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MARTIN AMIS shares the inside story


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PRINTER: CLEAN UP THE SILO

CONTENTS SEPT.–OCT . 202O VOL.43 NO.5

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SPOUSAL DISTANCING Horacio Silva discovers how adulterers have been getting creative during COVID-19.

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SPELL CHECK

Being a witch isn’t just for Halloween. Mike Albo investigates the occult on the Upper East Side. 52

LUSTRE FOR LIFE

Clutch pearls! There’s life in the old gals yet. Photo-collages by Martin Vallin. 60

THE POWER LIST

This year, Avenue’s annual survey of New York’s movers and machers highlights those who are making the city a better place.

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STORY TIME Martin Amis at home in the Hamptons. Photographed by Elena Seibert for Avenue.

8/27/20 1:56 PM


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VERNISSAGE

Avenue’s insider preview of all that’s new and noteworthy: French interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot reinvents the storied Waldorf Astoria; DJ D-Sol, aka Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon, spins his discs; the city’s most celebrated chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, plans his fall menu for The Mark. By Horacio Silva.

BUY CURIOUS

What to wear when duty calls, and cool looks for cooler weather. By Horacio Silva. 24

Artist and Power Lister, Jordan Casteel.

CULTURE

Angela M.H. Schuster asks a trio of New York artists, Michele Oka Doner, Derrick Adams, and Torkwase Dyson, how the pandemic has shaped their practice. On the eve of his autobiographical novel, Martin Amis talks to Tom Shone about life, love, and male friendship. Ben Widdicombe interviews author Cecily von Ziegesar, the gossip girl behind the new novel Cobble Hill. Plus: the great

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hats of Christian Dior, chosen by the iconoclastic English milliner Stephen Jones; and fall’s hotly anticipated fiction from Elena Ferrante, Yaa Gyasi, Phil Klay, and Susanna Clark.

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LIVING

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As New York opens up, city dwellers are finding new ways to nest at home. Wendy Moonan talks to Robert and Cortney Novogratz, the husband-and-wife design duo who have returned to New York to breathe life into a beloved Greenwich Village landmark. Harriet Mays Powell tracks the rise of the “control center,” and rounds up interior designers’ favorite brands inside the D&D Building. Nancy Kane reports on the extended season in the Hamptons, where September is the new August.

COVER: Illustration by Cecilia Carlstedt 10

NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT

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Joshua David Stein reports on the blossoming of Madison Avenue after our summer of lockdown.

HEIR CARE

Heather Hodson spotlights some of the best special education schools in the country, right here on your doorstep; and Shivani Vora talks to Dr. Brian Levine, the specialist behind the pioneering fertility practice known as CCRM. 106

SEEN

Galas in the garden, drive-by luncheons, and a pool party with a cinematic twist. 112

SOCIAL SKILLS

Satirist Posey Wilt imagines a rallying cry for the Socialite Benevolent Fund.

NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

Aria Darcella reconsiders Alicia Corning Clark, the thrice-married socialite who sued JFK after their tryst. SWEET SPOT Left: profiteroles at La Goulue.

For our relaunched website, go to avenuemagazine.com

JORDAN CASTEEL: DAVID SCHULZE; PROFITEROLES PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOHN KERNICK

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AVENUE MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020

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Despite the odds, New York City is once again open for business.

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Rejuvenation

or several weeks during the early summer, as I strolled to work every day from Central Park South to the magazine’s offices on Lexington, I could cross Madison and Park Avenues without checking for traffic in either direction. Because there was no traffic. But today, as late summer shadows fall across East 59th Street, I can hear a muffled symphony of truck brakes, car horns, and the occasional distant siren. It is music to my ears. New York City is the greatest creative and economic engine of not just the state and the country, but also the world. Its reopening is a cause for joy. That’s why we dedicated this issue to all the ways our artists and businesses are moving forward against the pandemic. In these pages, you’ll meet novelists (like Martin Amis and Cecily von Ziegesar), as well as artists (Derrick Adams, Torkwase Dyson, and Michele Oka Doner) who have returned to work in their studios, and the indomitable gallerists and shopkeepers of Madison Avenue—some of whose establishments have been open for a century. You’ll catch up with hoteliers and restaurateurs in the East End who are unexpectedly thriving, and Robert and Cortney Novogratz, a design duo at the forefront of new interiors trends. Plus we present our annual Power List, this year dedicated to dozens of New Yorkers who are making our city a better place. (And for dessert: enjoy deep dives on how adulterers are coping during lockdown, and Upper East Side witches. You’re welcome.) Despite the odds, New York City is once again open for business. Please join us in celebrating. Warmly, BEN WIDDICOMBE

Editor-in-Chief 12

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ben Widdicombe CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Courtney Gooch

Jessica Lee is the production director of Avenue, and an old-timer, having started on the magazine 20 years ago. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts with a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design, Lee’s passion for design began at the age of three, when she learned how to cut, paste, and draw. A New York native (which may explain her longtime fixation with coffee), she lives with her husband and two young boys. When it comes to work, she says, “Good design is forever.” Nicole Rifkin (Spousal Distancing, page 40) is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and graduate of the Pratt Institute whose work has received recognition in multiple industry competitions, including the Society of Illustrators and Creative Quarterly. Her dynamic illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Playboy, to name a few. Richard Kern (In the Studio, page 30) has films and photographs in the collections of both the Whitney Museum and MoMA, and has held more than 100 solo exhibitions worldwide. A regular contributor to VICE, Purple, and Numéro, he says of his assignment for Avenue: “Although shooting while wearing a mask and fogged-up glasses was frustrating, photographing the artists in their studios was a breeze. I got to work in large, airy spaces that had been visually curated by the subjects themselves.” Shivani Vora (The Hope Doctor, page 102) is a New York– based lifestyle writer who regularly covers real estate, fashion, and trends for publications such as the New York Times and Forbes. Her main global pursuits (pre-pandemic, of course) include covering the growth of luxury real estate on Cabo’s East Cape, snowshoeing for ten miles a day in the Dolomites, and doing a gin tour of Ireland. Of her Avenue story she says, “Talking with Dr. Levine brought me back to the time eight years ago when I went through my multiyear struggle to conceive for a second time. If I had known about him back then, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long.” 14

DEPUTY & MANAGING EDITOR

Angela M.H. Schuster FEATURES DIRECTOR

Heather Hodson PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR

Catherine G. Talese PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Jessica Lee STYLE EDITOR

Horacio Silva DIGITAL FASHION EDITOR

Aria Darcella ART ASSISTANT

Daniela G. Maldonado LONDON EDITOR

Catherine St Germans PARIS EDITOR

Clémence von Mueffling CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Alex Kuczynski, Liesl Schillinger, Katrina Brooker, Gigi Mortimer, Tracy Bross CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Anders Overgaard, John Huba, Mitchell Feinberg, Landon Nordeman, Martin Vallin, Mark Seelen, Scott Frances © 2020 by Cohen Media Publications LLC AVENUE MAGAZINE 750 LEXINGTON AVENUE 16TH FLOOR NEW YORK, NY 10022 EDITORIAL@AVENUEMAGAZINE.COM

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TOM SHONE BY KATE SHONE; JESSICA LEE BY KEITH MAJOR; RICHARD KERN BY MARTYNKA WAWRZYNIAK

Tom Shone (The Martin Chronicles, page 24). “It took both our wives plus one publicist to get Zoom working, which made us both feel pleasingly inept and English,” says Tom Shone, who moved to New York from London in 1999 to work for Tina Brown’s Talk. Now the film critic of London’s Sunday Times, he has had work published in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Vogue, and has written five books, including the forthcoming The Nolan Variations, his collection of interviews with Christopher Nolan, published in October by Knopf.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020

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VERNISSAGE

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SALAD DAYS: Jean-Louis Deniot’s interior designs (pictured left) for the new residential apartments in the iconic Waldorf Astoria (opposite) speak in a thick between-the-wars accent that somehow avoids pastiche.

