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Prints Charming

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illy Pulitzer was famously inspired to create her signature dress prints while tending her family’s Palm Beach orange juice stand—the vibrant florals being perfect for obscuring spills. From there it wasn’t a giant leap to apply the colorful patterns to other areas of life whose inherent messiness might benefit from a bit of cheerful camouflage, like table linens and a recent teenagers’ bedding range for Pottery Barn. But the genius who realized the same principle could also be applied to childbirth? Give that person a Pulitzer Prize! Last spring, the Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach began offering two “Lilly Pulitzer Birthing Suites” at $750 a night. They not only boast luxury features that you might associate with The Breakers or the Colony Hotel more than a hospital (concierge service! VIP menu! waterfront views!), but also come replete with swag. In addition to their postpartum bundle of joy, new moms get to take home a diaper bag containing a teddy bear, some newborn pajamas, a fleece blanket, and other accessories, all in one of Pulitzer’s distinctive prints. Take it into the Lilly store on Worth Avenue, and they’ll even monogram it with initials. (The diaper bag that is, not the baby.) The suites have already served several dozen families and are booked seven months ahead, according to Naomi Seymour, the center’s associate chief nursing officer. “And the reservations keep coming in,” she said. One recent happy customer is Brianna Potter, who recently welcomed her daughter, Rose— slightly less than two years after firstborn William arrived in the same (pre-Lillified) room. “I enjoyed the space so much but after seeing the renovation, they completely brightened it,” she told Avenue. “It's such a cheerful, happy place to be, surrounded by all the colors, and the room has such nice light. “I don’t want to call it a vacation, but it felt more similar to a hotel experience than a hospital experience,” she continued. “For example, I love drinking coconut water, and they would be sure to have fresh coconut water in my room every

“NOT ONLY GIVING BIRTH, BUT THE MONTHS THEREAFTER THERE ARE SOME PRETTY MESSY SPILLS …IT CERTAINLY COMES IN HANDY TO HAVE A BUSY PRINT.” BRIANNA POTTER

day. And the second thing is the menu—I was expecting Uber Eats or something like that, but I ate grilled vegetables and lobster for dinner every night. I don’t know any other hospitals where you get to have that experience.” Although the average birthing suite stay is two nights, Potter managed to hang on a week. Her husband enjoyed the lamb. Good Samaritan’s innovation has been so successful that it’s tempting to wonder what other untidy elements of Palm Beach life might be improved by a Lilly Pulitzer makeover—parking tickets, defib paddles, divorce papers? Alas, for now it’s only the birthing suites. Potter said she already had some Lilly in her closet before staying in the suites, but has bought a lot more since. Not only is there a strong emotional connection, given Rose’s first pictures are all in the Pulitzer pattern, but also you can’t beat that practicality. “Not only giving birth, but the months thereafter there are some pretty messy spills that get on your clothes,” she said. “And so it certainly comes in handy to have a busy print.” —Ben Widdicombe

ane Holzer has played many roles. A former model turned Warhol superstar turned contemporary art collector and movie producer, Holzer is also a major commercial property owner in Palm Beach, including the city’s hottest restaurant, Le Bilboquet, of which she is also a partner with Philippe Delgrange. But on a recent Saturday she was happy to play the part of doting meemaw and rave about her granddaughter, Emma Holzer, an aspiring actress, and couture-wearing It Girl. “She’s going to be a big star,” Holzer insists— adding that so is Emma’s brother, Harrison. “Look him up. Supercute, super talented.” Holzer, now 81, sounds as elegantly assured as one can while eating a boiled egg and appears remarkably chipper for someone who had Covid just a few days ago. In the early 1960s, the native Palm Beacher was nicknamed “Baby Jane” Holzer by a newspaper columnist riffing on a popular film of the era— she didn’t care for it initially, but it stuck. Today, she is sitting in the Ocean Boulevard home of her son Charles “Rusty” Holzer and his wife, Ashley, she explains, because her new, $8 million property across the street gives her allergies. So, it sits empty, awaiting renovation and a good clean. Covid means she has had to cancel a few commitments, including a speaking engagement in Australia, but mostly she remains as busy as ever. One of her big current projects is 247 Worth Avenue, a fashion and art destination building that also houses Brioni and Loro Piana, as well as two buzzy popups for Lehmann Maupin and Christie’s. “I’m not attending many art fairs these days,” explains the perennially black-clad collector, who has recently been turning her attention to KAWS, in addition to extending her formidable pop art collection, “but there’s always something to keep me in trouble.” “She reigns supreme around here,” says Nick Hissom, a 29-year-old co-owner of Aktion Art, who became friends with Holzer via her granddaughter Emma. “You have dinner with her at Bilboquet or the Colony Hotel and half the restaurant will approach her during the course of the night.” Just don’t expect Holzer, who was the subject of “To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol’s First Superstar,” the 2014 exhibition at the Norton Museum of Art, to make an appearance in Ryan Murphy’s coming Netflix documentary about Andy Warhol. “I wouldn't talk to that man,” she fires back, when asked if the megaproducer has been in touch. “Did you see the Netflix thing he did on Halston? It was all about fucking. It was so nasty. There will only ever be one Halston, okay? I don't need to see, you know, Ryan Murphy's take on Warhol.” —horacio silva MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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BUY CURIOUS Hermès embroidered hat. $1,225; hermes.com

Smooth Sailing

BY HORACIO SILVA

Alexander McQueen dress. $6,500; alexandermcqueen.com

Vintage moonstone and pavé diamond yacht brooch, ca. 1920. $32,000; alvr.com

Louis Vuitton “Bella” tote. $4,650; louisvuitton.com

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Chanel earrings. $625; chanel.com

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello brass chain necklace with rock crystal. $2,190; ysl.com

Van Cleef & Arpels “Two Butterfly” ring with diamonds and turquoise set in 18K yellow and white gold. Price on request; vancleefarpels.com Fendi multicolored leather FF logo with Antonio Lopez print handbag. $4,600; fendi.com

Prada slingback pumps. $1,150; prada.com

MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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BUY CURIOUS

Celine acetate sunglasses. $520; celine.com

Into the Blue

Hermès “Chypre” men’s sandals. $660; hermes.com

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello brass crossflower brooch. $550; ysl.com

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Alexander McQueen jacket. $2,990; alexandermcqueen.com

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Prada mini shoulder bag. $895; prada.com

Brunello Cucinelli suede jacket. $6,495; shop.brunellocucinelli.com

JW Anderson printed linen shirt. $785; mrporter.com

Santos de Cartier 18k rose gold watch with interchangeable steel and leather bracelets. $35,700; cartier.com

MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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VERNISSAGE

Comfort Zones Vegan, schmegan: restaurant critic Joshua David Stein likes his Milanese crispy, his beans creamy, and his noodles cheesy

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he word “restaurant” comes from the same root as the word “restorative.” When it’s cold, restaurants warm you. When it’s hot, they cool you. When you’re hungry, they feed you. If you’re in a tizzy, a restaurant calms; if you need some excitement, it can titillate. As much as I’m for restaurants as portals into the unknown and unfamiliar corners of far-off cuisine, I am also sensible to the pleasure of being fed that which you already know you desire. Not every concerto is a Schoenberg. Sometimes it’s a Bach. Sometimes it’s a Bacharach. Not every meal, in other words, need be an exploration. Perhaps sensing this communal need for restoration, many ambitious New York restaurateurs have of late opened new venues devoted to that once derided genre: comfort food. Sometimes, goddammit, you want a plate of beans to console you in a world gone off the rails.

EVAN SUNG/COURTESY HANCOCK ST.

BOX SEATS Outdoor dining at Hancock St.

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GIADA PAOLONI/COURTESY CI SIAMO

plate of beans, more properly shelling beans, is exactly what Hillary Sterling offers at Ci Siamo, a vast restaurant in Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s Far West Side playground. Like chefs Ari Bokovza at Dagon and Bryce Shuman at Sweetbriar, Sterling is a child of Prometheus, cooking before an open fire. Flame, in its myriad forms and uses, dominates the restaurant. Terra-cotta tiles and glass—both products of flame—glow golden in the soft light. And of course the hearth blazes from a large open kitchen. The contrast between the cold angles and glass panels of Hudson Yards with the Hestian warmth of an Italian home could not be more pronounced.

Sterling’s similarly sterling menu hits the deep profondo notes of home cooking. She vervily swerves into charm; delights in caramelization while leaning into herbs to bring levity. Those beans, those divine beans, are a mixture of large scarlet runner and Tarbais, a few navy, a couple flageolets plus some other (even more) arcane legumes, cooked slowly in cheese rinds, finished with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and sage. Their journey from the hearth wends between tables of well-kempt diners, borne by handsome messengers in starched white jackets, past men in quilted Loro Piana vests and women with Sally Hershberger highlights. They are delivered onto the table at such a gentle slope they verily slide across the burled wood like an air hockey discus.

STAND THE HEAT Above: Chef Hillary Sterling in her Ci Siamo kitchen; right: the sublime pork Milanese. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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FISH AND NIPS The woodfired trout and a martini at Ci Siamo. 24

Have I had beans before? You bet I have. Have I had beans this creamy and so flavorful? Not bloody likely. To me, that’s the singular achievement here at Ci Siamo. A meal here is like running into old friends who have done very well for themselves, except without the attendant feelings of jealousy. One could fill a billion brooks with the woodfired stuffed whole trout that have swum across New York menus of late, but I have yet to find one stuffed so expertly, to the gills as they say, with delicate pine nuts, raisins, and very bracing mustard greens. Skin crisp, flesh tender, the trout has had a serious glow-up. The same could be said for the pork Milanese, which others might call schnitzel or perhaps just fried pork, except this is mondo Milanese, with the pork pounded so thin it sits tectonically on its platter. Though impossibly svelte under its winter coat of bread crumbs, the meat retains both its flavor and its succulence. The apotheosis of Ci Siamo’s feel-good amici is probably the onion torta, described by our waiter as “kinda just like the top of french onion soup.” Though not purple in prose, he was correct. And as we all know, that is the best part of french onion soup, just as muffin tops are the best part of muffins and summits the best part of mountains. Long-caramelized cipollini onions are roasted and braised, then piled on pecorino piecrusts and topped with balsamic and thyme. Hot damn.

GIADA PAOLONI/COURTESY CI SIAMO

Have I had beans before? You bet I have. Have I had beans this creamy and so flavorful? Not bloody likely.

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SHORT RIB: DAVID JACOBSON; PASTA: EVAN SUNG/COURTESY HANCOCK ST.

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JUST PLEASED TO SEE YOU Right: Short rib with sautéed broccolini, charred onions, horseradish cream, and Montreal spices at Hancock St.; below: lumache pasta shells with two-year-aged Parmesan.

ut after one has been succored, it’s back into the windswept Mad Max expanse of Hudson Yards. There is no salve for the juxtaposition; not even the lingering flavor of dark chocolate and blood orange sorbetto can save the shock. If that transition is too abrupt a change, might I suggest Hancock St., found on a quaint corner of the West Village. (For those with an institutional memory, the space was once El Toro Blanco and before that Leyla Marchetto’s Scuderia, the last gasp of the Marchetto clan who once ruled the block.). This particular stretch of Sixth Avenue has wide sidewalks and thus is perfect for boulevardiers, flaneurs, and those who regard visits to restaurants as people watching with snacks. But as I squeeze through the crowd, with their scarves and tans and rings and hats and pets and bags and all the accoutrements of what it means to be bobo in SoHo in 2022, my eyes naturally turn to the tables, where there is more delight to be had. John McDonald, the man behind the restaurant, has been feeding this cohort for ages. At places like Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company, and Bistrot Leo, he’s perfected an approach to food that is as a consigliere to a prince: gentle, supportive, and deferential. But, like a consigliere’s

advice, the offerings are skillfully wrought and delivered. Veal schnitzel—Sterling might call it Milanese—is basically an edible pat on the back with enough lemon-caper brown butter to sop up with a side of fresh sourdough. Salads burst forth in pastel glory, including a Gem lettuce and avocado offering, which combines two salad trends. Beef tartare benefits from a splash of colatura vinaigrette—a Sicilian fish sauce—and a silky spicy tofu sauce.

The pièce de résistance at Hancock St. is the braised short rib, whose bone extends skyward like a Calatrava cantilever.

But the pièce de résistance at Hancock St. is the braised short rib, whose bone extends skyward like a Calatrava cantilever. Braised for 12 hours with Montreal spices, the meat falls from the bone with a sigh. In fact, everything here

seems calculated for minimal effort. One of the most popular pastas I see is called the Adult Kid’s Pasta, consisting of lumache (snail) shells, twoyear-aged Parmesan, and butter. On the one hand, I tried it and was immediately transported to my childhood. Or, should I say, I was immediately transported to an idealized version of my childhood in which my mother made extraordinarily good artisanally extruded pasta with just the right angularity of Parmesan and a generous portion of house cultured butter. On the other hand, this is also perhaps the danger of comfort food, no matter how well wrought it is: that it makes children of us all. Yet, even I, gimlet of eye and long of tooth, can only hold out so long before I slip, like a lotus-eater, into the lap of pleasure and fork another cheesy noodle into my mouth. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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MEL MELCON/LOS ANGELES TIMES/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES

British author, actor, and screenwriter Julian Fellowes has a sumptuous HBO delight with The Gilded Age and another Downton Abbey movie on the way. He talks to Tom Shone about British class, American wealth, finding success late in life, and why (almost) everything makes him cry

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

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Jolly Good Fellowes

PEER REVIEW Downton Abbey and The Gilded Age writer and creator Julian Fellowes photographed in Los Angeles.