Deco Echo OPPOSITE PAGE: NOË & ASSOCIATES/THE BOUNDARY (2); JEAN-LOUIS DENIOT: DAVID OLIVER

BY HORACIO SILVA

O

n a recent af ternoon, Jean-Louis Deniot, the formidable French interior designer, was in a car driving from Paris to Normandy. Back in New York, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on 50th Street and Park Avenue, the storied address he has been charged with reinventing in part as one of the city’s premier condominiums, was a hive of activity, with more than 5,000 new windows being installed and rows of elevator banks being completed. Deniot did not seem bothered. “I don’t lose sleep over it,” he said with Gallic insouciance. “My job is to define the lifestyle of the building, what people get distracted by and how they get together, and instill the place with magic.” No easy trick, Deniot pointed out, when the Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1931, closed in 2017, and is rebooting in 2022 as a mixed-use development, with 375 hotel suites on the first 18 floors and 375 sumptuous condos from the 19th to the 52nd stories, means so many things to so many people. “Everyone has a favorite story about going to the Waldorf,” he said, “so I need to create a backdrop for people to create extraordinary new moments and memories.”

Though some of the Waldorf’s special flourishes are being lovingly preserved, including the 1907 Steinway piano given by management to longtime resident Cole Porter and the lobby clock originally commissioned by Queen Victoria for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and later bought by then owner John Jacob Astor IV, one of Deniot’s biggest challenges has been to retain the building’s Art Deco character while avoiding pastiche. “There’s no way you can re-create the Waldorf the way that it was in the thirties,” Deniot explained. “So you assemble components that are realistic today—ideas, feelings, perfumes even, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be the original perfume, shape, or purpose. It can fully be alluded to, but doesn’t mean that it’s the real McCoy.” In his effort to keep the place Deco-inflected but modern in spirit, and in order to preserve the heritage and magnificence of the past while making room for new experiences, Deniot even found inspiration in an old Chanel dress. “Absolutely,” he said, “a dress from the 1930s. But it can be [furniture designer Gerrit] Rietveld in Holland; bits and pieces from India, because I work a lot there and Art Deco was very indebted to India; the Art Deco and energy of Miami; and, of course, Hollywood, because we know that the Waldorf Astoria is all about Hollywood.” A casserole of conceits, perhaps, but as he explained, sounding more like a chef than a designer, “The mix is very New York and the combination of ingredients is where the magic happens.” Voilà! SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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VERNISSAGE

“IT’S LIKE THIS CONTROVERSY THAT INVOLVES EVERYBODY’S EMBARRASSING DAD.” SICK BEATS: DJ D-Sol, better known as Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon.

Sultan of Spin

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RICHARD “PARLAY” COPIER

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oldman Sachs doesn’t often appear in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine, and when it does, the mention isn’t always complimentary. “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” is one memorable line, published in 2010, that probably still haunts the institution’s global headquarters on West Street. Almost a decade later, however, the magazine was covering Goldman more positively, and for a different reason. Its chief executive and chairman, David Solomon, 58, was moonlighting as a successful electronic dance music deejay, under the moniker DJ D-Sol. “He’s been on a nice little hot streak,” the EDM critic wrote approvingly, noting that one of his remixes “might even be better than the original.” Solomon’s spinning skills were back in the news this summer, when he played a controversial Hamptons fundraising concert, headlined by an EDM-pop duo called the Chainsmokers. Critics pounced when images of the event were published online, appearing to show an egregious lack of social distancing. “We have no tolerance for the illegal and reckless endangerment of public health,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter. “I am appalled.” Adding an extra twist was that the Southampton town supervisor, Jay Schneiderman, who granted the event a permit, opened the night with his own band. (He plays the drums.)

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“It’s like this controversy that involves everybody’s embarrassing dad,” said one young East End resident who attended the concert. “What are these middle-aged guys going to want to try next, skateboarding?” Solomon, whose total compensation in 2019 was $27.5 million, probably doesn’t need the extra income a side hustle would bring. Besides, all proceeds from Payback Records, which he established to support his hobby, go to charities fighting opioid addiction. But if nothing else, the controversy was good for his social media presence. Solomon’s Instagram account, @djdsolmusic, grew by almost a thousand to 31,900 followers over the summer. As the kids say, that’s sick.

Voulez-vous poulet avec moi?

COURTESY OF THE MARK HOTEL

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hefs—they’re just like us. Take Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the city’s most celebrated chef and the name behind 39 restaurants around the world, including the flagship Jean-Georges on Central Park West and The Mark Restaurant at the exclusive Upper East Side hotel of the same name. “Like the rest of the world,” he says on the phone from his home in the Hamptons, “I’ve been obsessed with food lately. For the first two months, I was cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have never done that in my life.” Vongerichten speaks in a choppy manner that the French call haché. His sentences are as bloated as a gourmand and delivered with a breakneck speed honed from years of barking orders in the kitchen. But on this day, even after a trip to the dentist, there was no mistaking his meaning. The absence of indoor dining in New York has been a blessing and a curse. The break has offered him the first real opportunity, for example, to rethink the flavors, menu, and presentation at The Mark, recently voted by Travel + Leisure as one of the best hotels in New York. “It’s not easy to do when you’re operating at full pace,” he said. “So, it’s a good time to reinvent ourselves.”

CHEF’S KISS: Jean-Georges Vongerichten has used his time during lockdown to cook up new ideas for fine dining at The Mark Restaurant.

“YOU HAVE TO BE QUICK ON YOUR FEET AND BE WILLING TO TRY EVERYTHING, TO REALLY PAMPER THE NEIGHBORHOOD.” —JEAN-GEORGES VONGERICHTEN

Besides, people now have time to pay more attention to what they eat. “Everyone is reading more cookbooks and watching food shows, doing cooking classes on Zoom, and their palate has improved,” he said. “They’re looking for better ingredients and analyzing dishes more than ever.” But if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s Vongerichten. The chef responded to the city’s lockdown by being one of the first among the more rarified restaurants to offer to-go dining at The Mark. (The number of Upper East Siders walking the streets carting pizza boxes with Vongerichten’s best-selling truffle pie speaks to the popularity of the move.) And as the luxury hotel reopened on June 15, Vongerichten was thrown back in the mix straightaway, offering

everything from meals on the terrace and picnics in the park to his famous hotdogs on the sidewalk. “It’s the new normal,” he explained. “You have to be quick on your feet and be willing to try everything, to really pamper the neighborhood.” Nothing is off the table for The Mark, he continued, not even “three-, four- or five-course meals to go and have at home.” In fact, his new fall menu is inspired by change and innovation. “I think it’s a time to be less fussy and introduce new flavors and combinations of food,” he says. “Yes, it’s an organic chicken, but sprinkle it with licorice and it’s a new experience altogether. It’s a new challenge for sure,” he explains, “but some restaurants are not going to reopen so it’s a good challenge to have.” —hs SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Brunello Cucinelli wool wrap dress. $5,895; shop.brunellocucinelli.com Hermès felt hat. $1,625; hermes.com

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BUY CURIOUS

Fall Guys Cool looks for cooler weather

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AVENUE MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020

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The Martin Chronicles Martin Amis says Inside Story will be his final long-form novel. Tom Shone speaks with him about the book that is “halfway to a memoir"