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here’s a scene in the fourth episode of Julian Fellowes’s latest period drama, The Gilded Age, in which Bannister (Simon Jones), the English butler serving in the old-money household of Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski), guides the American butler, Church (Jack Gilpin), through the correct cutlery placement at dinner. “I would not lay the fruit knife and fork, they arrive with the fruit plate,” says Bannister, sniffily, before spotting some colored wineglasses. “How festive!” he remarks. “We set them in a square, the English way, not in a line…I wonder they don’t find themselves drinking their neighbor’s wine! But of course, there’s no right or wrong about these things…” The scene epitomizes the central clash in the handsome HBO series, set in the New York high society that emerged after the Civil War, when old money and new fortunes forged in the railroad, oil, and copper industries did battle over the correct placement of a dinner fork. “This wasn’t a pale pastiche of being European posh, it was an entirely new, completely vigorous way of being rich in the American way,” says Fellowes, Zooming from the billiard room of his 1633 manor house in Dorchester in the southwest of England. It was bought with the proceeds from Gosford Park, the 2001 Robert Altman movie that won Fellowes a screenwriting Academy Award, at age 52, after laboring for decades as a character actor whose biggest feather was playing Lord Kilwillie in the BBC Highland drama Monarch of the Glen. Fellowes has been successful in both the English and the American way, which was perhaps unexpected, given that few could have predicted in the era of Occupy Wall Street and concern about the one percent that we would all sit glued to Fellowes’s Downton Abbey for six seasons. Fellowes well remembers the note that came out of the office of Alan Yentob, then head of BBC Drama, Entertainment and Children’s programming, when he wrote the 1995 television adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy, which read, “the audience for class-based period drama is dead.” “I lived through an era in the late ’60s and ’70s when people used to pretend that class didn’t exist anymore and that it was all over,” says the writer, now with a title—Lord Fellowes, please—and a new Downton Abbey movie on the way, although he still worries that one day a giant hand may reach MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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in and snatch it all away. “One likes to believe that people who come to success later in life are nicer and more understanding and gentler personalities. This doesn’t necessarily prove true in the eating, I can tell you, because sometimes people have so many chips on their shoulders. They are kind of ‘I’ll show them,’ to a quite operatic degree.” That he counts himself among the I’ll-showthems is clear from the The Gilded Age, in which fortunes are made, resentments avenged, and reputations toppled with a single misstep. “To be seen in the right place, doing the right thing, was a core part of their self-image, much as it is of ours,” says Fellowes of success in Mrs. Astor’s New York, which he grew interested in after reading books about Consuelo Vanderbilt and Jay Gould, along with Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. “Culture was worn like a badge by those rapacious robber barons, which was why attendance at the 28

opera was a key activity, even if they must have been bored to sobs most of the time. We perhaps use causes more than opera, but the goal is the same: to make us look good.” He adds, “I feel I’ve said quite a lot about the British class system past and present, and it seemed interesting to be talking about a different society, a new society that had different roots.” His fascination with class goes back to his childhood growing up in Chiddingly, a village in the English county of East Sussex. His father was a diplomat whose ancestors included an admiral of Lord Nelson’s—they had a nanny, cook, two maids—but his less illustrious mother was condescended to horribly by her in-laws. Fellowes can remember going to tea with a paternal great-aunt, Mrs. Hamilton Stephenson—on whom Maggie’s Smith’s character, Lady Trentham, is based in Gosford Park—and his mother having to drop off

MOMENT IN THE SUN Top right: Fellowes on the set of the 1989 television movie Goldeneye, an Ian Fleming biopic in which he played the author’s friend, Noel Coward; top left, Fellowes’s home in Dorset in southwest England, which he bought following the success of Gosford Park.

DORSET: DORSET MEDIA SERVICE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; FELLOWES: ITV/SHUTTERSTOCK

Fellowes still worries that one day a giant hand may reach in and snatch it all away.

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TRINITY COLLEGE REHEARSAL: DOUGLAS MILLER/KEYSTONE/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

ROYAL FLUSH Fellowes rehearsing the college review sketch "Peycheque Place" with Prince Charles and Leslie Haines and in 1970, during their Cambridge University days.

He befriended Jane Seymour and Pierce Brosnan. “They were both very, very beautiful. Not only was I not beautiful, I wasn’t goodlooking on any level.”

him and his three brothers. “‘Come for them at 6 pm,’ she was told, and you think, ‘Why can’t she stay and have some tea?’ As a child, these things are very bewildering.” One time, he went to get a teaspoon out of a drawer in the kitchen, and asked, “‘Why are there so many different kinds of teaspoons?’ My great-aunt said, ‘Because they’re not teaspoons, dear. This is a melon spoon. This is an egg spoon. This is a sugar spoon. This is a…’ and it went right down the list. It was as if I’d peeped into Tutankhamen’s tomb or something. I suddenly saw all these relics of a complicated world with a million rules, about which I knew nothing.” Graduating from Cambridge in the early ’70s with the ambition of being an actor, he quickly found the vogue for working-class actors such as Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay relegated him to roles in West End comedies in which he fell down a flight of stairs every night. “Nobody thought I had

a cat’s chance in hell of making a living,” he says, “I don’t think they were thinking in terms of stardom. They were thinking in terms of eating. I felt rather stuck, really. I didn’t want to just be falling down stairs for the rest of my life on the West End stage.” After five or six years of this, he upped and moved to Los Angeles, where he had small roles in two films starring Wonder Woman’s Lynda Carter, and befriended Jane Seymour and Pierce Brosnan. “They were both very, very beautiful. Not only was I not beautiful, I wasn’t good-looking on any level.” Often, though, he found himself called upon as a script reader for his more successful friends. “They would give me these scripts and say, ‘I’ve been offered this by Warner.’ And I would read it and I would say, ‘Well, I think acts one and two are very strong, but then the logic of it falls apart in act three,’ and so on. Looking back, that was a kind of training, really, for writing scripts of my own.” MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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HEIRS TO ALL THAT Clockwise, from above: old New York society figures Ada Brook, played by Cynthia Nixon, and her sister Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) in The Gilded Age; a who’s who of Downton Abbey: A New Era includes, from left, Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond), Lord Merton (Douglas Reith), Lord Hexham (Harry Hadden-Paton), Lady Edith Hexham (Laura Carmichael), Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), Lady Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery),Thomas Barrow (Robert James Collier), Lady Merton (Penelope Wilton), and Andy (Michael Fox); young heiress Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) and her secretary Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) in The Gilded Age.

After leaving drama school in 1973 he had written and had published three historical novels, but it wasn’t until he married his wife, Emma Kitchener, the great-great niece of the first Earl Kitchener, and a lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent, in 1990, and started a family, that he began writing scripts for the BBC—a new version of Little Lord Fauntleroy was followed by The Prince and the Pauper. With the birth of their son, Peregrine, “I was much happier personally,” he says. “As company, I’d become funnier and less desperate.” In 1999 the actor Bob Balaban recommended Fellowes to Robert Altman to write the screenplay for Gosford Park. Altman even kept Fellowes onset to nitpick details of dress and etiquette. “ ‘He wouldn't be in a hat, Bob. She isn’t Lady Mary, Bob, she’s Lady Smith. They wouldn’t be serving. She wouldn’t be in the kitchen. They wouldn’t be on 30

this staircase. Those suitcases are wrong, Bob,’ ” remembers Fellowes. “By the end of a day’s shooting, when I opened my mouth, there’d be a sort of ‘Uh-oh, here he comes.’ I’m very, very grateful to Robert Altman, who really gave me my career. He gambled on me and he threw the dice for me, which I never forgot, but when people sometimes say to me, ‘You must wish that your lucky break had come when you were 30 instead of 50…’ And of course, in a way, but I wouldn’t have had the nerve at 30 to do what I did at 50, which is to say to Bob, ‘This is rubbish.’” The other huge benefit of his late-breaking success is the sympathy which his years of struggle lent his portrayal of the below-stairs staff in both Gosford Park and Downton Abbey. He could easily have written a Lord Grantham in his thirties, but the valet Bates would probably have been beyond him. But by his fifties, he knew what it was to work

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THE GILDED AGE: ALISON COHEN ROSA/HBO; DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA: BEN BLACKALL/ © 2021 FOCUS FEATURES, LLC

“You are dealt certain cards, and all the socioeconomic reforms in the world can’t alter that.”

hard, suffer setbacks, and be uncomplaining. The key to Bates, says Fellowes, was Downton’s first episode where he is sacked, briefly pleads for his job, then retires to his room, where Anna brings him food, only for her to find him crying. The memory brings Fellowes briefly to tears himself. “It’s making me cry now…but she sees him crying and at that moment you learn that he is in fact as emotional as everyone else, but he can never express it. And that was really the engine of Bates.” It reminds him of his father’s uncomplaining military service in World War II. “This present-day thing of everyone being hurt and wounded and offended all the time: put a sock in it and pour a double whiskey and shut up.” That said, he adds, “I cry at everything. I cry when the little girl drops her paper flower in the puddle in a commercial for some washing product. I’m torn between the generations because of the span I’ve lived, but

I do admire people who can just take it and not complain.” I ask if there’s any character in the new series that he feels such a strong emotional connection to. “At this stage of my life, I think it’s probably Agnes,” he says, speaking of Baranski’s waspish, hard-to-please spinster. “I look around and see the world crumbling. I hope they [the Gilded Age characters] all have a point of view and a believable trajectory. I want everyone to be on a path that is taking them somewhere and the pleasure is in playing it out.” He pauses. “Until at least my middle thirties, I don’t think I fully understood that life is a game of cards. You are dealt certain cards, and all the socioeconomic reforms in the world can’t alter that. Human beings are dealt different things. And I admire people who play their cards as well as they can.” The Gilded Age is showing on HBO. Downton Abbey: A New Era is released on May 20. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Oudh That and a Buddha Schist

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or collectors and curators, Asia Week New York [AWNY] remains a marquee event on the international art market calendar,” says newly appointed chair Dessa Goddard of the Upper East Side fair, the 14th edition of which steps off March 16. Joining this year’s roster of 26 participating galleries—from Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, and the United States—are Fu Qiumeng Fine Art and Miyako Yoshinaga, noted dealers in both ancient and modern Chinese and Japanese art respectively. Rare and wonderful treasures on offer include a 4th-century gray schist head of the Buddha from Gandhāra, tendered by Kapoor Galleries; a charming Indian miniature, Nawab of Oudh Shujaud-Daula Seated in a Pavilion Writing a Letter, painted by the court artist Gobind Singh (circa 1760) and available from Art Passages; and

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a pair of six-paneled folding screens by Taishoera painter Eiryō Satake. Executed in 1916, the sublime, pale-toned screens can be acquired from Erik Thomsen of Thomsen Gallery. In concert with AWNY, New York’s leading auction houses—Bonhams, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Doyle, Heritage Auctions, and iGavel— are holding sales. Among the standouts are an 18th-century celadon-glazed Chinese porcelain “Dragon” charger bearing the seal of the Yongzheng Emperor, which goes under the gavel at Doyle on March 21, tagged at $80,000 to $120,000, and a 13th-century gilt-copper alloy figure of the Buddhist savior goddess Tara from Nepal, which hits the block at Bonhams on March 22, carrying an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. The well-provenanced Tara figurine hails from the collection of esteemed Himalayan scholar Michael Henss. The fair runs through March 25. AsiaWeekNewYork.com

BUDDHA HEAD: COURTESY KAPOOR GALLERIES; GOBIND SINGH: COURTESY ART PASSAGES; GILT COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF TARA, COURTESY BONHAMS

Masterpieces of Asian art take center stage on the Upper East Side in March, writes Angela M.H. Schuster

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SAVING GRACE A 13th-century gilt-copper alloy figure of the Buddhist savior goddess Tara from Nepal hits the block a Bonhams. Opposite, from top: An 18th-century Indian miniature painted by the court artist Gobind Singh and a 4th-century gray schist head of the Buddha from Gandhāra are among the treasures available in the galleries during Asia Week New York.

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Broad Spectrum Galleries shows to see this spring

NARI WARD Lehmann Maupin, 501 West 24th Street, New York April 28–June 4

For this exhibition, the Jamaican-born, New York–based artist is producing a galleryspanning installation that includes a suite of handsomely scaled copper panels and other mixed-media works forged from found objects—such “discards of consumerism” as glass bottles, scrap metal, oil drums, and worn-out clothes, shoes, and shoelaces. “Ward,” says gallerist David Maupin, “has been widely celebrated for his sculptural installations in which he re-contextualizes the source materials to create complex, metaphorical juxtapositions that confront social and political issues surrounding race, poverty, and consumer culture.” lehmannmaupin.com

KEITH TYSON: DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS Hauser & Wirth, 542 West 22nd Street, New York Through April 2

“For more than three decades, Keith Tyson has used a variety of methods and materials to explore our reality and art’s role in representing it,” says Hauser & Wirth president Marc Payot. The gallery is presenting a suite of new works by the Turner Prize–winning British artist that fills both ground floor spaces—among them large-scale paintings that explore the genre of floral still life. “These big, lush canvases are as visually gorgeous as they are conceptually rigorous,” Payot explains, adding that, “We’re hoping visitors will view them collectively like a harbinger of spring, both literally and metaphorically, after these many months of cold and Covid.” In May, Thames & Hudson will release Iterations and Variations, a new monograph on the artist with more than 400 illustrations and editorial contributions by Michael Archer, Matthew Collings, Ariane Koek, Mark Rappolt, and Beatrix Ruf. hauserwirth.com 34

KEITH TYSON'S STILL LIFE WITH NO SENSE OF SELF (2021) © KEITH TYSON, COURTESY THE ARTIST AND HAUSER & WIRTH, PHOTO BY PETER MALLET; NARI WARD'S BREATHING AIR DRIP (2021) © NARI WARD, COURTESY THE ARTIST AND LEHMANN MAUPIN, NEW YORK, HONG KONG, SEOUL, AND LONDON

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LEO VILLAREAL

LEO VILLAREAL'S DIFFUSED COLOR (LARGE B) (2021) © LEO VILLAREAL, COURTESY PACE GALLERY; DOROTHEA TANNING'S DOOR 84 (1984) © DOROTHEA TANNING, COURTESY KASMIN GALLERY, © 2022 THE DESTINA FOUNDATION/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

Pace, 340 Royal Poinciana Way, Suite M333, Palm Beach March 17–April 3

Pace is presenting five new abstract LED light works created by the noted New Mexico-born, New York–based artist who uses custom artist-generated computer code to modify the frequency, intensity, and patterning radiating from each of his compositions. Among Villareal’s most notable projects have been his large-scale environmental installations such The Bay Lights (2013). Commissioned as a temporary installation, The Bay Lights, which stretches nearly two miles across San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, was inaugurated as a permanent public work in 2016. The artist’s current projects include Illuminated River, slated to become the longest public art installation in the world. Upon completion, its abstract patterns of light and color will bathe up to 15 bridges spanning the River Thames in a way that “will respond to the city of London and its natural surroundings of currents, tides, and sky.” pacegallery.com DOROTHEA TANNING: DOESN’T THE PAINTING SAY IT ALL? Kasmin Gallery, 509 West 27th Street, New York March 3–April 16