“Eros is at work when you form a really firm male friendship.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY ELENA SEIBERT

“I

AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK: Author Martin Amis at home.

t’s a very delicate matter to decide,” says Martin Amis of the stark announcement, on page 7 of his forthcoming book, Inside Story,, that it is to be his last longform novel. “It’ss not like saying I would never accept a knighthood. I mean, Richard Ford, when he finished The Lay of the Land, said to me, ‘I’m m never doing that again,’ and then the next thing he wrote, practically, was Canada,, which was over 400 pages. But the fact is that writers tend to go off in their seventies. I do think Philip Roth went on a bit too long.” Speaking via Zoom one recent morning from his wife’s family home in East Hampton, tan and tousled, graying hair swept back from his temples, Amis, now 71, speaks in his distinctively unhurried cadence—erudite, laconic, sandy with wear and tear. It is something of a cliché among Amis interviewers to remark on the author’s passage from onetime enfant terrible to literary elder statesman, from the Jaggeresque strut and virtuouso dazzle of his early work, The Rachel Papers and Money, to the battle-scarred sagacity of London Fields and The Information. His tennis game may not be what it was (“the ball comes over the net like a strange surprise; you just stand there and watch until, with a senescent spasm, you bustle off to meet it,” he recently wrote), but on the page he can still rely on a lethally disguised backhand slice or feather-light drop shot. “As you get older you can of course remember what you went and did when you were younger,” he writes in Inside Story. “What you can’t remember is the temperature of the volition—of the I want.” Expansive, elegiac, spectral with imminent departures, the novel is halfway to a memoir, bundling together a troika of deaths—his friend, critic and polemicist Christopher Hitchens; novelist Saul Bellow; and the English poet Philip Larkin—with an account of a sexual affair with a wounded brunette named Phoebe Phelps that consumed his late twenties and haunted him into middle age. With her slender form, “lawless smile,” and air of febrile emotional damage, Phelps is a compilation reel of

—Martin Amis

Amis’s girlfriends from the late seventies smelted into a femme fatale familiar from his fiction. “I’m frightened of her, Hitch,” Amis confesses during one of the pair’s tête-à-têtes in Luigi’s Italian café in London’s Holborn, where the two decamp to chew over their escapades and imbroglios. “As I have him say in the book, the persistence of sexual memory is very striking,” Amis tells me. “The contours of it, the high definition of those memories, must be to do with the fact that you’re never more alive than when you're in the act. Christopher used to say to his political friends ‘It’s nice to talk about politics, because all I talk about with Mart is sex,’ and it was true.” The only girlfriend of Hitchens to ever inspire outright envy, he writes, was Anna Wintour (“opulent, high church, sweet tooth”), who later tells Amis, “I was mad about him and he was mad about you.” That, too, is the book’s pivot. Playful and metafictional when it comes to sex, Inside Story’s Zuckermanesque shimmer yields as it approaches male friendship, and the beeping monitors of the critical care unit in Houston where Hitchens spent the last nine months of his life, battling cancer. “I really brainwashed myself to believe that he was going to survive and come through,” says Amis a little sheepishly, although he stayed by his side for much of that final year, soothing him, telling stories, accompanying him to the hospital gym or while he did laps of the pool. The resulting portrait is almost conjugal in its tenderness. At one point, Hitchens accidentally brings up a mouthful of milky liquid as they hug. “The thing SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Caption TK

BOYS’ CLUB: Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis in London in 1980.

“It was quite a considerate fire,” says Amis fondly. “It started on the top of one floor and then it went out. What ruined the house was the water. Americans are amazed that the insurers were not at all recalcitrant. So we came out of it undamaged financially. We’ve bought somewhere else now.” That somewhere is a smaller apartment on the 20th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Brooklyn, where he and Isabel have adjusted to life without their two daughters, 23-year-old Fernanda and 21-year-old Clio, both now in college. From their lofty perch, they have seen the sidewalks empty and then fill again as pandemic and protest have rocked the city. “We haven’t been struck down yet, but we’ve just been like everyone else having this extraordinary readjustment to the disappearance of society,” he says. At the end of last year, before Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and killed in Georgia, Amis had already begun a short story about lynching, and has plans for another short story about race. “It’s amazing how topical it goes on being. Why is the hatred still white on black and not black on white? It can only be explained by a dirty conscience. Yeah. There’s no shortage of interest, but it’s like that Chinese saying ‘May you live in interesting times.’ After everything this year, I see it as being a bit too interesting… But it’s not a reason to leave. Where would you go?” Inside Story will be published on October 20 by Knopf.

“It’s nice to talk about politics, because all I talk about with Mart is sex.” —Christopher Hitchens

© ANGELA GORGAS

insists on getting out of me,” Hitchens apologizes. “It’s nothing, my dear, it’s nothing,” replies Amis. They could be husband and wife. “Eros is at work when you form a really firm male friendship,” he says. “My father [the writer Kingsley Amis] said to me once when he had a date with Larkin, when they were going to meet in some club or pub, that he would feel the same type of excitement as he would before visiting a lady that he was interested in—and it’s idle to deny that. That kind of physical attraction is more present with some male friends than with others, and it was definitely the case with Christopher. As he said in his autobiography, when we started being friends, we sort of fell in love. Another thing I feel slightly guilty about is that there were a few little occasions, when he obviously wanted it to be more than…I was on for.” “You mean physical or emotional?” I ask, cognizant of Hitchens’s bisexuality. “Both. And I should've had more respect for that rather than thinking, ‘This just has nothing to do with me.’ It did have something to do with me, and it was part of the friendship… You are haunted not by your achievements, they fall away, but by your sins of omission, and commission, and the things you regret.” A few days after Hitchens died, in December 2011, Amis found himself sharing a curious elation with his widow, Carol Blue. “The love of life of The Hitch…has in part transferred itself to us,” he notes. For all its shards of regret, the book feels buoyed by the ample life Amis has built for himself since moving from London to New York in 2011 with his second wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, with whom he has acclimatized to the unfamiliar sensation of “waking up happy.” He writes of the “sensory pleasure” from the physical presence of his five kids and now two grandkids. Even the fire that gutted the top floor of their brownstone in Cobble Hill on New Year’s Eve 2016, like “the last kick in the arse of 2016,” is grist to Amis’s comic mill, as “ten huge Darth Vaders yelling GET OUTTA HERE! GET OUT! GO! GO! GO!” unleash a “gigaton” of water on the upper stories of their house, while Isabel, on the phone from Florida, asks if they could please remove their boots. AVENUE MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020

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Books Four standouts from the new crop of fall fiction

PIRANESI by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Startling, subtly terrifying, delicious, mysterious, and wildly weird, Susanna Clarke’s evocation of time, trust, and the metaphysical spring to life in this long-awaited new novel by the author of the bestselling 2004 Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Piranesi inhabits The House, a labyrinthine structure of endless vestibules and classical statue-festooned hallways, alone except for his inscrutable master, known only as The Other. So massive is The House that all of its parts and rooms possess their own climates—not microclimates, but entire worlds unto themselves, complete with storms and tidal patterns and bitter cold—which Piranesi must navigate to survive. There are other former beings in The House—skeletons to which Piranesi has ascribed names and histories—but when The Other worriedly asks him if he has seen another live person in The House, one whom he calls 16, Piranesi realizes that the enigmatic Other is, perhaps, not telling him the truth about their relationship, his history, and his future. Tautly written, Piranesi explores the knotted intersection of trust and the sinister, in an utterly unforgettable and inventive novel. elissa altman

TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf)