“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now,” said the painter Dorothea Tanning, who died in New York in 2012, age 101. Highly influenced by the Surrealists, including her husband of 34 years, Max Ernst, Tanning explored the tension and balance that exists between figuration and abstraction throughout her career, producing a wide-ranging oeuvre that included painting, sculpture, printmaking, and ultimately writing. This month, Kasmin presents

the first solo show of works by the artist in decades. Highlights include Door 84 (1984), a mixed-media diptych, demarcated by the addition of a found door, a sculptural element that projects into the viewer’s space while connecting its two painted halves. “The exhibition,” says Marc Glimcher, “will chart Tanning’s journey from her surrealist dreamscapes of the 1940s through the highly fragmented, prismatic, and layered imagery that emerged in her work in the 1950s and ’60s, when her paintings delight in the refraction of both light and of reality.” For those heading to Europe later this year, several of Tanning’s canvases will be featured in “Surrealism and Magic: Enchanting Modernity,” which opens at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice on April 9 and runs through September 26. kasmingallery.com MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Four books that travel, through time, memory, and remarkable landscapes, with Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel, Constance C.R. White on Margo Jefferson’s memoir, and two figures’ contrasting encounters with history

SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)

“Illness frightens us because it’s chaotic,” writes Emily St. John Mandel in Sea of Tranquility, her new novel. “There’s an awful randomness about it.” Set across multiple centuries both past and present, Mandel focuses the heft of her story on the eerie anticipation that exists just before the outbreak of a global pandemic— unfortunately, an experience we know all too well. Ours, too, have been the strange pinpoint decisions we’ve had to make, the frantic last-minute orders for food and for entertainment in the face of lockdown, the odd hopefulness. 36

After all, we tried to tell ourselves, hunkered down in our homes, this is a chance to consider how we want to reemerge—if we can. And yet we’ve also approached this outlook with a certain dread, that perhaps this time the world is really ending. The novel begins in 1912, two years before the outbreak of the First World War and six before the Spanish influenza, as British 18-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled to Canada from his family estate after speaking out of turn at dinner. Some years later, on a walk in the woods, he experiences a strange flash of light, accompanied by faint violin music, then a loud whoosh, and almost as quickly, the vision dissolves. It’s a strange event, shortly followed by an even stranger one, when Edwin shows up to meet his priest at church, and finds instead a charlatan named Gaspery, who takes off before Edwin can determine his true intentions. Don’t get comfortable, though: we’re thrust forward nearly a century to 2020 on the eve of Covid-19. But the story really lifts off in 2203, as Olive Llewellyn, who writes about pandemics from her home on the moon, heads off for a book tour on earth. “We have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story,” Olive tells one of her rapt crowds. “It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history… but...What if it always is the end of the world?” Uncannily, though, she delivers the same remarks, over and over again, in a rotating log of cities, in one beige hotel after the other, with St. John Mandel and her brilliant attention to detail weaving in layer upon layer of mystery. Sea of Tranquility ends up being as much about time travel as about its world-weary travelers, about the pain of mortality, the randomness of sickness, and the stymying chance that everyone is interconnected after all. Whether against lunarscapes or down below, traversing eons or simply trying to make it through the most recent bout of illness ravaging the globe, the novel still insists on shimmering with hope and possibility. The world might be ending, yet there’s no place we’d rather be. —claire gibson

THE DUCHESS COUNTESS: THE WOMAN WHO SCANDALIZED EIGHTEENTHCENTURY LONDON by Catherine Ostler (Atria)

Reynolds painted her. Walpole chronically condemned her. Her wiles and her wit struck Thackeray and Coleridge, Dickens and Woolf. Casanova himself was stopped in his tracks in 1765 when he encountered the “celebrated lady” Elizabeth Chudleigh so soaked by a spring downpour “she looked worse than naked." He added, "she seemed to enjoy it,” an impression not unlike her famous appearance at a London masquerade ball attended by George III as a sacrificial Iphigenia. “So naked,” wrote Elizabeth Montagu, “the high priest might easily inspect the entrails of the victim.” As Catherine Ostler points out in her vibrant, vivacious, and scrupulous biography The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Scandalized Eighteenth-Century London, George Washington and the war for American independence hardly stood a chance in the English press when this electrifying, polarizing figure went on trial for bigamy before the full House of Lords in 1776. Sometimes we just want to take history by the scruff of the neck and ask, what took so long? Where has Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston-upon-Hull and, according to the criminal and civil claims leveled against her, secretly and simultaneously Countess of Bristol, been all this time? Friend to Europe’s high and mighty, where have the annals been hiding her? The answer, so simple, and so complex, is finely teased out by Ostler, well-credentialed for this task both as a former editor-inchief of Tatler and having read 18thcentury English literature at Oxford. She has the period dead to rights.

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Standards didn’t get much more double than in the Georgian England that Elizabeth Chudleigh was born into in 1721. Her father’s position as lieutenant governor of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea afforded the family social connections that came through for her despite his death when she was seven, as well as, in Ostler’s view, a lifelong sense of abandonment, vulnerability, and lavish neediness. A bright, spirited girl, she soon learned to place beauty ahead of brains in an era of gender-biased power as breezy and inexorable as a foxhunter’s crop against the flank of a thoroughbred. Appointed a maid of honor to Augusta, Princess of Wales, in her early twenties, she was thrust, too, into a culture increasingly in thrall to the airing of private matters by professional gossipmongers, with reputations tried by cacophonous reportage and published opinions that Ostler deftly presents as foreshadowing our own. Chudleigh’s socially restive personality soon met its ill-fated match in the impulsivity of the dashing, irresponsible Augustus Hervey, third Earl of Bristol. Married in stealth, both almost immediately volte-faced, meaning relatively little for him, but for her several decades of convoluted machinations in order to be able to marry the love of her life, Evelyn Pierrepont, the powerfully wealthy Duke of Kingston. Upon his untimely death, relatives hopeful of inheritance brought the bigamy charges associated with Chudleigh to this day. In The Duchess Countess, Catherine Ostler separates the life from the sentence, the reality from the notoriety, and reverses supercilious historical disdain. —celia mcgee

CONSTRUCTING A NERVOUS SYSTEM: A MEMOIR by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon)

Even before I worked there, I loved to read Margo Jefferson on theater, on books, and on popular culture in the The New York Times. Her musings might take off in one direction, change course to state a philosophical truism, leap into a juicy slice of American history, and lunge acrobatically into contemporary society along the way. Unconstrained by any traditional definition of a memoir, in Constructing a Nervous System, Jefferson asks us to reconsider what form it might shape-shift into, presenting the emotional affects and mental exercises of her inner world as an invitation for us to reflect on our own lives as she responds to external events that define her and, more broadly, America. Growing up in Chicago’s Black elite (chronicled in her 2015 memoir, Negroland), Jefferson saw her parents travel to New York for Broadway shows, she attended Brandeis and Columbia, and became a sought-after academic, author, and a critic, one who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Yet to become a person of what she considered “complex and stirring character,” she writes, “I must break myself into pieces—hammer, saw, chisel away at the unworthy parts—then rebuild….It was laborious….Like stone masonry.” How well it worked. This book’s pacing is a Ferris wheel, starting slowly, then climbing, faster, higher, higher to deliver thrill after thrill: Among a dazzling number of others, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Bing Crosby, Josephine Baker, and Willa Cather are along for Jefferson’s revelatory, inspiring,

and provocative ride. She draws a thematic line from Cather, who once passed herself off as a William, and declared that she loved women, to her own life as an African American woman. “Willa Cather, I know something about your abjection, your compensatory drives, your erotic and emotional needs; how you made yourself into a vessel that could contain longing and rapture; desire never assuaged but never renounced.” When Jefferson enters into a six-year heterosexual love affair with a memorably younger Brazilian lover, it’s a traffic sign pointing to the slipperiness of love and ageism. It’s not the only whispered “ism” she prods. Remembering how “besotted” she was with Nina Simone when she was young, she also admits with stone-cold honesty to a teenage self contaminated, like so many Blacks, then as now, by colorism. “In 1959, would I have preferred Miss Simone to be a lighter brown? Yes.” This is vintage Jefferson, a statement at once startling in its hostility and poignant in its vulnerability, delivered by one of the nerviest memoirists writing today. —CONSTANCE C.R. WHITE

RIVERMAN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY by Ben McGrath (Knopf)

At one point during the high autumn November days of North Carolina in 2014, a farmer and his young son happened upon an abandoned, overturned red canoe tucked among the stumps of cypress knees in the Albemarle Sound, an estuary that serves as the convergence point for several local rivers in the region. For investigators at the time, this was another missing persons case

in a body of water known for occasionally risky weather patterns and depleted fishing stores. For journalist and veteran New Yorker staff writer Ben McGrath, this was the beginning of a yearslong quest to uncover the fate of someone who, as it turns out, happened to be an unexpected friend to countless unconnected people all over the country. Riverman: An American Odyssey is McGrath’s debut book, a touching tribute to the man to whom the canoe and its contents belonged. The story of Dick Conant checks off all the boxes of an urban legend, the only unqualifying detail being that there are dozens—if not hundreds—of direct-encounter stories of him from all over the country, spanning decades. His colorful and notoriously unforgettable personality left its mark among Americans from all walks of life. A former Catholic seminarian and a military veteran, Conant traded a life on the land for a plastic canoe and oar and committed to spending the rest of his days meeting people at their homes, shops, diners, and bars, wherever the country’s crisscrossing tributaries took him. One such person was the book’s New York–based author, whose house on the banks of the Hudson River Conant one day paddled past just two months before his unsolved disappearance. McGrath begins the collection of first-person narratives that make up the book with his own. He describes his enchantment with the mysterious, yet effortlessly sociable, middle-aged boater, a man largely disconnected from the technological grid, with an Old World explorer’s spirit in an age when this is becoming impossible. McGrath, along with the many men and women he interviewed for the book, refers to his unmistakable presence ironically coupled with a timid sense of self-awareness, and gives us readers a sense of meeting the one-of-a-kind Conant ourselves. Equal parts historically detailed and distinctly personal, Riverman is not only the biography of one man but an anthology of the riverside towns both small and large that have been the centuries-old lifeblood of an America that has always quietly existed. —MARK LIBATIQUE

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YOUNG HEARST RUN FREE

THREE GENER ATIONS REMOVED FROM THE NEW SPAPER T YCOON WHO FOUNDED HER FAMILY ’S FORTUNE, HEIRESS AND PALM BEACH REGUL AR AMANDA HEARST RØNNING HAS MADE HER OWN NAME SYNONYMOUS WITH ANIMAL WELFARE AND SUSTAINABLE FASHION. SHE SPOKE— BUT S ADLY DECLINED TO GOSSIP—WITH BOB MORRIS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW MACPHERSON

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BLACK, WHITE, AND READ ALL OVER Left: publishing heiress Amanda Hearst Rønning wearing a Silvia Tcherassi dress, Aera shoes, Westward Leaning sunglasses, and jewelry by Vrai; above, a Santicler turtleneck and jewelry by Vrai.

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hen Amanda Hearst Rønning was a child, her animal-loving then-single mother, Anne Hearst, moved out to the Hamptons from New York City and lived on a farm. It had all kinds of animals, including an emu named Einstein, a wallaby, donkeys, goats, and more. As a girl, she’d also visit the zebras and other exotic animals at San Simeon, the California castle of her great-grandfather, William Randolph Hearst, where she held her wedding decades later. Once, when a family cat caught a baby bird, fallen from its nest, the ethical fashion entrepreneur and environmental philanthropist with an interest in animal welfare sprang into action. Her mother warned it would probably die. But young Amanda, now 38, took care of the little bird, even praying for it, and it survived. “That experience one hundred percent impacted me,” she says on a Zoom interview in late January from London, where she had temporarily relocated from Los Angeles with her husband, Joachim Rønning, a Norwegian movie director. (Best known for Pirates of the Caribbean and Maleficent, he is currently shooting a feature in Europe.) By the time Hearst was in her twenties, she was going on puppy mill raids with her pal, Georgina Bloomberg. “We had to be armed so we had the police with us, and we had to wear

masks because the smell was so bad,” she recalls of one of many raids down south in North Carolina where animals were in terrible condition. “It was a very messy situation.” Since then, and perhaps thanks in part to her efforts, legislation has been passed, and many pet stores that use puppy mills have closed. “People are way more conscious than they used to be,” she says. She is right that it was not always so. In fact, just ten years ago, when Hearst was an associate market editor at Marie Claire, where she kept a low profile and her nose to the grindstone working in a building with her name on it, she was a bit of an editorial outlier with a column focused on sustainability in fashion. “I wanted to destigmatize the industry because at the time a lot of people thought it was a hippie thing,” she says. “And a lot of mainstream brands were reluctant to talk about their sustainability because they thought that it undermined their luxury nature.” Not anymore. And in fact, the company she cofounded in 2015, Maison de Mode Marketplace, a luxury online shopping site, is thriving. It sells a carefully curated list of everything from jeans to splashy dresses from mindful designers, and uses terms like “upcycled” and “carbon neutral shipping” with little explanation. The clothing is recycled, the fabrics low impact, MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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as are the accessories. And if there are diamonds to sell, they have to be vintage and cultured, not from mines that are brutal to workers and the land. “People who shop on our site just like the products and they don’t necessarily think about sustainability, which is what we are really selling,” she says. “But that’s fine as long as they are shopping and we keep supporting brands that are mission based.” To further that mission, Maison de Mode has a communications and consulting arm to help companies navigate complicated sustainability branding issues in which disingenuous “greenwashing” can be used more for marketability than sustainability. Recently her company has been advising Lacoste with its “360-degree sustainability” approach, a reference to creating environmentally friendly products and then figuring out how to market them effectively. “Amanda is really the driving force behind the brands and products we sell,” says Hassan Pierre, her partner at Maison de Mode. “She’s well-versed and thoughtful, not impulsive.” To further the mission Hearst teamed up with another friend, Breanna Schultz, to help her form a philanthropic organization called Well Beings. The goal is to identify and fund activities that support the safety of the planet and the animals living on it. The research can be unsettling. “She’s my partner in adventure going to see things that are hard to see,” says Schultz, whose husband, Jordan, is the son of Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive. Schultz 42

POOL PARTY Above: Hearst in an Ética shirt and jewelry by Vrai; right, the designer shows off her pool skills in a waistcoat, pants, and scarf by St. Roche, Sylven New York boots, a bracelet and ear cuff by Vrai, necklace by Ali Grace, earrings and ring by Marlo Laz, and a Shashi ring.

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“I HAD TO ACCEPT THAT A WEDDING IS INHERENTLY UNSUSTAINABLE, BUT I TRIED TO WEAVE IN SUSTAINABILITY WHENEVER I COULD.”

FRESH HEIR Hearst looks ahead in a dress and scarf by Gabriela Hearst, Astara shoes, Marlo Laz earrings, necklace, and ring, bracelets and a ring by Shashi, and a ring by Ali Grace.

wonders if Hearst’s beauty and soft-spoken nature throw people off the scent of her savvy: “She’s very strategic, and when she says something it really means something.” It all sounds impeccably upright, if not uptight, for a woman who counts Paris Hilton, a far more insouciant heiress, as a close friend. But it didn’t come without one little youthful hiccup of indiscretion. When she was a teenager, Hearst found herself the subject of ridicule when an editor at Harper’s Bazaar—someone she was interning for, at her own family company, no less—used her as the subject of a 2002 piece about her special expenses as a junior socialite. The figure came in at $136,000. It took a while to live it down. When she gave an interview to the New York Times in 2012, after glossy short-lived stints as a model for Tommy Hilfiger and Lilly Pulitzer, she made it clear she was careful “not to be a jerk” and that security at the Hearst building doesn’t know who she is. “Whenever the subject of doing reality television comes up, I immediately disregard it because most people don’t come off well and it’s embarrassing,” she said. “You see how far it can go in the media when someone misbehaves.” For the niece of Patty Hearst and great-granddaughter of a publisher who thrived on reporting scandal to the masses, she seems to have fallen pretty far from the family tree. Well, at least she got married at San Simeon in a 2019 wedding lavishly covered by Hearst’s Town & Country (no word on whether she requested copy approval, after the earlier debacle at Harper’s Bazaar) and with Paris Hilton playing DJ. There were six outfit changes for the bride, all carefully considered vintage or from recycled fabrics. And while the wedding feast contained no red meat, there were vegan ice cream–filled doughnuts and a ceremony under a gold leaf ceiling in a cottage where Clark Gable and Winston Churchill once stayed as guests in less mindful times. The previous evening’s guests

included Jay McInerney, her stepfather and a bestselling author, and a reindeer, in a nod to her husband’s Norwegian heritage. It was from a local fallow deer shelter for animal rescues. “I had to accept that a wedding is inherently unsustainable, but I tried to weave in sustainability whenever I could,” she said. The flowers and leftover food were donated to local charities, not thrown away. Her recent jaunts for Well Beings included a visit to the mangroves in Vieques, Puerto Rico, where development is endangering marine life and impinging on the natural barriers that the swamps form between nature and civilization. It’s something she notes is relevant to the Palm Beach area as well, where she also spends time. A prepandemic trip to Bolivia had her checking out the animals devastated by fires in the rainforests. She and Schultz spent ten days at a wildlife sanctuary called Senda Verde in primitive housing that was the opposite of luxurious. A high point was helping out by holding baby howler monkeys who had been orphaned. “They were hanging all over me like playful little kids and it wasn’t scary at all,” she said. “But the reason they were there was very sad.” Given her love of animals, one might think she has fallen prey to the world of animal videos on TikTok. You would be wrong about that, although she admits to watching Tiger King, which interested her initially because of the animal welfare aspect. A recent Instagram post for her 350,000 followers shows her with a baby goat on her mother’s farm. Would she consider trying goat yoga, which lets goats lose to climb on practitioners? “I would give it a try,” she says. Once you are dogged by the tabloid media or covered with baby howler monkeys, a goat on your back is nothing. Styling by Christina Pacelli; makeup by Genevieve Garner; photography assistant: Ryan Pavlovich. Photographed at 410 Doheny Road, Beverly Hills, CA., courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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THEY KNEW SUZY Blue-spectacled blueblood Anne Slater with Mortimer’s proprietor Glenn Bernbaum and columnist Aileen “Suzy” Mehle.

W O T P U 1 9 76 , B A U M IN N R E B N GLEN E R AT IO N N E N E D BY E P G O , A ’S R R E K, RO FO M O R T IM -TO B IS T NEW BOO O G IR E E H H T T ER WA S OGRAPH ID E R S . IN T S O T H S P A D E R AN AY OF UPPE L E ACO C K IE N D S ) P R R F E T. K Y A N B A B IN HM A L H AU N C IT O W L G Y N R R O LO E N DA L IA R D ( A T H E L EG O T E T M A RY H IL U T R IB

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“MORTIMER’S WAS THE MOST FAMOUS SOCIETY BISTRO/ BURGER JOINT OF THE LAST QUARTER OF THE 20TH CENTURY IN NEW YORK.” David Patrick Columbia

ADORATION OF THE PLAYGUY Above: David Patrick Columbia surrounded by Nancy Missett, Karen LeFrak, Mai Harrison, and Joan Schnitzer; left: Bernbaum watches Bobby Short make a wish.

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obert Caravaggi, co-proprietor of the late Swifty’s restaurant in New York, as well as the maître d’hôtel and host of the long-ago late and lamented restaurant Mortimer ’s, sent us the original menu he found among his storage items. Its proprietor, Glenn Bernbaum, opened the place on the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and Seventy-fifth Street in March 1976. That particular corner had been occupied by neighborhood bars and restaurants over the years. In the 1960s it had been strictly a neighborhood bar called the Whiffenpoof, with tables and a kitchen—a last stop after-dinner-before-home for a lot of business folk in the area. Glenn no doubt knew the location well when looking for a spot to open a restaurant. He was a longtime resident in the area, home to many socially prominent and ambitious New Yorkers. Glenn was in his early fifties when he opened Mortimer’s. He had never been in the restaurant business, although he had been a successful executive in the retail business, as president of the Custom Shops, a major retail chain owned by a man named Mortimer Levitt. Owning a restaurant was a common daydream for a lot of men of his generation of the 20th century. It came with all the imagined ingredients of daily pleasure: food and drink, and the convivial. The reputation of those who possessed famous highend establishments like ‘21’, Le Pavillon, the Colony, La Côte Basque, Quo Vadis, or Le Cirque could also gain status. Glenn knew exactly what he wanted, whom he wanted for clientele— and what his menu would be for that clientele. That know-how was his ace, and how he had got to be a valued executive. The 48

previous business at that location had been a faux-pine paneled room and bar of no particular style—but neat and clean, with two windows open to the avenue and the street corner. Glenn’s idea was not original, but it was prosperous. His inspiration was P. J. Clarke’s, established on the corner of Fifty-fifth Street and Third Avenue in 1884. What began as a saloon became, in the 20th century, a bar and restaurant famous for its celebrated clientele rubbing elbows with the neighborhood. In the 1960s, the style was expanded uptown by one of P. J. Clarke’s employees—a young man named Joe Allen, who opened a similar bar and restaurant on Seventy-third Street and Third Avenue. By the early seventies, Allen had developed the style for a restaurant and moved on to the Broadway area, where it remains today—like Clarke’s, a destination for celebrities as well as the neighborhood and tourists. With his newly designed establishment, Glenn installed a smart-looking green canopy with its name over the front entrance. Inside, he gutted the interior, taking down the walls to their deep red brick underneath. The wood paneling, where necessary, was painted brown. On the north side of the room was a traditional long bar. The corner window was the most desirable table in the house. Glenn used it for four or more. The tables running along the south wall were also popular. And the tables in the back of the room were of lesser rank. From opening day, for the first year, Glenn worked two jobs: his place at the Custom Shops and his nights at the new Mortimer’s. Within that time he achieved his objectives. His menu was reasonably priced, good, homestyle (high-style) food. Although he could be gracious and welcoming, he could also be equally as nettlesome a fellow, even with his best customers at times. But he was a shrewd and attentive proprietor. Quality was at the forefront, and those who possessed what he

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TINSELLY MORTIMER’S A joint birthday celebration for Emilia and Pepe Fanjul.

considered “quality of qualities” were given the table in the window and those close to it. You couldn’t make a reservation for that or any other table, although “no reservations” was for the hoi polloi. C. Z. Guest or Babe Paley or Jackie Onassis always had their social secretaries call ahead. Glenn was otherwise democratic with the rest of us, although it might have required waiting at the bar (which was part of the main room and not a bad place to wait and people watch). Its social prominence caught on quickly as a luncheon spot for the ladies of the neighborhood—that being Park and Fifth Avenues. It was picked up by Women’s Wear Daily in their natural quest for fashion news. And soon the fashionable lunched and dined there. It wasn’t a fashion scene so much as a clientele from the social world, both national and international, who always looked in fashion. There was a feeling of clubbiness to it, and you dressed as if it were in one. Glenn, the proprietor, was the social director—a role that he enjoyed and that rewarded him with a social popularity that he would never otherwise have known. What struck everyone about the menu were the prices. Yes, it was in the mid-1970s, but prices today in the same corner or in any restaurant of its kind—a salad for example—would be at least twenty or thirty times Mortimer’s simple tossed green salad at eighty-five cents. A cheeseburger (in those early years), which came with the lettuce, onion, tomato, and french fries properly served at a table and properly laid out: $2.10. Today’s comparable price for the cheeseburger would be $30 to $35 in that particular location in New York City. The location was also convenient; many could even walk to and from, getting in a little of that much-needed exercise. By the beginning of the 1980s and the Reagan era, it was without peer socially in New York. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a

regular, as were Beverly Sills; international party-giver Ludovic Autet; Anne Ford Johnson; acid-tongued but highly popular Jerry Zipkin; Anne Slater, the dazzling blonde whose signature was her blue glasses; Pat Kennedy Lawford; man-about-town John Galliher; Liz Fondaras; interior decorator Albert Hadley; Annette and Oscar de la Renta; Evelyn and Leonard Lauder; John F. Kennedy Jr.; David and Helen Gurley Brown; Joan Rivers; Betty Sherrill and her husband, investment banker Virgil Sherrill; Kay Meehan; Diego Del Vayo; the crisply chic and gentle Lee Thaw (whose name the bitchy Jerry Zipkin liked to pronounce as “Lee-thul”); Chessy Rayner and her business partner, Mica Ertegun, with her husband, Ahmet Ertegun (the record impresario); the most worldly gentleman of pianissimo and the American Songbook, Bobby Short; Poppi Thomas; C. Z. Guest; Nan Kempner (who lunched there every day, all snazzed up because she never left her apartment at Seventy-ninth Street and Park Avenue without looking smashing); and Pat Buckley, Nan’s “partner in chic,” who staged the annual Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, when all the Swells (and the Nobs) turned out looking glam. Glenn also owned the building in which the restaurant was located, and lived in one of the apartments. When he died in September 1998, Mortimer’s went with him. He left his entire multimillion-dollar estate to an AIDS-care division of New York Hospital, and the building was sold to the owners of Orsay, the restaurant that is now located in the same spot that was Mortimer’s. Mortimer’s was the most famous society bistro/burger joint of the last quarter of the 20th century in New York. Oh yes, there were and are many others, but in its day under the ownership (and dictatorship) of the late Glenn Bernbaum, it was without peer. —David Patrick Columbia MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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THE GLOVES ARE OFF Clockwise from above: Brooke Astor taking a bite out of life; the overflow crowd outside a Bob Colacello party; Bernbaum’s beloved pug, Swifty, was added later to this picture of Fernanda Niven, Taki Theodoracopulos, Nan Kempner, Pat Buckley, and Kenny Jay Lane; John Galliano with André Leon Talley; Princess Alexandra Schoenburg-Hartenstein with her husband and son, Taki and John Taki Theodoracopulos.