In this magnificent novel, Yaa Gyasi, critically acclaimed author of Homegoing, plaits together the story

of a family of Ghanaian immigrants as told through the voice of their sixth-year neuroscientist PhD candidate daughter who is grappling with her mother’s depression, her brother’s heroin addiction and overdose, their faith, their past, and their future. Seamlessly woven with language that is at once relentlessly beautiful and economical, Transcendent Kingdom introduces the unforgettable character of Gifty, who tenuously searches for faith and answers for the tragedies in her midst while also clinging to the neuroscientific study of the reward-seeking behavior upon which addiction is partly based. Is it possible to live a predictable and logical life, where every action has a reaction, and every stimulus a response—where everything is explainable—while hungering for the evangelical faith of her Alabama childhood? An intimate, stunning, and vivid work of art that evokes what it means to survive and thrive while living in a world without answers. Glorious. elissa altman

MISSIONARIES by Phil Klay (Penguin Press)

The former Marine and Iraq War veteran established himself as a powerful new voice in the war-writing tradition with his 2014 short story collection, Redeployment. The hotly anticipated follow-up to that National Book Award winner is his debut novel, Missionaries, in which the battleground has shifted from the Middle East to present-day Colombia. Against the backdrop of a small Colombian town, the government-backed militia, supported by the US and its drones, wages war with narco-guerillas. In this sparely written, clear-eyed portrait of how violence is exported around the world, Klay weaves together the interconnected stories of a lieutenant in a local militia, a burned-out foreign correspondent, a US Army Special Forces medic

looking for his “good war,” and a Colombian officer struggling with competing local factions. Klay spent six years in America and Colombia researching the effect of modern warfare on ordinary citizens, and the extent to which it corrodes people’s souls bleeds through every page. heather hodson

THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions)

When the mysterious, pseudonymous Elena Ferrante released The Lying Life of Adults last year, reading vigils were held across her native Italy, and people queued for hours to snag a first copy. Opening with the arresting line, “Two years before leaving home, my father told my mother that I was very ugly,” Ferrante’s first work since the global success of her Neapolitan Quartet does not disappoint (Netflix has already picked up the rights). Spanning three years, from 13 to 16 in the life of the female narrator, the novel is set in Ferrante’s favorite city, but it is a different Naples to the workingclass slums of her previous work. Giovanna is from the bohemian affluent class of the upper district, where dinner table conversations revolve around Marx and parents hover watchfully over their progeny. But Giovanna discovers a skeleton in the closet in the form of an aunt Vittoria, and, determined to discover the truth about the family’s monster, she begins a physical and psychological journey into the subterranean depths of the city. Like Dickens’s London, Ferrante’s Naples is a multilayered metropolis teeming with life and characters, and the scope of Giovanna’s story is reminiscent of a nineteenth-century novel. The Lying Life of Adults is a shimmering, stunning work, a masterful chronicle of hypocrisy and lies in their many guises, and the turbulence and truth-seeking of adolescence. heather hodson

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Head Master Christian Dior made the hat central to his collections, and his successors have followed suit. Legendary milliner Stephen Jones highlights the best in class

“Blitz kids” who frequented the influential eponymous London club during his time studying womens wear at Central Saint Martins during the late ’70s (other habitués included Leigh Bowery, Jean Paul Gaultier, Isabella Blow, and John Galliano), Jones was in the vanguard of the New Wave movement, and the punk spirit he developed then has never left him. The creations he shares here reveal how a direct line can be drawn between the inventiveness of the master of the New Look to his own iconoclastic spirit. In Granville, Normandy, the Christian Dior Museum will soon be staging the exhibition Dior Hats at a date to be confirmed. heather hodson

HATS OFF: Clockwise from left, a flower garland created by Stephen Jones for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first couture collection for Dior; a pleated red tulle mask in the shape of Peggy Guggenheim sunglasses made by Jones for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s spring/summer 2018 collection for Dior; the milliner Stephen Jones in his go-to beret. 28

FLOWER GARLAND: TIERNEY GEARON; SØLVE SUNDSBØ

“Millinery is a wonderful expression of freedom, and it’s also a display of your intent, whether social or political or whatever you want it to mean,” is how Stephen Jones, the genius British designer-maker of hats, has described his calling. In his forty years as arguably the most important and radical milliner on the fashion landscape, Jones has created headgear for everyone from Princess Diana and the Duchess of Sussex to the Rolling Stones and Rihanna, and has collaborated with some of the great couture houses, including a 24-year partnership with Christian Dior, for whom he has produced Dior Hats: From Christian Dior to Stephen Jones (Rizzoli). In the 240-page tome Jones, the first English milliner to work for a French couture house, takes the reader on a journey from 1947 to the present day, through the hats of M Dior and the designs of Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferré to his own inventive, captivating creations made with John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Dior’s current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. As one of the original

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POP CULTURE

STOOPS TO CONQUER: Four Brooklyn couples and their children are the main characters in Cecily von Ziegesar’s new novel, Cobble Hill.

The Discreet Charm of the Brook-eoisie

CECILY VON ZIEGESAR BY RICHARD GRIGGS

In her new novel, Gossip Girl author Cecily von Ziegesar moves the action to Cobble Hill, writes Ben Widdicombe

“I

’m pretty sure the first interview I ever did for Gossip Girl—I think it was 2002—was with Avenue,” Cecily von Ziegesar says one recent afternoon, speaking over the phone. It’s no surprise Avenue goes so far back with the best-selling novelist, whose series about a Manhattan private school clique was adapted into an era-defining television series in 2007. Von Ziegesar attended the Nightingale-Bamford School, and is descended from German aristocracy—her very name evokes a turreted ancestral schloss, nestled in the misty Bavarian Alps. Nonetheless, she insists she was only ever an observer of the privileged set. “I never felt like I fit in with the Upper East Side Manhattan situation. So, I was always writing those books as an outsider, looking in,” she says. Recently 50, with a son entering tenth grade and a daughter on the way to college, she has now written a book that reflects her current stage of life. Cobble Hill chronicles prosperous couples in contemporary haute Brooklyn, but she still feels the old remove from her fictional subjects. “Having raised my kids in Cobble Hill—well, we’re on the other side of the BQE, closer to Red Hook,” she is careful to explain. Fans of her finely observed characters will appreciate the aging pop star and his ex-model wife; the artist couple in line for MacArthur “genius” grants; and the magazine editor married to an important novelist. Readers may also enjoy guessing if real-life Cobble Hill personalities, including former Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive, and Beastie Boy Mike D, inspired these figures. And could the novelist be modeled on Brit-turnedBrooklynite Martin Amis?