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ortimer’s looked like the inside of a fireplace and felt snug and warm—if you were a friend of the owner, Glenn Bernbaum, that is. Glenn knew New Yorkers like no other. He had gone to good schools, knew how to act properly, and had an almost mid-Atlantic accent practiced in his time by those not born in the Social Register but aware of it and its practitioners. He knew the difference between the Racquet Club and the Brook, and also knew where to place a Bianca from the Bronx if she came in with one of his regulars. Mortimer’s was classier than Elaine’s because the actors at Mortimer’s were not professionals. Writers adored Elaine’s and got the royal treatment from the fat lady, but the only regular scribes at Mortimer’s were Dominick Dunne and yours truly. I brought Norman Mailer in for the first time, but it wasn’t his natural habitat, as most Mortimer’s regulars read the financial and fashion pages. Yet Glenn managed the mix perfectly. He knew too many WASPs would spoil the broth and never spend any money. But the food was simple and great— the meat loaf to die for. Glenn also kept a lot of broken-down upper-class Englishmen like John Bowes-Lyon and all sorts of Russells and, of course, the queen of Spain, Diego Del Vayo. Which brings me to the best evening I ever had in the place. Diego, perennially broke, had permission from the benevolent owner to give a birthday dinner. I accepted when Reinaldo Herrera rang me and told me I had to attend a dinner for Princess Margaret that had just been arranged. I declined because

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I had already accepted Diego’s invite. So Reinaldo put the two parties together, and all sixteen or so of us had a merry old time in the back room. Lots of drink had everyone relaxed when PM decided she had had enough. As she rose to leave, the pianist stroked a few bars of “God Save the Queen.” “No, no, none of that,” commanded a drunken PM. That’s when little ole me came in: “It’s not for you, ma’am, it’s for Jerry Zipkin.” Neither la Margaret nor Zipkin ever spoke to me again, as the word got around and people started laughing—even some who had no idea who Zipkin was. I miss the place much more than I miss Elaine’s. —Taki Theodoracopulos

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“MY FAVORITE DISH WAS THE BILL BLASS MEATLOAF— ACTUALLY THE DESIGNER’S SPECIAL RECIPE—MASHED POTATOES, AND CREAMED SPINACH.” André Leon Talley

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remember C. Z. Guest of Old Westbury drove in and held her daughter’s debutante dinner at Mortimer’s. She took over the entire restaurant. It was black tie, and Cornelia went rogue modern, wearing a blue Fabrice spangled short evening sparkler. The heavy candelabra with white candles burned down and almost spilled onto my table, seated jammed up to the main bar in the large room. My favorite dish was the Bill Blass meatloaf—actually the designer’s special recipe—mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach. He loved creating grand evenings, as in his annual Fête de Famille, which raised money for AIDS. He once hosted a party for me, to entertain John Galliano in 1993. We sat outside on the sidewalk in an enclosed special tent. Iman came in wearing a long red Alaïa dress and caused a stir. John wore white powder on his hair, and John Bult—who helped fund the rebooting of Mr. Galliano with the March 1994 collection in Paris, at the late São Schlumberger’s landmark mansion—attended. He later took the Concorde to Paris and decided to give Galliano fifty grand to make that legendary show, which really launched his career as a visionary designer. That all happened because of Glenn Bernbaum at Mortimer’s. He was a friend. I never paid a tab—not once by the way—for all those luncheons and dinners of Bill Blass meatloaf. —André Leon Talley

From Mortimer’s: Moments in Time by Robin Baker Leacock, with photographs by Mary Hilliard. © 2022. Published by G Editions. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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THE ART OF DARKNESS NOT SATISFIED WITH SIMPLY ENJOYING HIS JUNKET TO PARADISE, MOODY LITERARY DUDE JOSHUA DAVID STEIN SEARCHES FOR DEEPER MEANING AT BLANCANEAUX, FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA’S LUXURY RESORT IN BELIZE

Illustrations by Mateusz Nowakowski

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“THE KNIFE GOES IN—FWAP!—AND OUT. THEY’RE DEAD IN THREE MINUTES.”

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t’s 95 degrees, a river tumbles through the remote Belizean wildlands. I am lying facedown wearing loose white pajamas a few feet from its banks, as a Thai woman named Pranee steps all over me. My skin flattens and bones complain. She hoists one leg up, drives her heel into my tail bone and pushes harder, driving my heel to the sky. I wonder if I’ll break in two, or perhaps into three. Sweating and stretched, but strangely relaxed, my mind turns in its delirious state to Francis Ford Coppola, bearded patron saint of indie filmmakers and, perhaps more incongruously, my host. For the thatched hut that constitutes the spa as well as the river that runs alongside it; the graceful main lodge; two pools; three restaurants; and 20 cabins all belong to Blancaneaux Lodge, one of the filmmaker’s five resorts scattered across the world. (Two are in Belize; one in Guatemala; one in Italy; and one in Argentina.) Blancaneaux is nestled into a steep hill on the banks of the Privassion Creek in the heart of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest, located in the Cayo District of western Belize. It is an unlikely oasis in a truly wild part of the world owned by an unlikely innkeeper. If, like me, you grew up on a steady diet of watching and rewatching Apocalypse Now, Coppola’s most audacious work, augmented by multiple viewings of his wife Eleanor’s 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness on the nutso making of the film—supplemented by repeated readings of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the tale on which the movie is loosely based—one can’t help but wonder if this here, this idyll, is part of a crazy real-life Coppola set. Which, I suppose, would make him Kurtz, the deranged captain mad with Promethean power…or perhaps it is I who is lost in the jungle, estranged from humankind and given over to his own darkness. Craaaack. A few vertebrae give in to Pranee’s pressure. My neck twists back and I fall into a deep sleep.

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few days earlier, after just one hour in the country, I’m sitting on the shaded veranda at Cheers, a sprawling restaurant alongside the Western Highway, about 30 miles from Belize City, halfway to Blancaneaux. White-necked jacobin hummingbirds flit around the mango trees in the yard, and José, my driver, is explaining how to kill a cow. “I just walk up behind them, nice and gentle, with the knife in my hand,” he says, with a thousand-kilowatt smile and his lilting Belizean accent. “The knife goes in—fwap!—and out. They’re dead in three minutes.” He pours some Marie Sharp hot sauce onto his plate of rice and beans, Belize’s national dish, and continues. “The blood squirts the length of the table!” My plate also beckons but, suddenly, I’m not quite as hungry. José, like many of the guides I meet, is friendly, absurdly knowledgeable, and has a side hustle. His happens to be working as a traveling butcher for many of the Mennonite families who moved to Belize from Canada in the 1950s and ’60s and who have settled in various enclaves around the country. That one will almost certainly pass horse-drawn carriages alongside the highway, driven by bearded and sun-toasted farmers wearing 19th-century dress, speaking an obscure 17th-century Prussian dialect, is just one of Belize’s many wonders. After lunch and the impromptu tutorial on slaughter, we head back on the road. Blancaneaux Lodge is tucked high up in a mountain range in a hard-toreach valley called, fittingly, Hidden Valley. The road there, Chiquibul Road, was treacherous and largely unsealed until just last year, when in an ultimately failed attempt to curry favor with the locals, the ruling party finally approved its paving. “We used to call it a free massage,” laughs José. Surely when Coppola first took the journey in the early 1980s, it must have been even more dangerous. We rattle past citrus plantations—some natives say many oranges marketed as Floridian are actually Belizean—and fields where cows, blissfully unaware of a butcher in their midst, graze contentedly. We wind through the jungle, past turnoffs for tiny towns like San Ignacio and San Antonio, until we make a hard right. The road gets smaller and smaller until it’s dirt running alongside a dirt airstrip and then suddenly it’s paved and there’s a thatched roof reception area, a pitcher of water with flowers floating in it to drink, and refreshing moist towels nearby. These things signify our arrival at Blancaneaux.

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t the tail end of filming Apocalypse Now, an ordeal that stretched over two years, caused vast overruns, a heart attack for Martin Sheen, and multiple nervous breakdowns for Coppola, the director needed a vacation and he wanted to buy a vacation house in a part of the Philippines known as Hidden Valley. (The film takes place in Vietnam but was shot, with the help of Ferdinand Marcos, in the Philippines.) As Bernie Matute, the general manager of Blancaneaux, tells me, his wife discouraged the purchase, telling Coppola there’s no way he was going to schlep from California to the Philippines with any regularity. Wisely, he acceded. A few years later, when he was visiting his son Gio in Belize, he met a larger-than-life Belizean chef/author/politician named Ray Lightburn, who, upon hearing that Coppola was in the market for a hidden valley, told him of one in Belize of the same name. Coppola duly flew out to the tiny airstrip in the middle of the trees, clambered out of the plane, and jumped into the creek. He saw a For Sale sign and was sold. That what was once a dilapidated lodge is now this Edenic compound is testament to Coppola’s world-making ability. The vertiginous hillside is neatly mowed; the cabins, with their cathedral-like thatched roofs and large mosquito-netted beds and tiled showers, gleam, like some primitive Versailles. There’s a conch in each room called a shell phone, by which one can reach the front desk. Who knew Coppola is the king of dad jokes? There are three restaurants, one of which—the Montagna Ristorante—serves undoubtedly the best penne with meatballs in Belize. It’s an old Coppola family recipe. Of course, this all took work. For a decade, the Coppolas used the property as a family vacation home. With no running water or electricity, Coppola contracted a Canadian hydroelectric concern to outfit the place with turbines. After celebrities like Quincy Jones encouraged him, he opened it as a

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resort in 1993. Now a staff of about 50 keep the 70 acres tautly idyllic. Upon arrival, I immediately took to my deck to gaze at the creek and search for traces of Kurtzian insanity. There is, after all, something mad about taming these dense trees, imprinting onto the wildness an artificial hydropowered oasis: the neat gravel walkways and the perfectly serene pool, which is a square of azure on the lush lawn. But all that comes back are whispers of comfort. Slightly disappointed, I soothe myself by the firepit with a potent glass of Jaguar Juice—rum plus a local liquor made with craboo—as a local band plays plaintive ballads in the Jaguar Bar.

THERE’S A CONCH IN EACH ROOM CALLED A SHELL PHONE, BY WHICH ONE CAN REACH THE FRONT DESK. WHO KNEW COPPOLA IS THE KING OF DAD JOKES?

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he next day, I awaken hungry for adventure. One could, I suppose, rest at Blancaneaux, lounge poolside, and check email. (I admit, I did much of that too.) But the lodge is the ideal base for quasiheroic activity. One of them is horseback riding into the reserve. So after a breakfast of fry jacks, a sort of fried dough pocket, I head to the Blancaneaux stables and to Diego, my guide. Soon we’re off, me wearing a silly helmet; Diego not. The woods around us were once dense with Caribbean pine but, in the early 2000s, a pine bark beetle epidemic ravaged the drought-weakened forest, destroying nearly 80 percent of trees. Today it’s lush enough, though the same climate change that doomed the trees is all too present, lurking in long periods of drought and record-high temperatures. As we lope along, red wing grasshoppers the size of mice are flying like little dandies on their way to meetings. Sandpaper plants line the path, and wild oregano scents the air. Diego points out termite nests and the sweet smell of black ants. Tapirs live in this preserve, but we see only tracks. After 45 minutes, we tie up our horses under a pine tree and hike down the wooden stairs to a waterfall. On weekends, he tells me, the spot is crowded with local families on picnics. But we’re the only ones here today. We change into bathing suits and swim against the current to the base of the waterfall. Perched on rocks, I look through the mist to see the world alight with rainbows. I was searching for an Apocalypse and came to Paradise instead. Phooey. Luckily, there was still time. Have you ever eaten mixed greens in the moonlight as happy families buzz around you like mosquitoes and mosquitoes buzz around you like harpies and all the choices of your life crash upon you like waves on a rocky shore? Nothing quite highlights one’s own solitude than being alone in a crowd at a luxurious retreat. It probably doesn’t help that my nose is buried in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. One night, while sitting on a hay bale at the Garden Spot, sipping a rosemary mojito among picturesque rows of Tuscan kale, carrots, onions, and lettuces at the property’s garden, I’m surrounded by two families seizing the last shreds of summer. Jason, one paterfamilias, a doctor of Chinese medicine, is with his wife and their two teenager kids, one of whom is friends with Caleb, who is there with his father, Dan, a big poobah at some talent agency in Los Angeles. I stew misanthropically, begrudging both families their happiness, and ruminate on the path that led me to lonesomeness. Aha, I think, in some perverted self-schadenfreude, I’ve found my misery at last, and all I had to do was look inward. But then Jason invites me to join the group for dinner, which I do, and my resentment melts away. Dan tells me about the Barolos he loves, Jason about ginseng, as the kids inquire about my tattoos. It’s not my family but it is a family—two, actually—and it’ll do.

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PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT, RUSSELL CORDEIRO. STYLIST ASSISTANT, TAYLOR WOOD. PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE TOWERS OF THE WALDORF ASTORIA, NEW YORK


E P I L O G U E

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rancisco Reymundo loves Jeep Cherokees and has a plan to buy them in Florida and drive through Mexico to resell in Belize. He is also one of the only 30 or so guides licensed to take tourists into the ATM, the Actun Tunichil Muknal, a complex of caves discovered in 1989 and once used for Mayan sacrifice, located near Blancaneaux. Francisco picks me up from the gates of the resort in a white Cherokee—“I bought it for a few hundred dollars!”—with a crack through its windscreen. We head back to the coast, stopping for barbecue chicken and rice and beans from a guy standing at a drum grill outside his house. We bump along fields of corn and soybeans. “These are all owned by the Mennonites,” says Francisco. “They’re expert farmers.” Eventually we come to a gate manned, if one could say that, by a sullen 12-year-old boy. A sign says it costs 20 Belizean dollars ($9.90 USD) to enter, but it’s just for show. Francisco simply nods and the boy waves us through, with no Belizean dollars exchanged. The trail to the mouth of the cave is about a mile through dense forest. Snakes weave ahead of us as we traipse into and out of streams,

I WAS SEARCHING FOR AN APOCALYPSE AND CAME TO PARADISE INSTEAD.

holding on to a rope so as not to be swept away by the current. Eventually, we’re at the mouth of the cave. We don headlamps and life vests and swim in the dark clear waters. We’re the first ones in and all is silent except for the sound of our feet slushing through the underground stream. When we stop, all sound stops. When we turn off our lights, all is primordially dark. Francisco goes ahead of me, warning me of slippery rock faces and swordlike stalactites. Deep we go and deeper still until, in the furthermost chamber, he bids me remove my shoes. We scamper up the rock to a large chamber, scattered with Mayan pottery. Francisco leads me deeper into the heart of darkness, up a rickety ladder and into the sanctum sanctorum. And there I finally find what I’ve come to the jungle for. A skeleton, a victim of human sacrifice some 1,100 years ago, lies neatly on the floor before us. Her bones, covered in calcite, are cemented to the floor and sparkle as if bejeweled. Near her body is another skeleton, this one bound with cord long decayed. It too glisters under the light of our headlamps. Finally, I’ve found it. The horror, I whisper happily, the horror.

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In 1985, brewery heir Jasper Guinness and his wife, Camilla, the interior designer, bought and restored the Tuscan country estate Arniano. The rambling farm manor became synonymous with magical surroundings, great food, and glamorous company. Now their daughter Amber Guinness is running the Arniano Painting School she cofounded with artist William Roper-Curzon, showcasing the passion for cooking and entertaining she inherited from her parents. In this excerpt from her new book, A House Party in Tuscany, she writes about spring in the countryside she loves.