“Oh my goodness, I’m going to get in trouble here,” von Ziegesar says with a chuckle. “I have never met Martin Amis, but I do know that he lived in the neighborhood, and that his house caught on fire,” she says, echoing an event in her novel. “But [the character] is not based on him at all.” The plot, she explains, had been intended to take place in the “near future.” But novels take years to produce, so the seismic events of 2020—including the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests—have not impacted its characters’ lives. “So now it’s set in a kind of limbo that maybe doesn’t exist, but is refreshing to read about.” Intervening real-world events, however, have presented two tangible complications. One is that a traditional book tour is out of the question. “Actually, I’m looking forward to that,” she says. “I’ve done events for projects where you show up at the bookstore and nobody comes. Having people show up on Zoom is easier, because they can be in different places, and it’s nice to know there are people on the screen.” The second issue is whether, in this political moment, readers will embrace ten main characters who are all white heterosexuals. Among the supporting cast, there is gender-fluid Manfred, who serves as a sprig of tinsel. But most eyebrow-raising is that the book’s lone Black character is named Black Ryan, to distinguish him from another Ryan. Von Ziegesar seems not to have considered this may cause offense. “Nobody’s asked me to do any changes, like my editor,” she says. While Black Ryan’s friends, teachers, and even his mother use the name, a white character eventually comes to understand it is racist. However, by the end of the novel—spoiler alert—Black Ryan has adopted the name professionally. Why is that? “In an earlier conversation, he’s clearly uncomfortable with it, but then he’s embracing it,” von Ziegesar explains. “He's like, ‘That’s me, this is who I am, I’m Black Ryan with a capital B.’ He’s naming himself instead of being named.” If that approach does provoke controversy, the author is prepared. “Obviously, there will be a conversation about it, and I’m open to having that conversation,” Von Ziegesar says. She pauses before adding: “I just spoke to someone from Town & Country, but they didn’t ask so many difficult questions. Does that mean Avenue is changing?” Cobble Hill will be published in October by Atria Books. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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In the Studio How have New York’s artists, who are used to carrying out their work in solitude, adapted to the pandemic? Angela M.H. Schuster asked a trio of artists— Michele Oka Doner and Derrick Adams, who both caught the virus, and Torkwase Dyson—how these unusual days have shaped their practice

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Artist Torkwase Dyson at work in her Newburgh studio.

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Torkwase Dyson

“L

istening to talks, audiob o ok s , p o e m s , a nd music as I am moving materials around the studio, I feel a collective presence even in this moment of distance. I feel a chorus in my space of solitude and I’m able to create because of it,” says Torkwase Dyson, explaining that, for her, this surreal moment has brought a sense of inner peace and optimism. “It is often in challenging times that humans find freedom, liberation, and justice and begin to see a host of new possibilities and potential.” Finding or creating pathways toward liberation, she explains, has been an integral part of the Black experience in America since the first slave ship plied the waters of the Middle Passage in 1619. “For me, the Middle Passage has always been a point of departure, its waters a geography I come back to didactically and politically. There is a before the Middle Passage and an after the Middle Passage, a before the crossing and an after the crossing. In the wake of that journey and in that journey, that is where my stories come from.” For Dyson, water, as manifest in the rough seas of Atlantic, has come to play an outsize role in her work, the artist having certified as an open-water diver in 2010, to get closer to her subject. “Through diving, I have been able to have an embodied experience with water. I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am—to think about

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SPACE AS FORM: MOVEMENT 1 (BIRD AND LAVA), 2020 © TORKWASE DYSON, COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Harlem and Newburgh

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FREEDOM IN ISOLATION Above: the artist in her Newburgh studio with a pair of works (on the far wall), executed in acrylic and string on wood, from her 2020 Bird and Lava series. Facing page: artist’s materials and Dyson’s acrylic on canvas, Space as Form: Movement 1 (Bird and Lava), 2020.

“FOR ME, THE MIDDLE PASSAGE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A POINT OF DEPARTURE, ITS WATERS A GEOGRAPHY I COME BACK TO DIDACTICALLY AND POLITICALLY.” —TORKWASE DYSON

space and scale the way I think about them now without such an intimate connection with water.” Gracing Dyson’s studio are a suite of large, heavily impastoed geometric abstractions—each a meditation on the depth, darkness, and dimensionality of the saturated graphite and pitch-black acrylic in which she works. At the moment, she is producing a suite of small-scale drawings, paintings, and short animations made from those drawings and paintings, intimate studies in her Bird and Lava series, which is to culminate in a monumental sculpture

installation at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. These have been created largely in isolation, as the lockdown coincided with the beginning of the artist’s yearlong residency there. The current pieces, some of which were presented in Dyson’s debut exhibition with Pace Gallery in East Hampton this past August, embody what she calls a certain “at-handness,” as they were executed with only the materials at hand in the studio during the lockdown. There is a certain monasticism, she says, of the process of creating within such calming confines. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Michele Oka Doner SoHo

“W

ith seemingly endless commissions and ex h ib i t i on s to prepare for prior to the pandemic, I never had the luxury of this much time,” says Michele Oka Doner, as she pulls out a suite of handsomely scaled works in progress from a massive flat file, spreading them out on the floor of her sun-drenched home studio. “After the lockdown, I went into an absolute drawing frenzy, returning to

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pieces I had abandoned months, if not years, ago and creating new ones that brought intense personal satisfaction. When I opened these drawers, I could not believe what was waiting for me.” Among the more than two dozen new works executed in a matter of weeks is a rendering of a raven begun on March 12, which the artist has since titled Corvid, after the taxonomic family to which it belongs. “Corvid/COVID, there is a rationale,” she says, explaining that she conjured an image of the bird in her mind after a biologist friend, Hilary Swain of the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Florida, “diagnosed her” with

“corvid curiosity” while the artist was laid up with a light case of the coronavirus for a week in March. Gazing about her SoHo loft, Oka Doner’s passion for the natural world is omnipresent, manifest in the myriad sculptures in bronze, charred wood, and wax; works in porcelain, including dozens of “soul catchers,” anthropomorphic talismans she has been producing for more than three decades; and large drawings in oil stick on compressed layers of abaca paper interwoven with pressed tree roots and seagrass—remnants of a previous project. “I use everything, including the byproducts from earlier works, from pulped paper and misprints to foundry floor discards.” Nearly every work surface is laden with specimens and works inspired by them, including a trio of etched-glass bowls set in cast-bronze coral-form cradles, from the 2005 Reef collection commissioned by Steuben. Oka Doner has repurposed them as individual aquariums for Vietnamese fighting fish. “Growing up on the beach in Miami, I was absolutely fascinated by the abundant marine life, she says, adding that, “in many ways, my first language was that of the sea.”

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CORVID CURIOSITY Right: Michele Oka Doner continues her work on Corvid, a rendering of a raven begun on March 12. Facing page: encaustics and other materials and Distraught Goddess and Her Prophecy, 2010, a lifesize sculpture in clay and iron oxide.

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BRIGHT IDEAS Above: Derrick Adams cuts a variety of shapes out of paper-backed kente cloth for brightly hued collages in his Floaters series, begun in 2015. Facing page: the artist in his Atlantic Avenue studio with a trio of works executed during the lockdown.

“THESE WORKS ARE SO UPLIFTING AND ANTITHETICAL TO THE TIMES WE ARE LIVING IN.” —DERRICK ADAMS

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Derrick Adams Brooklyn

“W

he n I op e n the door and turn on the lights, I am so excited to see all of these works in this space. They are so uplifting and antithetical to the times we are living in,” says the Baltimore-born, Brooklyn-based artist of the nearly two dozen painted collages tacked to the stark white walls of his Atlantic Avenue studio, all produced since the New York City lockdown began in March. The brightly hued pieces, with their abundant use of neon pigment and kente cloth from Ghana, cele-

brate Black friends at leisure—swimming; relaxing on a pool float, summer cocktail in hand; and enjoying a day at the beach. “When the lockdown began, I thought I would just produce a couple of pieces, mainly to trade with fellow artists. Suddenly, I had made 22.” The new works, Adams explains, are a continuation of a series titled Floaters, which he began in 2015 and had supposedly “completed” late last year, well ahead of the March 7 opening of his solo show “Derrick Adams: Buoyant” at the Hudson River Museum in Westchester. (Accompanying “Buoyant” is an immersive installation, We Came to Party and Plan, created during the artist’s 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation summer residency, which is on view through October 18.) It was likely at the museum, says Adams, that he caught the virus, which laid him up for a week just days after the opening night party. “Oh my God, I was on the phone and texting constantly with friends who are doctors and frontline workers, who assured me I would be okay so long as I got enough rest and took care of myself. By the time I recovered, New York was on lockdown,

leaving me nowhere to go. I live around the corner from the studio so coming here to work became a sort of exercise in meditation and healing.” A corner of the artist’s studio is dominated by a larger-than-life family of paper dolls— maquettes for an upcoming project, a large-scale commission for the lobby of the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is to be unveiled next year. “For the installation, I took my inspiration from the Green Book, which allowed Black travelers to enjoy the same Utopian America experienced by their white counterparts during segregation, as well as from pictures of Martin Luther King on vacation with his family in Jamaica, published in the June 1967 edition of Ebony.” Prior to the pandemic, says Adams, he never had the time and space to make this much work. “It has been really exciting to see the images together. And it is a show, albeit a very private show. For me, it is about other narratives and ultimately the pursuit of the American dream—the carefree pleasures of success and the downtime it affords for reflection and family, especially in these challenging times.” SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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WORK IN PROGRESS Left: Floater 99 (in-progress detail) in acrylic paint and fabric collage on paper. Right: Adams continues work on his mixed-media Floater 105.

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L A S U O P S DISTANCING

CONDUCTING EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS HAS BECOME MORE DIFFICULT, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE, DURING QUARANTINE. HORACIO SILVA DISCOVERS HOW ADULTERERS HAVE BEEN GETTING CREATIVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY NICOLE RIFKIN

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“IF THERE WERE CRACKS IN A RELATIONSHIP BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, THERE ARE NOW FISSURES.” —DR. KATHRYN SMERLING 42

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WHEN NEW YORK WENT INTO LOCKDOWN

in early spring, any gambler would have bet money on corona babies and divorces coming down the track. In the absence of the usual professional and social distractions, both proved to be true. Fewer, however, may have wagered on the stress of the pandemic leading to an uptick in extramarital affairs. But if the last few months are anything to go by, while monogamy may not be a part of human nature, transgression clearly is. It may be harder than ever to physically meet up, but just as people have found creative ways to deal with being cooped up inside, they are finding imaginative ways to cheat. “I’ve never had to think so fast on my feet,” says Kane, a financial advisor to ultrahigh-net-worth individuals at one of the country’s leading banks, who prefers not to go by his real name for obvious reasons. Like his cohort of friends trapped in tepid marriages from which they can’t afford to extricate themselves—mostly C-suite philanderers accustomed to afternoon trysts at midtown boîtes such as Lavo before going home to family—Kane has had to lift his game. “The old excuses just don’t cut it anymore,” he says, lamenting the days when he could blame his absences on early-morning monitoring of Asian financial markets or after-work glad-handing. “I find myself straining to remember the plots of books and movies that have affairs in them for inspiration.”

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CHEATING APP ASHLEY MADISON ANTICIPATES ITS MAIN COMPETITION COMING NOT FROM OTHER DATING SITES, BUT FROM THE EVENTUAL RETURN TO THE WORKPLACE.

If reruns of The Affair or thumbing through Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, in which the protagonist has an affair with her best friend’s father, yield no suggestions, he would do well to take a page from the duplicitous Upper West Side executive who in the last few months has somehow convinced his wife that he’s attended no less than three off-sites upstate even after these retreats became about as extinct as a threewhiskey work lunch. Or from the notoriously lazy charity gala regular who has reinvented herself (to her husband at least) as a hands-on do-gooder, claiming to deliver food to housebound residents twice a week—by foot! Others are turning up the pace on their fake forays outside. “I’ve found that the best thing is to say that you’re going on a long run,” says Justin, a trade commission attaché. “Depending on how fit you are, a run can last up to two hours, and it’s totally acceptable to get home sweaty and smelly.” But, he cautions, if you’re hooking up with someone from a dating app, “The rule of thumb is to never meet up with anyone more than 4,000 feet away. It’s just not enough time unless you really want to sprint home.” “Running is very big these days,” jokes Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a family therapist on the Upper East Side. “So is meeting a socially distanced work pal. “Seriously though,” she continues, “I’m not surprised at all that people are having affairs despite the risks and ramifications. If there were cracks in a relationship before the pandemic, there are now fissures.” It’s an opinion shared by Kristina Coop Gordon and Erica A. Mitchell, two psychologists

who in July cosigned an editorial about infidelity in the time of COVID-19 in the journal Family Process. “Individuals who are dissatisfied in their current relationship are more likely to explore alternative options,” they wrote, “and the increased stress from the pandemic may be contributing to more negative perceptions for individuals of both their partner and their relationship.” Not surprisingly, Ashley Madison, the dating site for married people wanting to get a bit on the side (and whose tagline “Life is short. Have an affair” takes on new meaning in a pandemic), is reporting approximately 17,000 new users a day— many of them in New York. This, despite the fact that the site became a household name in 2015 when hackers stole the information of more than 37 million adulterers, and a year later was mired in further controversy when it emerged that they had used bots masquerading as females to lure wannabe rakes. “There you go,” Paul Keable, the company’s chief strategy officer, says good-naturedly in reference to the company’s record, “that should tell you how prevalent this is. We actually saw a dip when the lockdown orders started. And that was a normal reaction to an incredibly unprecedented event. But as the weeks wore on we started to see the increase in our traffic. A lot of people are clearly coming out of this extended period of being with the same person and saying to themselves, ‘I’m going to make a choice to fulfill the elements of my life that I’m missing.’” So rampant is the trend for extramarital sexytime that, according to Keable, the company anticipates its main competition coming not from

other dating sites, but from the eventual return to the workplace. “That’s where a lot of this activity has traditionally happened,” he explains. Fortunately for New Yorkers with a wandering eye, contact tracing in the city is virtually nonexistent. Unlike in Belgium, for example, where authorities have hired thousands of tracers to investigate all contacts made by people testing positive for COVID-19, including extramarital affairs. And in South Korea, the safety guidance texts sent to residents throughout the day include a trove of information about people who have tested positive, including embarrassing details about their whereabouts that are fueling a lot of speculation online. Which is not to say that New York louses betraying their spouses are in the clear. As Dr. Smerling points out, it’s never been easier to get caught. “After four months of being so close together we’re used to the patterns of our family members,” she explains, “and the disruptions of these patterns are easier to spot.” Just ask Lily, a thirtysomething creative who tantalized her married lover at the beginning of lockdown with recipes from Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, Isabel Allende’s ode to food and sex. Lily even cooked for her paramour at his home, when his wife was away one weekend, whipping up a salmon omelet with sour cream and chives served with rye bread. In the end it was Lily’s cleaning, not her cooking, that exposed the affair. Her lover, who was lactose intolerant, didn’t touch the sour cream, which she made the mistake of putting away in the fridge. When his wife discovered it on her return, she jumped to exactly the right conclusion. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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FOR A GROWING NUMBER OF FASHIONABLE YOUNG PEOPLE, BEING A WITCH ISN’T JUST FOR HALLOWEEN. MIKE ALBO INVESTIGATES THE OCCULT ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE

Spell Check

ILLUSTRATIONS BY NICOLAS ORTEGA

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“IN MANHATTAN, MOST OF THE WORK IS AROUND MONEY AND DIVORCE. WOMEN REALLY WANT TO HEX THEIR EX-HUSBANDS.” —DR. KATE TOMAS, WITCH