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here is a common misconception that Tuscany is hot year-round. Friends often ask in February: “Have you opened the pool yet?” “No,” I shiver, poking the kitchen fire, dressed in fingerless gloves and a woolly hat. From Arniano, you can drive 90 minutes and be skiing. Tuscan winters are dry and frosty—and while they can be bitingly cold, they are usually short and certainly don’t feel as interminable as those in Britain. It is because the seasons are so pronounced here that the arrival of spring is utterly joyous. It sneaks up on you. One day in March we will be making the usual trip to the wood store with the wheelbarrow to

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keep the fires going, looking at the garden’s bare branches, beautiful in their way—the next day, the sun will suddenly make a bold appearance. A tentative lunch outside will then be attempted, held under the pleached lime tree that my dad trained to fan out over the kitchen courtyard. The lime provides shade all summer, but at this time of year it is still leafless, allowing the sun to warm our faces. By degrees, the light changes. You start to notice the hum of bees and the tense buds on every bush, waiting to burst into life. The wisteria at the end of the house explodes into a wispy violet trail; my father’s favorite peonies come out in all their blousy, hot-pink glory, to last precisely one week; and the creeping Rosa ‘Cooperi’ climbing the south wall blooms with such an abundance of pale white flowers that we have to scale a ladder to

© SAGHAR SETAREH, FROM A HOUSE PARTY IN TUSCANY BY AMBER GUINNESS, COURTESY THAMES & HUDSON

ITALIAN SEASONING

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EARLY HARVEST Amber Guinness shells spring broad beans. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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people. We start thinking about the annual family gathering at Easter, when the house is packed with aunts, cousins, and friends of my mother and sister from London—as well as old friends who live locally. Meals are long and filled with laughter, usually leading to a siesta, and then a walk. Soon after the Easter weekend, we welcome our first painters, in preparation for which I start visiting the local food markets and speaking to the vendors about what produce is having a good year. “How is the pea crop? Has there been enough rain for broad beans? How long until the artichokes come to an end? Is the cavolo nero over? Do you have any of the last of the Sicilian oranges?” I start to think specifically about dishes that I know some of our returning painters like, and plan the menus accordingly.

BEAUTIFUL BOUNTY Above: Preparations for an artichoke, parmesan, and rocket salad. Opposite: A view of the valley between Arniano and nearby Montalcino.

ARTICHOKE STILL LIFE: © SAGHAR SETAREH; TUSCAN VIEW: © ROBYN LEA, BOTH FROM A HOUSE PARTY IN TUSCANY BY AMBER GUINNESS, COURTESY THAMES & HUDSON

cut it back, so that the light can get in through the high windows. Suddenly, you find yourself leaving the doors open to let in the spring air and listening out for the call of the nightingales. Walks don’t require such serious wrapping up, and towards the end of March you might spot the first wild asparagus. This is a very exciting moment. Having seen the first dark-green shoot, usually thrusting up at the base of an olive tree, your eye is then constantly scanning the ground every time you go out. What would have been a pounding hike a few weeks ago is now a slow meander, as your eyes dart about, searching for these tender green prizes, to be plucked and taken home to toss in a pan with great knobs of butter. At Arniano, spring also means the opening up of the house for the arrival of a constant flow of AVENUE MAGAZINE | MARCH—APRIL 2022

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The color of spring is green. Looking out from Arniano, everywhere is a riot of brilliant greens, so exciting to capture on canvas. Outside, it is still cool enough to enjoy walking in the hills—or to stand in the garden at an easel with no discomfort or danger of overheating, just the pleasant tingle and smell of the sun on your skin. It is a season of change, of course, and good weather is never guaranteed. We might have summer and winter all in one day. But whether inside or out, this time of year is bountiful. Excerpted from A House Party in Tuscany, by Amber Guinness. © Thames & Hudson Australia, 2022. Text © Amber Guinness 2022. Reprinted by permission of Thames & Hudson, Inc., www.thamesandhudsonusa.com 64

TABLE SETTING: © SAGHAR SETAREH; GARDEN: © ROBYN LEA; INTERIOR: © ROBYN LEA, ALL FROM A HOUSE PARTY IN TUSCANY BY AMBER GUINNESS, COURTESY THAMES & HUDSON

HOW SWEET IT IS Arniano is a feast indoors and out, where Guinness entertains in a series of garden rooms.

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BORN THE DAUGHTER OF A PRINCESS AND A WEALTHY FASHION MANUFACTURER IN NEW YORK, CHRISTINA OXENBERG GREW UP AMONG EUROPEAN AND HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY, JETTING BETWEEN THE WORLD’S MOST GLAMOROUS LOCALES. BUT BY AGE 17 SHE HAD RETURNED TO THE CITY, PENNILESS AND ESTRANGED FROM HER FAMILY.

UNACCOMPANIED

MINOR

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GUTTER CREDITS PORTRAIT BY STEFFEN TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK; THALEMANN

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MY MOTHER was born in a palace in Belgrade in 1936 as a princess of the land of Yugoslavia. She was the daughter of the then ruling Prince Regent Paul of Yugoslavia and Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, a sister of Marina, Duchess of Kent. They were related to all the royal families of Europe. My mother has Prince Charles as a second cousin, and the queen of England’s late husband, Philip, was born a Greek prince and first cousin of my grandmother Olga. This is a huge and yet tight-knit family. As I grew up in London, we were visited by many titled royal relatives, including my mother’s Kent cousins and Princess Alexandra. My mother has taken pains to be far from a traditional princess. Throughout my childhood, I remember her mocking anyone who she thought wore “sensible heels,” as she liked to say, or “tweeds,” as if this signified a type she would never deign to be. My mother’s personality is vivid and yet indecipherable, all at once. She was the rebel. She would break any of the rules. To start with, in 1961 she married an American whose name for legal reasons I cannot recall. They had two daughters, my sister Catherine and myself. As was the case with most marriages about to fall apart, my parents allegedly did not see eye to eye, and that is putting it mildly. Once they divorced, my mother moved to London when I was two and Catherine was three. My mother eventually remarried a Brit who was born in Peru. He moved into our family house in Chelsea. His job required that we spend a year in Madrid. I attended a school there with classes only in Spanish and French, which was a challenge. And on weekends we all went to play with our cousins, the Spanish royal family, Juanito 68

(the future King Juan Carlos), Sophie (later Queen Sofia), and their kids, with whom Catherine and I spent most of our time in the playroom accompanied by nannies. The Zarzuela Palace includes stables with giant prancing horses, which would be brought out to entertain us. Holidays were often with my grandparents in their villa called Pratolino, near Florence. A truly magnificent gem with a park for a garden and with statues so tall and broad there were stairs inside to walk up and view the world from. Time spent with my grandparents was always pleasant. My grandfather played the piano, mostly Chopin. He would take us grandchildren on walks, always with his cane and in a suit and tie, and tell us funny and scary stories. And my grandmother, always finding ways to entertain us, would tell us to sit on the oversize sofa in the ballroom. She would tell us it was a ship, and she would read to us. We adored her. Meals were fantastically formal, with gloved servants and bells to summon them, and no one ever misbehaved. It would not have occurred to us or even appealed. We respected them and we loved them. They brought us joy and we only wanted to return the favor. In later years we might convene for lunch or tea at my grandparents’ house in Paris. Equally, the grandparents frequently traveled over to London for visits. They stayed at Kensington Palace or Claridge’s; Juanito and Sophie, or Tino and Anne-Marie (the exiled king and queen of Greece), were often in our house for tea. That this unusual life, surrounded by kings and queens, some on thrones and some in exile, was like a chapter from Voltaire’s Candide was lost on me at the time. Now it makes me smile: another time, another era.

THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG WOMAN Previous page: Christina Oxenberg photographed in her New York apartment in 1997. Above: The future King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain at a 1971 birthday party in the Zarzuela Palace for their daughter, the Infanta Cristina.

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MANUEL LITRAN/PARIS MATCH/GETTY IMAGES

FLAK JACKETS Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman wear Richard James camouflage suits in character as Washington fixers for Wag the Dog.

We lived with my mother and her English husband in Madrid for one year and then in New York City. When my mother suspected him of philandering, she did what she knew best. She kicked out my stepfather, still legally her husband, and moved in with actor Richard Burton, to whom she became engaged in October 1974. Yes, engaged while still married. I learned of this engagement over the radio. I have learned most of what my family gets up to via the media. Richard moved into our Chelsea home, and for holidays we flew in his private plane, sometimes to Rome but mostly to his house near Lake Geneva in Switzerland. In the winter of 1974–75, my mother, Richard, and the Oxenberg tribe all took rooms at the same inn at Verbier and days were devoted to skiing. Richard, under contract with some movie studio, was not allowed to damage himself, and by chance I had hurt my foot, which left me on crutches and decidedly off the ski slopes. I spent my days with Richard Burton playing hangman. My mother had given me instructions to stop him from drinking, and all I could come up with was a way to slow him from taking sips. He would reach for the stem of his wineglass and I would

blurt out a letter so he would have to put down the glass to write it. But my efforts were in vain because Richard would pick up the wineglass and down the contents in a gulp. For lunch we would carefully pick our way over crushed and glittering snow to the gondola and join the sportif side of the group for lunch at the top of the mountain at some lovely chalet of a restaurant where you sit outdoors if the sun was shining. After lunch the athletes would ski down the mountain, and Richard and I would ride the gondola back to the lodge and the fireside, returning to our games of hangman, and his wine. He was always lovely with me, friendly and sweet. He told me he hated being an actor. He said it was an idiotic job. Richard had always hoped to be an English professor and would frequently launch into passages he’d memorized from all sorts of literature, way over my head. But I remember his delicious voice and enveloping delivery. We had fun with all those hours we filled. I understood he was famous, but so were most people I was introduced to. It was not interesting to me that he was an actor, only that he was stupendously charming, and it helped that he understood and liked children. That a half-moon of paparazzi lived literally camped outside our front door at the MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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MY MOTHER KICKED OUT MY STEPFATHER AND MOVED IN ACTOR RICHARD BURTON, TO WHOM SHE BECAME ENGAGED IN OCTOBER 1974.

Chelsea house became completely normal. That a balloon of cameramen, walking backwards, captured our every move was perfectly normal and not at all scary; if anything, we played pranks on them. But on occasion, if Richard was in a bad mood, he might punch one of them in the face and leave them stumbling into a gutter, camera shattered to smithereens. Even this violence did not bother me; if anything I found it funny. It was all merely par for the course. Richard would eventually leave my mother, and she went on to squire many others around, as was reported on regularly by The Daily Mail, which is how I knew. I did not meet all these paramours, but rather only the serious boyfriends, and there were quite a few. I must say I liked them all. One of them bought me a record player, which was my greatest treasure of all time. Another bought me a set of suitcases I craved. Yet another bought me a gorgeous watch. It was all material things, and they worked just fine in place of what might be considered a healthier relationship. I liked these de facto dads: sometimes you have to take what is offered rather than pine for more. While this revolving door of paternal figures might have been a glaringly bad thing in principle, I was extremely fortunate the men in question were a stellar bunch. From each I learned something and felt loved and cared for. When they moved on I wanted to stay in touch, and with some I did. But my mother did not like this and called me a traitor. That winter holiday in Verbier was an idyllic time, even with its obvious stumbling blocks of too many parental figures and a lot of bickering. But these problems, if problems at all, were normal sized. After the holidays and back in London at home in Chelsea, I was likely thinking of getting ready to return to Hatherop Castle, my boarding school in Oxfordshire. But what I could not know was that my childhood days were about to come to a screeching halt and my life, as I knew it, went off the tracks.

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or whatever reason, when I was 15 in the summer of 1978, my mother arranged for me to attend a different day school in the city of Oxford, a place called Beechlawn. The good people of Oxford were in the habit of renting single bedrooms in their own homes, and I was placed in one such setup. I rather loved it, as the wife of the household baked chocolate cakes and left them out in her kitchen so I could sneak in at night and carve the thinnest slices to steal. I loved those first weeks at Oxford. The town itself, which I was welcome to roam around without restrictions, was achingly gorgeous. Students milled about, all young and fun, 70

the September weather was clement, and I felt free and independent. I was always the shy type and not the least interested in boys, beyond private crushes. But I was very happy to make friends with the other girls at Beechlawn, and we would all meet up in the lounge room and chatter away. However, this idyll would be brought to an abrupt end. Halfway through that first semester, I rode the train to London to go home for a weekend. For one thing, the weather was cooling and I wanted my winter coat. I walked from Paddington train station and made my way to my mother’s house on King’s Road. For the first time in my life, I had my own front door key, and only as of quite recently; for some reason, this was highly significant to me, as if it marked a major milestone in my development, as if I had earned it. I let myself in through the patio gate, walked to the glossy black front door with its brass knocker, and put my key in the door. Once inside, everything was different. There were children playing on the floor, none of whom I recognized. But my mother had regularly moved strangers in throughout the 14 years we had lived there; my room was also regularly repainted, moved from floor to floor, with her friends living with us sometimes for years at a stretch. So I was not entirely put out by what I saw, but I was on alert. A lady, tall and slim with a blouse and a skirt that reached her knees, appeared at the top of the stairs, and our gazes locked as she began to descend. I did not know who she was. She was not smiling, and she kept coming, slowly, down the stairs until she was standing next to me and I noticed how tall she was. “Who are you?” she said sternly, and I replied asking where my mother was. “Are you Elizabeth’s daughter?” she pressed on. “Where is she?” I repeated, feeling slightly edgy. “Don’t you know?” the lady said, a nauseous feeling enveloping me. “Your mother moved to America three months ago.” Still, I said nothing. “We bought the house and your mother is gone.” I was struggling to process this information and asked the lady if I could get my things, thinking of my winter coat. “There are no things,” the lady said. “We live here now.” I was stunned. I felt a sickness rising, and as I fiddled nervously with the front door key, still in my hand, I asked the lady how I should contact my mother. She told me she had no idea. There was no phone number, no contact information, only the fact that she had sold up and moved to America. My mind was swirling, grasping for some crumb of comfort, something to reassure me that I would survive this. I asked the lady, “Do I have to give you this key?” The answer was yes, and I went into a third-person trance, watching my hand as it moved toward her and relinquished this small token of empowerment. I have never been inside that house again. I went out

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY The author’s mother became engaged to Richard Burton in 1974, between his two marriages to Elizabeth Taylor.

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ROYAL RELATIVES Above: Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark was the author’s grandmother; left: Britain’s Prince Charles (here accompanied by the late Queen Mother) is a second cousin.

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PRINCE CHARLES AND QUEEN MOTHER: TIM GRAHAM PHOTO LIBRARY/GETTY IMAGES; PRINCESS OLGA: MCCOOL/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

MY GRANDMOTHER, PRINCESS OLGA, ASKED HITLER ONE EVENING AT DINNER WHY HE HAD NEVER MARRIED.