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wenty years ago, Hilary Gurley buried a box containing Donatella Versace’s hair in the little garden plot in front of her West Village apartment. By dabbling in witchcraft, the petite, impeccably dressed blonde was ahead of the curve. In 2014, the Pew Research Center reported the United States’ adult population of pagans and Wiccans was about 730,000—on a par with the number of Unitarians. Today, there are numerous witchy hashtags on Instagram, many popular with the young and affluent. But in 2000, Gurley was 24 and single, and had just been offered a position at Versace in Italy—by Donatella Versace herself. She quit her plum job at LVMH, gave up her apartment, and moved her stuff into storage. Her friends gave her a goodbye party, and her two cats had visas and kitty Xanax for the flight. Then the trip, and the job, were mysteriously put on hold. She had no idea why. Ten days passed. She contacted a lawyer. “It turned into a long, drawn-out lawsuit that led me into debt,” says Gurley. In a daze, wandering through the West Village (before Marc Jacobs moved in), she often passed by a curious store: Morgana’s Chamber. “I would see interesting people with crimson hair. Blackened eyebrows, crystals and candles in the window. I never in a million years thought about going in.” This time, though, nearly homeless, she went inside. “I was probably wearing a seersucker A-line dress and Manolo Blahniks, with a blonde flip and carrying a Nantucket lightship basket.” She gravitated to a thin chapbook and bought it. In the book, she found a spell that claimed to be able to establish closure. There were so many things she needed to gather: candles, oils, a photo, a lock of hair. “I found a picture of [Donatella] cut out from a magazine. My friend who introduced us was one of her hairdressers. At some point he had given me a hairbrush and hair clip that she had used. I had never thought of it until then. It all had to be bound up into a package or parcel that I had to anoint with the oils and wax drippings and then bury under a full moon. I remember being on Charles Street late at night, like with a spoon in the little garden in front.” She had never imagined practicing witchcraft. “I was raised a Christian. I wasn’t thinking about this as a real thing. No disrespect to witches whatsoever. But I felt like I was at my wit’s end. I was broke, I was in debt. You start questioning your sanity.”

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alem, Stonehenge, Joshua Tree—there are places in this world that immediately come to mind when people think of witchcraft. But Manhattan is also steeped in The Craft, spells are cast every day, and its streets are lousy with witches. “I think it’s pretty much crawling with them. They show up when you need them,” says Laurel Sparks, a professor and practitioner of Esoteric Magic. “There is a long history of mystics and occultists having a stint in New York City,” she adds, and according to those who practice, the island is throbbing with power. Some explain how the city is built on carnelian quartz—a powerful conductor of energy. Others mention how the city’s “ley lines” match up on the island in significant ways. This occult practice of lining up prominent structures and historical landmarks (also called “sacred geometry,” or, by the more critical, pseudoarcheology), finds plenty of important spots in the Upper East Side—notably Cleopatra’s Needle in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United Nations Building, and 432 Park Avenue, a newer addition to the list that has become a locus of occult conspiracy theories on a par with the World Trade Center. Why that address in particular? Sacred geometry expert Scott Onstott posits in his book Secrets in Plain Sight that the human heart beats 4,320 times an hour; 432 x 432 is the speed of light in miles per second; and “in the Hindu vedas, which are among the world’s oldest sacred texts, the Kali Yuga (‘the age of vice’) is said to last 432,000 years. Most interpreters of Hindu scriptures believe that Earth is currently in the Kali Yuga.” (Now you know.)

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Whether or not you personally subscribe, however, there’s no doubt the Upper East Side casts a powerful spell on believers. Witches (and charlatans) abound. The Grailwood Coven has been known to celebrate the pre-Christian pagan version of May Day in Central Park, in the shadow of Fifth Avenue’s multimillion-dollar co-ops. (Picture Midsommar, but without the murder and mushrooms.) Then there was the case of Victoria Nicholes, a sorceress who operated out of a fortune-telling parlor on Lexington Avenue and East 66th Street. In 2016 she was busted by cops for swindling a 35-year-old client out of more than $62,000 by convincing her she was possessed by a demon baby and needed an exorcism. But it’s not only the wealthy in the neighborhood who seek out help from the spirits. In her ethnography, “West African witchcraft, wealth and moral decay in New York City” Jane Parish describes the many “anti-witchcraft” shrines uptown. These shrines—which offer protection against evil magic and curses for an offering of ten or twenty dollars—are constructed and patronized by the immigrant workers who serve the local upper crust. One shrine priest, Parish writes, “spoke of how witches had infiltrated some of the most expensive condos on Lexington Avenue and patrolled the corridors of these apartment blocks waiting

to attack their victims—the wealthy, whose failing moral compass and greed had left them exposed to evil forces.” In fact, anxiety over wealth can drive all classes to seek protection—or help—from witches. “Sometimes there’s an underlying guilt that is unspoken if they haven’t made their own money,” says Scott Clover, a New York intuitive energy healer. “I’ve had a ton of moms from uptown come to me,” says Hillery Sklar, a healer and witch who was born and raised in Murray Hill. “One brought the other and then another from uptown.” Dr. Kate Tomas, who holds a PhD in Christian mythology and mysticism from the University of Oxford, is an intuitive healer and witch who worked in Manhattan for nearly two decades. Also known as “the luxury witch,” she now resides in the UK and offers coaching through her website. “It’s common, particularly in Manhattan, that most of the work is around money, unsurprisingly, and divorce,” she says. “Women really want to hex their ex-husbands. This one woman emailed…she is very well known the art world…she said, ‘I’ve got his semen, hair, an old sock of his….okay, what can you do?’ She had a vial with this semen in it!” Unfortunately for the vengeful, however, Dr. Tomas does not encourage using witchcraft for such purposes.

“WITCHES HAVE INFILTRATED SOME OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE CONDOS ON LEXINGTON AVENUE AND PATROL THE CORRIDORS, WAITING TO ATTACK THEIR THEIR VICTIMS,” SAYS ONE ANTI-WITCHCRAFT PRIEST.

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hese days, you may know a lot of witches. It’s very trendy. Witchcraft has come out of the broom closet and become something to talk about over brunch or on the Jitney. Embracing this aesthetic is The Numinous, an uptowncentric online community, which was created in 2012 as a place where, according to its founder, “Céline shoes and The Celestine Prophecy could exist in perfect harmony.” It’s like The Wing, but with incense. But this new popularity makes some seasoned practitioners wary. “It’s funny, 18 years ago, it wasn’t safe for me to identify as a witch. It would prevent me to get into universities, book publishers, clients I wanted to work with,” says Dr. Tomas. “And about five years ago I started retreating from saying I was a witch because it’s become so common, and I wanted to differentiate what I do from all that.” The influx of initiates has prompted an increase in amateur spell casting

that many professionals regard as altogether too casual. “When you are navigating the spiritual realm, I think you are playing with fire. It’s not advisable to wing it,” says Rebecca Fey, a green witch and teacher. “You have to be very aware. When you open a connection to the other side, any spirits can come through. Like in Beetlejuice.” In other words, be careful what you conjure. Fortunately for Ms. Gurley, the spell she cast on Donatella Versace all those years ago didn’t have evil intentions. But she still worries it caused some witchy ripples. “A couple weeks later, this crazy thing happened. There was someone else in my life I was having differences with through work. I was thinking ‘If she would just back off, my life would be easier.’ Then I found out that this person had a horrible accident in her apartment. The pipes burst. I felt so horrible that I immediately went to church,” Gurley says. “But she was also a Vogue editor.” So she probably deserved it. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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PHOTO COLLAGES BY MARTIN VALLIN

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QUEEN NEFERTITI/THE NEUES MUSEUM, BERLIN

for

Lustre Life

CLUTCH PEARLS! THERE’S LIFE IN THE OLD GALS YET

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APHRODITE: RÉUNION DES MUSÉES NATIONAUX/HERVÉ LEWANDOWSKI/ART RESOURCE, N.EW YORK.