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into the chilly early evening and walked over to the house of a friend. But it was closed and no one was there so I walked on, to Kensington, to another friend’s home, where I had to explain that I was without a place to stay that night. I tracked my mother down, making phone calls from my friend’s house, and for three days in a row when I got through to her on the phone, she simply said, “Darling, I’m running out to a dinner party. Please promise to call me tomorrow,” and hung up on me. On the third day, I took a train back to Oxford and resumed my school life, with no winter coat. Once the semester ended, I was flown to America for the winter holidays to stay with my father and stepmother, his fourth wife, in New York City. My mother was living there also with her new boyfriend, but he apparently did not like children, so I could only visit when he was not home. I did visit and I did ask why she failed to mention she had moved to another country. She replied, “Oh darling, I didn’t think it would interest you.” And that is all we have ever said about the matter.

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or the Christmas holiday, which would include my 16th birthday, I went with my father and his wife to their Florida house. However, in a matter of days my father was unhappy with me. This was his way behind closed doors; there was always something that caught his ire. In this case I was punished for something absurd like reading books that were an assignment from school instead of watching him play tennis, and he locked me in my bedroom and told me I was not allowed to use the phone. After a few days of this craziness, I called Jeanne, a friend of my mother’s who had lived with us in the King’s Road house and was now living up the road from my father’s Florida house. She told me to put my things together, and she came and took me home with her. I left a note explaining everything before I went, but that evening my father showed up at Jeanne’s house in a fit of rage. I ran up the stairs and hid on the landing, clutching the banister, listening as Jeanne answered the door below. For the first time in my life I started trembling. It is a condition that is still with me to this day: when I am frightened, I shake, visibly. My nervous system must have been taking a beating. My father did not enter Jeanne’s house; he just stood at the open doorway and screamed at Jeanne, “She’s yours now! I don’t want her. You can pay her school bills. She’s your responsibility!” And then he drove away in his Cadillac. After a week or so, Jeanne did not exactly know what to do with me. Eventually it was decided I should return to England. Wasn’t I attending school somewhere? She bought my plane ticket, and I was stung with humiliation as she told me this was a fearful expense. I felt like a burden and was determined to repay this amount. Back in England I got myself to Oxford, where the school secretary told me the bills had not been paid and I was in effect not a student there anymore. I am sure they took note of the look of panic on my face. What was I supposed to do? The headmistress and the secretary had never dealt with such an issue, and while I had nowhere to live, they said I could attend classes. One student, named Kate, rented a room from a farmer at the top of Headington Hill. She secreted me into a garden shed with molding furniture, no heat, no electricity, and no hot water. I spent my nights sleeping curled up in a rotting armchair, all the way through the English winter. It was cold, and I cried myself to sleep at night. My teachers all fed me when I went to their houses for classes, and I took odd jobs, as I had not one penny to my name. I also sold my few possessions, including the record player bought for me by one of my mother’s boyfriends, and all my records. I sent that money to Jeanne to repay her for the plane ticket as I felt responsible. I was lucky and

my schoolmates shared their sandwiches with me. Everyone pitched in. I wrote long, plaintive tear-smattered letters to my parents, but none were replied to. I begged but I got nowhere. Thankfully, during the Easter break my grandmother Princess Olga inquired as to where the heck I was and flew me to Paris to stay with her. From a cold shed to the 16th arrondissement with a butler, a maid, a chef, and my divine maternal grandmother. She got the truth out of me about how I had been living, and she wrote my father a letter. For this he would punish me. She also took me to a doctor, where I was diagnosed with depression and given a squadron of medications to take. Every day I spent with my grandmother was a delight. We took the bus and went shopping. We played cards in her small informal sitting room where the television was and where we took afternoon tea. She showed me her photo albums of her Russian Romanov royal relatives back in the day before the Russian Revolution and they were marvelous. Everyone dressed up formally and in rooms of gold or on lawns of emerald. She played with her cousins, including one of her favorites, the young Tsarevich Alexei. This was a perfect moment before the deluge of blood that would be spilled. My grandmother left out those parts of the story. She never complained or whined about the many disruptions she had experienced in her own childhood. Times of exile and penury balanced with the need to find a suitable husband and make a life for herself. She did, however, tell me about a state visit she had made to Germany with my grandfather, at Winston Churchill’s urging, to meet with Adolf Hitler. She had many tidbits to impart and I was fascinated. For example, she asked Hitler one evening at dinner why he had never married, and his reply was he did not have time as he was on a “mission from God.” The summer semester school bill was paid because my grandmother embarrassed my father into doing it, but again no housing had been arranged, and at this point the school secretary, a mother herself, could not take it any longer and moved me into her own home. She was an angel. She taught me how to make a quiche and then sold slices from her office desk to anyone who ventured in to see her, and at the end of each day she had coins for me so I was no longer penniless. However, when the summer holidays came around, I was flown to America, and my mother and father ranted at me for about an hour, telling me I was a waste of money scholastically and they would no longer pay for my schooling. “Don’t even think of college!” they laughed at me. I never spoke a word in response, nor did they pose a single question. I was to be sent to live with an older half brother in Colorado. I was warned not to cause any trouble as it was the “end of the line” for me, or so they put it. That is how they spoke. No one asked how or where I had lived for the past six months. I was 16 and my heart was completely broken. It took me a long time to repair the worst of the damage inflicted by my childhood, to build a life where I felt largely happy and had hope for the future. When in Colorado, I took a job in a fast-food restaurant and finagled my way into the local high school so I could at least finish my education. I got lucky and made some friends and they helped me to decompress. I was far from light and breezy, but they came to my aid and I learned from them. I lived with that half brother for a year before moving to New York City, aged 17, and getting an apartment, two jobs, and a cat. Here, my life as an independent grownup began in earnest. Adapted by the author from her ebook Trash: Encounters with Ghislaine Maxwell, available on Amazon Kindle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author’s mother has not endorsed Oxenberg’s account of her upbringing and family life. She said via email: “Christina is very clever, a good writer, and brilliant at marketing. She knows how to combine imagination with facts as this way she promotes her blogs and stories.” MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Sir Mick of the MoorS: Mick Jagger at Eothen, Andy Warhol’s estate just east of Montauk Village, Spring, 1975.

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the

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“Down

by

ocean”

RoLLing

StoneS in Montauk,

In 1975, the Rolling Stones invaded Montauk for five surreal weeks and helped mark the village as a haven for chic outsiders. Their epic ballad “Memory Motel” helps tell the tale. by

Christopher Lawrence

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1975

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t’s Mick Jagger on grand piano for the tender opening notes of 1975’s “Memory Motel,” his ode to a girl, to a damp and windy Montauk spring, and to life on the road. Keith Richards arrives a few moments later, not on guitar, but on an electric piano. And when sideman Billy Preston joins them on a string synthesizer, it’s clear that the Rolling Stones are a long way from the adolescent sneer of “Satisfaction” or the louche swagger of “Tumbling Dice.” This is a slightly older man’s song, more vulnerable and knowing. “Hannah, honey” Jagger sings wearily, “was a peachy kind of girl…” By some accounts—no surprise that they are hazy—the music was floating around in some form during recording sessions held in Munich in late winter, 1975. But the song’s lyrics and its emotional core emerged only in April and May after the Stones had picked up and moved their circus to east of the then-genteel Hamptons, beyond Montauk Village and nearer the lighthouse built originally at George Washington’s direction in 1792. “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band” had nearly a decade-and-a-half of mayhem behind it by 1975, and it was a group forced by its UK tax-exile status to work on the run. Since 1971, the Stones had rehearsed and recorded on the French Riviera, in Switzerland, Los Angeles and in Jamaica, as well as Rotterdam and Munich. But New York had been a special destination since 1972 when, during their blockbuster American tour, the band became a rowdy diversion for the city’s most fashionable circles. Andy Warhol, Lee Radziwill, Truman Capote, Ahmet Ertegun and photographer/adventurer/legendary ladies’ man Peter Beard ventured out on the Stones’ road to destinations like Dallas and Kansas City. It was Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic” at its zenith. And after the shows wrapped up at Madison Square Garden, Mick and Bianca Jagger took their holiday with Princess Radziwill at Eothen, the sprawling and very private Montauk estate owned by Warhol in partnership with the filmmaker Paul Morrissey. The seaside paradise (Eothen is “at first light” in Greek) made an impression. And so it was that Jagger returned with his bandmates three years later: In a cluster of old hunting cabins perched above the sea, the Stones hid from the rest of the world for five weeks as they rehearsed for the coming summer’s massive 1975 Tour of The Americas. The windswept Montauk of fishermen and carpenters was at the time hosting its first few surfers. And artists. And celebrities. Warhol and Radziwill (sometimes accompanied by her sister, Jackie Onassis). Richard Avedon and Peter Beard and Candice Bergen. Truman Capote (over from Sagaponack) and Lauren Hutton. And later, Edward Albee, Julian Schnabel and Ralph Lauren. When their 2014 descendants make their way to Ditch Plains and the Point this summer, they’ll be tapping into a vibe that the Stones helped create and exemplify four decades ago. Montauk’s weathered sea dogs and the haute bohemians who love them. It’s a textured glamour that is these days reaching a new apogee. Montauk is again in high season, a beacon of hip. We’re lucky that the Stones left it such a graceful anthem. Jagger’s knack for a sly lyric is at its best in “Memory Motel” as he starts to recount the story of “Hannah” and their brief liaison. “We spent a lonely night at the Memory Motel,” he sings. It’s an elegant sketch of the isolation within a passing affair, and of the sometimes-desolate feel of the seaside village. The eponymous motel sits to this day at the head of Montauk’s commercial strip. The 1926 building is battered and worn; it’s reputed to have done its patriotic World War II duty as a bordello serving the nearby air and naval installations then maintaining a lookout for German U-Boats. By the time the Stones came to town, the place was being run by two sisters, both heavyset and aging, who believed that wearing their bikinis at all times was a draw for male patrons. The funky barroom still has some cheap

it’S a Vibe that the

StoneS heLPeD CReate

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anD eXeMPLiFy FouR

DeCaDeS ago: Montauk’S

WeatheReD Sea DogS anD the haute boheMianS

Who LoVe theM.

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“She DroVe A Pick-UP trUck . . .”: At left, the truck driven “a mile or two” to Montauk from Taos, NM—and straight into Jagger’s lyric for “Memory Motel.” At right, “Hannah . . . a peachy kind of girl” in Montauk, ca. 1975.

MONTAUK, 1975

WaRhoL aSSoCiate

VinCent FReMont StooD in the SeaSiDe MiSt anD LiSteneD to the StoneS

Stones memorabilia—none of it relating to the song or to the 1976 Black and Blue album—scattered across walls painted black. And the oft-told tale that the song came about in some boozy Mick n’ Keith singalong at the Memory’s long-gone piano is pure canard. The Stones wandered in looking for a hard-to-find pool table, but were quickly shown the door lest their presence damage the place’s sterling reputation. Jagger got a line out of the indignity, anyway. Mick’s “lonely nights at the Memory Motel” are in the art, not the life. “Hannah” herself (not her real name) is a different matter. I found her quite by accident a few years ago. She’s still out East, but has long since decamped for the Madison Avenue-by-thesea splendor of East Hampton. She didn’t require a whole lot of poetic license from Mick. The period photo she showed me over a recent lunch has that glow that’s completely specific to Ivory Girl 1970s blondes. Jagger’s lyric nods to her hazel eyes, and she’s “a honey of a girl” to this day. Her first meeting with the singer came “down by the ocean” at Eothen. Hannah was walking her dogs on the beach below the compound when she cut across the property to reach the long, sandy private road that threaded out toward her cabin at the Deep Hollow horse ranch. It had just started to rain when Mick pulled up slowly in a vast sedan, a Lowenbrau wedged between his legs. At first she demurred, but as he drove away—even more slowly, to let her consider it—she thought, “What am I, crazy?” and ran to the car. Back at her place, things, ahem, took off. It was, after all, 1975. The affair “just felt so easy and natural,” she told me. The world’s biggest rock star facing the world’s biggest tour made every last move seem effortless. “I was breakfast for him!” she laughs. “But I never, ever, felt dirty or used.” Hannah’s still impressed: “He was just so cool and laid-back. They all were.” Even back in the village, the local code of rugged individualism worked for the band. “No one made a big deal about the Stones because they didn’t make a big deal. Montauk gave them their space.”

Do an aChing VeRSion

oF “WiLD hoRSeS.” “that WaS, you knoW. . .

PRetty gooD.”

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JULY 2014

“BeeN teN thoUSAND MiLeS, BeeN iN fifteeN StAteS”: The Rolling Stones at Eothen, Montauk, NY, just prior to the launch of their 1975 Tour of the Americas. Left to right: Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ron Wood, Mick Jagger, touring percussionist Ollie Brown and Keith Richards.

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the iMPoSSibLy ChiC

bianCa JaggeR

Sat in the CoRneR oF the ShagWong anD LeaRneD hoW

to oPen CLaMS.

f there’s a clubhouse at the heart of Montauk’s “Wild East” culture, it’s Jimmy Hewitt’s Shagwong Bar (primary) and Restaurant (very secondary) in the middle of town. Hewitt has by now owned the place for 45 years and he’s got the weathered mug to prove it. While running the saloon by night, he used to procure Bluefish blood (which doesn’t turn brown, but stays a deep, rich red) for Halston to use in hand-dyeing his coveted and très cher curtains. Paul Simon, Robert De Niro and Elizabeth Taylor have hoisted drinks with the fishermen at the bar over the years, and celebrity status has never conferred the same clout and distance it does elsewhere. The first time Jagger came by, he had a strange notion to bring his own bottle. “I kicked him out,” Hewitt told me. “I didn’t know who the fuck he was.” But the relationship was mended, and Mick was in the bar often. Local artist Noel Arikian remembers the singer arriving in “a copper-colored Mercedes with English plates.” Altered states and culture shock may have been in play: Jagger drove the car in from the east and slid into a spot immediately in front of the gin mill—convenient, but pointed into traffic on the Imperial “wrong side of the road.” The impossibly chic Bianca Jagger had a smoother run in the Shagwong. She sat in the corner, where she learned how to open clams during the summer of 1972, a little more than a year into her ill-fated marriage to Mick. In that spring of ’75, the singer was arriving with Hannah, sometimes by bicycle, sometimes in the battered turquoise truck that she had driven into town from Taos, New Mexico. “She drove a pick-up truck,” goes the song. “Painted green and blue. The tires were wearin’ thin. She turned a mile or two.”

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ack at Eothen, film producer and Warhol confidant Vincent Fremont served as the artist’s emissary and trouble-shooter for the Stones’ rehearsals. Fremont had circulated within the overlapping Stones and Warhol orbits for a number of years since 1972, and had passed seaside afternoons with Mick, Bianca and Catherine Deneuve. “All the Europeans who visited loved the place,” he told me. “The lawns and grasses reminded them of moors, I think.” But the rich social history didn’t spare him the singer’s tough business approach. Jagger flatly declared the estate’s proposed rental fee “a rip-off ” before a deal was finally hammered out. Later, as the Stones’ workweeks unfolded, Fremont oversaw the security detail that eventually had to be put in place. The Stones, who are these days chronicled moment-by-moment on Facebook, had run into New York and pulled a memorable pre-tour publicity coup by performing “Brown Sugar” while on a flatbed truck rolling down Fifth Avenue. As anticipation for the Tour of the Americas built, New York rock stations spread word of the Montauk residency, spurring obsessed fans to make the three-hour expedition east. Fremont’s second security brief involved keeping the Eothen groundskeepers safe from Keith by delaying their noisy work until four in the afternoon, when the Stones finally arose for the coming night’s work. “They made the most god-awful racket I ever heard,” Jimmy Hewitt exclaimed when I asked about his privileged audiences with the band at work. Stones sessions and rehearsals have for decades had a lore unto themselves in which observers are stunned by how absolutely dreadful the band is—right up to that magic moment when it’s not. I visited the compound a couple of times in the mid-2000s and it still boggles my mind to think about the musicians setting up on the stone floors of Eothen’s main hall, bashing the music into road-worthiness. Hannah remembered coming in off the beach and spending several afternoons smoking pot before repairing to the hall’s far corners for discreet visits with Mick as band members and roadies began to drift through the large darkened space. But with all the chaos and challenges of the setting, the work got done. “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band” found itself once again. Vincent Fremont, for whom there were so many logistical and interpersonal challenges, remembered standing out in the seaside mist and listening to the Stones do an aching version of “Wild Horses.” “That was, you know…pretty good,” he told me with a laugh. “Memory Motel” the song eventually shifts locations out of Montauk and onto the road. Not long before the band had “to fly today on down to Baton Rouge” and opening night of the Tour of the Americas, Hannah brought Mick and Keith over to see the horses at Deep Hollow Ranch, not far from Eothen. “It was a rodeo!” she told me with a laugh. “There were maybe eight people there. Just another quiet night in Montauk.” Richards, who had grown up working-poor in drab post-war Britain, had spent his entire childhood dressed as Roy Rogers and dreaming of an America that he saw in the cinema. But that spring evening, he was dressed for the rococo middle 1970s. Keith wandered around the ranch, among riders and spectators, over hay and manure, positively resplendent in a three-piece pink satin suit. The Rolling Stones had gotten what they had needed from the town before leaving it with stories to tell and a song to be sung: “Just a memory . . . of a love that used to be.” ✦

AVENUE ARCHIVES

STONES TAK E OVER MONT AUK

the Montauk CoDe oF RuggeD inDiViDuaLiSM WoRkeD FoR the banD. “no one MaDe a big DeaL

about the StoneS beCauSe they DiDn’t

Montauk gaVe theM theiR SPaCe.”

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Make a big DeaL.

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NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

The Singer Owing Machine

Soigné Paris Singer was instrumental in the development of Palm Beach a century ago and enjoys a rehabilitated reputation today. But as Ambrose McGaffney discovered, the sewingmachine heir dropped more than a few stitches along the way

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ARNOLD GENTHE/ALAMY

“H

e was the finest-looking man I ever saw; six feet, three or four, straight as a die, with a fine figure. At this time, he was 50 and looked 40.” That’s Addison Mizner, the legendary Palm Beach architect, on another of the island’s founding figures, Paris Eugene Singer—whose legacy can be felt in the elegant Everglades Club, which he began building in 1918, and on Singer Island, which is named for him. His life was every bit as colorful as the South Florida community that still celebrates him today. Singer was the 22nd of 24 children born to Isaac Singer, the sewing machine tycoon. Perhaps after so many children, papa simply ran out of ideas for what to call them—Paris was named after the French city of his birth in 1867. (When his father died eight years later, he divided his $13 million fortune among the 20 surviving heirs—with one particularly unfavored son, who taken his mother’s side during a nasty divorce, getting just $500.) Paris Singer’s connection to Palm Beach began during a visit when he was 33. By that stage he had already known tragedy: a son he had out of wedlock with the famous dancer Isadora Duncan drowned in 1913 in the Seine at the age of three. (Duncan’s two other children also died young; she herself perished in 1927 when the long silk scarf she was wearing in an open car became entangled in the wheel and broke her neck.)

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STATE ARCHIVES OF FLORIDA /FLORIDA MEMORY/ALAMY

LAST TANGO WITH PARIS Opposite: Paris Singer with his onetime flame and baby mama Isadora Duncan, the famous dancer; right: the handsome Everglades Club is his lasting monument in Palm Beach.

“In 1920, he visited Palm Beach and met Addison Mizner,” according to Singer Island’s municipal website. “He agreed to pay the architect a $6,000 a year retainer for life if his work was confined exclusively to the Palm Beach area. With Mizner, he created the Palm Beach we know today with its Spanish architecture, picturesque streets and exclusive shops.” An early joint venture between the two was the ill-fated Blue Heron hotel, an expensive white elephant that it was imagined would be connected to the mainland via cable cars. But construction was scuttled by the combination of a hurricane in 1926 and the stock market crash in 1929, earning the hotel the nickname “Singer’s Folly,” and leaving an eyesore husk finally torn down in 1940. (The Hilton Hotel occupies the site today.) For all his enduring fame as an architect, Mizner did not meet much financial success as a real estate developer. His failed development of Boca Raton in 1926 personally bankrupted him and lost plenty of other people money as well. But it was financial entanglement with the building that would become the Everglades Club that ended his friendship with Singer. “Paris was a strange, silent man, who loved to look on but hard to talk to unless you got him on his own subjects,” Mizner said of his onetime friend. “At this time it was hospital work.” The Mizner-designed building on Worth Avenue that would become the Everglades Club was originally conceived in 1918 as the Touchstone Convalescent Club, a hospital for afflicted Great War veterans. Mizner described his

“PARIS WAS A STRANGE, SILENT MAN, WHO LOVED TO LOOK ON BUT HARD TO TALK TO UNLESS YOU GOT HIM ON HIS OWN SUBJECTS.” ADDISON MIZNER

vision for the building as “something religious—a nunnery, with a chapel…with great cool cloisters and a court of oranges.” Singer had already built three hospitals in France, but when the war ended and no more convalescing troops were to be had, the premises were repurposed as a private club. “Its high-WASP culture has included Palm Beach’s most storied names: Vanderbilt, Phipps, Dodge, Pillsbury, Hutton and Post (as in E.F. and Marjorie Merriweather), Pulitzer and Sanford,” the Palm Beach Post wrote in 2011, while noting the club’s ignominious reputation of allegedly excluding Black and Jewish members. “The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were guests at the Everglades Club, as was ‘poor little rich girl’ Barbara Hutton, the niece of Marjorie

Merriweather Post. Although not members of the club, the Kennedy family attended events there. JFK and Jackie were among the guests at a 1957 Everglades Club ball.” But all that glittering success was still in the future when, with Singer unable to service his debt, the Everglades Club went into receivership in 1927. His friendship with Mizner crumbled under the financial pressure, and he was arrested the following year on charges of real estate fraud. Although the charges were dismissed, a shamed Singer left the enchanted island, never to return. He lived with his wife and former nurse, Joan Balsh, in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France, before dying in London in 1932. It turns out, you don’t always have Paris. MARCH—APRIL 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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ON THE

Kelly Killoren Bensimon

HIGH BAR

The preview party for Peakaboo, a 101st-floor lounge in Hudson Yards.

Gillian Miniter

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Zachary Weiss

PHOTOS BY BFA

Lilah Ramzi and Ivy Getty

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Milly Solomon and Helen “Jeanne” Nicastri

Wes Gordon and Roopal Patel

GORDON OF DELIGHTS

Carolina Herrera designer Wes Gordon and Saks Fifth Avenue held a luncheon at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach.

PHOTOS BY GUTTER CAPEHART CREDITS PHOTOGRAPHY TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

Tarra Pressey and Lou Ella Jordan

Lauriston Segerson and Katherine Lande

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Sarah Wetenhall and Daphne Oz

SPRING 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Danielle Brooks, Alicia Silverstone, Susan Sarandon, Hannah Waddignham, Drew Barrymore, and Anna Chlumsky

FRONT ROW FOREVER

ROWAN BLANCHARD: GETTY IMAGES; ALL OTHERS: BFA

New York Fashion Week celebrations at PatBO, Christian Siriano, Rodarte, and Batsheva.

Candace Bushnell

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Laura Jung and Chriselle Lim

Fern Mallis and Freddy Leiba

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Olivia Palermo and Nicky Hilton Rothschild

Coco Bassey

Hari Nef, Molly Ringwald, and Adele Gianopoulos

Tina Leung

Alexei Hay

Rowan Blanchard

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Maye Musk

Amy Fine Collins and Batsheva Hay

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PREP-A-PORTER

Le Bilboquet Palm Beach hosted a dinner in honor of Nick Mele and Stacey Leuliette, cochairs of the Young Friends of Peggy Adams.

PHOTOS BY NICK MELE

Sue Jin Seth, Hollis Bradley Pica, Devon McCready, Stacey Leuliette, and Michael Gregson Reinert

The bartender working his magic

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Kent Anderson, Nick Mele, and Austin Bryan

Tristan Dyer

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SOCIAL SKILLS

The Ski Vacation What you’ll see: A glut of flush-faced, brightly garbed people taking mountaintop selfies in flashy chrome Oakleys. Perhaps you’re a #familythatskistogether (at least for one run, anyway…), or back at your #happyplace as you embrace your hubby with an adrenaline rush that you haven’t felt since 2019. At 9,000 feet above sea level, even the most persnickety of posters is bound to let loose. Must be that mountain air! What you won’t see: The schlep. Until you’ve shadowed your kids in slick ski boots while balancing icy poles, wet clothing, and your slipped lumbar disc, you’ve never experienced the true reason that G-d created après-ski.

The Tropical Paradise What you’ll see: Brightly bikinied bodies so relaxed that they can’t be bothered to rise for a picture; I mean, why be vertical? You happy fools at Cloud Nine can’t feel your toes, but feel free to look at mine. Don’t they sparkle against the backdrop of bronzed skin, white sand, and a turquoise ocean? What you won’t see: Sunburns, jellyfish, bad internet service, eviscerating boredom, and pool evacuations because some dolt can’t close a swimmie.

The Time-Zone-Change Vacation

Spring Awakening Your YOLO is someone else’s FOMO, but it doesn’t happen by itself. Tara Rosenblum offers a field guide to spring break competitive Instagramming.

What you’ll see: Posts starting a day before school even lets out. After all, this is a global endeavor! Whether Marrakesh or Malaysia, your feed will feature images of jet-setters touring ruins or shaking hands with a rare orangutan. Say “hi” to unique experiences, coming soon to an IMAX near you! This is parenting. This is valuable exposure. This is material for a college essay. What you won’t see: Meltdowns; diarrhea; panicked parents who’ve misplaced the passports; not letting your kids five feet out of your sight.

The Palm Beach Getaway What you’ll see: Blue skies, pink homes, and gingham-clad couples fresh off the golf course, sharing gelato at Sant Ambroeus while lamenting that they aren’t primary residents. #whyNYC? What you won’t see: Lines at the bridge. Lines at Sprinkles. Lines on anyone’s forehead.

What you won’t see: The kids making endless TikToks with the delivery dude from Chip City.

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What you’ll see: Nothing, as it takes 72 hours post-surgery for swelling to subside. Then, selfies at hot-ticket shows and sceney restaurants, until you realize that you can’t bear being around people who choose to vacation in NYC.

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

The Staycation

AVENUE MAGAZINE | MARCH—APRIL 2022

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SCAN FOR FULL LISTING

Ocean Views in Sagaponack Gary R. DePersia Licensed A s sociate Real Es t ate Broker m 516.380.0538 | gdp@corcor an.com

14,000 SF Pondfront Estate

Sagaponack. With elements of scale and architecture that could not be reproduced in this location again, a beautifully landscaped acre on Fairfield Pond plays host to a magnificent 14,000 SF, 8-bedroom modern estate recently completed near the ocean in Sagaponack. Masterfully scripted by architect Brian O’Keefe, the drama immediately unfolds as a marble waterfall wall welcomes all into a 9,000 SF contemporary sanctuary of wood and stone that reveals the expansive living room warmed by a fireplace. The modern Poliform designed kitchen anchors the center of the residence that segues into both the sumptuous fireplace family room as well as the formal dining room enhanced by a butler’s pantry. A bedroom suite overlooking both pool and pond complete this first floor. Upstairs the master wing, offering luxurious Onyx clad bath and dual closets shares ocean views and a balcony with 4 additional bedrooms with baths ensuite and an office. The 4,600 SF roof deck, an amenity no longer permitted, offers bar, multiple seating area and incredible views out to the Atlantic and neighboring farm fields. An elevator descend to the 5,000+ SF lower level which includes screening room, recreational area, billiards room with bar, wine cellar, 2 staff suites and an entire wellness center with gym and spa that includes steam, sauna, hot tub, ice plunge and massage room. Outside the covered patio with extensive built-in kitchen and comfortable seating overlooks the 53’ heated pool and adjacent firepit. Elaborate landscaping by Edmund D. Hollander Design creates a verdant tableau while also forming a natural wall from neighboring properties. Stunningly compelling, this irreplaceable seaside estate awaits. Exclusive. $24.5M WEB# 870429 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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