Left: Queen Nefertiti reigns supreme in a Les Éternelles de Chanel secret necklace/18-karat white gold watch (worn as crown) with 75 Indonesian cultured pearls and 502 brilliant-cut diamonds, $729,000; white gold, cultured pearl, and diamond earrings, $369,300; white gold, cultured pearl, and diamond transformable necklace (detachable camellia motif may be worn as brooch), $2,556,300. 733 Madison Avenue. Above: Aphrodite is mighty in Mikimoto Akoya cultured pearl, diamond, and white gold drop earrings, $4,100; “Cherry Blossom” WSSP A+ 15mm pearl, white gold, and 1.52-carat diamond necklace, $25,000; “Jeux de Rubans” Akoya A+ 8x3mm pearls, 16.15-carat diamond, and white gold necklace, $238,000. 730 Fifth Avenue SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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HELEN OF TROY AFTER A PAINTING BY LOUIS AMMY BLANC: ZU-09/ISTOCK/GETTY

Helen of Troy breaks hearts in a Juwelier Weyersberg pearl, diamond, and 18-karat gold brooch, $9,000; and Karl Stittgen pearl, ruby, diamond, and 18-karat gold two-finger ring, $10,000. mahnazcollection.com

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MENELAUS: VATICAN MUSEUM, ROME

Helen who? Menelaus licks his wounds in a Van Cleef & Arpels “Bomarzo Perles” necklace from the “Les Jardins” collection featuring pearls, sapphires, and diamonds set in 18-karat white gold, $464,000. 744 Fifth Avenue

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KRISHNA: AUTHENTICATED NEWS/ARCHIVE PHOTOS/GETTY

Krishna is divine in Mizuki Tahitian pearl, 18-karat white gold, and 2.46-tcw diamond earrings, $28,000; black Tahitian and ivory South Sea pearl, black full-cut inverted 2.53-tcw diamond earrings, $18,500. mizukijewels.com

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MARIE ANTOINETTE BY JOHN CURTIS AFTER DUFROE/THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/GIFT OF SUSAN DWIGHT BLISS, 1956

Marie Antoinette could start a revolution in Irene Neuwirth Akoya 18-karat yellow gold earrings set with 7mm white cultured Akoya pearls on pavé hooks. $9,610; ireneneuwirth.com

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Sappho brings all the girls to the yard in her Eleuteri antique pearl, diamond, and emerald gold and silver antique crown (Italy, circa 1800s). Price upon request; eleuteri.nyc

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THIS PAGE: BOUDICCAN REBELLION BY THOMAS THORNYCROFT. PREVIOUS PAGE: SAPPHO: NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM/VCG WILSON/CORBIS/GETTY

Queen Boudicca is ready for action in Les Galaxies de Cartier black Tahitian pearl and white gold bracelets. Limited edition of 50 numbered pieces; price upon request. Available by appointment only at 653 Fifth Avenue

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PowerList The

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Jordan Casteel Artist The painter has gained critical acclaim for her vibrant, large-scale portraits. Although her solo show at the New Museum, Jordan Casteel: Within Reach, closed after a month due to the pandemic, the work is available online; meanwhile her mural, The Baayfalls, is viewable from the High Line.

Cecilia Alemani Director & Chief Curator, High Line Art As director of the High Line’s art program since 2011, the Milan-born Alemani has turned the elevated park into a destination for major works by contemporary artists such as Kerry James Marshall, El Anatsui, and Carol Bove. Earlier this year, she was named curator of the 59th Venice Biennale, now slated for the spring of 2022. It is a distinction she shares with her husband, New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, who curated the critically acclaimed 55th edition in 2013. Nicholas Baume Director & Chief Curator, Public Art Fund Bringing free public art to New York’s open spaces has never been more important; through September, 50 artists will show work reflecting on the pandemic on some 500 bus shelters and 1,700 Wi-Fi kiosks with digital screens across the five boroughs. Says Baume: “It’s going to be an amazing gift to the city.”

CECILIA ALEMANI: BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY/BFA; JORDAN CASTEEL: CARL TIMPONE/BFA

Contemporary Art

THIS YEAR OUR ANNUAL SURVEY OF NEW YORK’S MOVERS AND MACHERS HAS BEEN REIMAGINED TO HIGHLIGHT THOSE WHO ARE MAKING THE CIT Y A BET TER PL ACE

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THELMA GOLDEN: NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY; ALEX POOTS: CHRISTOPHER LANE/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES

Performance

Thelma Golden Director, The Studio Museum in Harlem “As a champion of Black artists, a deeply authentic cultural and social anchor for Harlem, and an agent of the transformations that must continue in New York— and throughout America—our mission has never been more relevant,” says Golden of the half-century-old Harlem institution. Since taking up the post of director in 2005, she has overseen an ambitious expansion in programming and a $175 million capital campaign to underwrite the construction of the museum’s new David Adjaye–designed home on 125th street, slated for completion in late 2021.

Misty Copeland Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theater In tumultuous times, the prima ballerina and social justice advocate continues to inspire, going en pointe in her New York living room as she led colleagues from all four corners of the globe in a virtual performance of Le Cygne—a fundraising initiative Copeland launched for dancers facing tough times due to COVID-19. Alex Poots Artistic Director & CEO, The Shed For The Shed’s debut year in 2019, the former artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory organized a five-night concert series directed by Steve McQueen, art installations, a play, and a Bjork performance. The art space is working toward reopening this fall with Rope/Fire/Water, a solo show by Howardena Pindell that will feature the artist’s first video work in 25 years.

“As a champion of Black artists, a cultural and social anchor for Harlem, and an agent of the transformations that must continue in New York—and throughout America—our mission has never been more relevant.” —Thelma Golden, The Studio Museum in Harlem SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Jeremy O. Harris Playwright This thought-provoking Yale graduate made his Broadway debut with Slave Play, saw an earlier work, Daddy, revived off-Broadway, and co-authored the script for the upcoming film Zola—all before turning 30. His next project? A deal with HBO.

“I have no idea when our catering business will return, but until then, my responsibility is to find ways to keep the company ‘cooking,’ keep our people working, keep hope alive.” —Liz Neumark, Great Performances 62

Liz Neumark Founder & CEO, Great Performances Banqueting titan, social activist, food blogger, and leader in New York’s sustainable food movement, the third-generation Manhattanite serves as an example of how to run a profitable business that also benefits its employees and the environment. It’s no surprise that when the pandemic hit, she retooled her kitchen and began producing and delivering thousands of weekly meals to the housebound elderly, hospital workers, and hungry New Yorkers. “I have no idea when our catering business will return, but until then, my responsibility is to find ways to keep the company ‘cooking,’ keep our people working, keep hope alive,” she says.

Roger Turgeon Principal, Food and Finance High School With seed money from the Bill and Melinda Gates–funded New Visions project in 2004, longtime culinary arts instructor Roger Turgeon designed a public high school with a mission to groom future generations of New York chefs and restaurateurs. Today, Food and Finance High School in Midtown serves nearly 400 students annually who are learning from some of the best in the hospitality industry. Marcel Van Ooyen President & CEO, Grow NYC Since taking over this nearly halfcentury-old nonprofit in 2006, Van Ooyen has expanded the organization’s initiatives beyond bringing New Yorkers local produce at neighborhood markets. Among them: Grow to Learn NYC, a public-private partnership with the Mayor’s Office, creating sustainable gardens in New York City’s public schools.

JEREMY O. HARRIS: EMILY ASSIRAN/CONTOUR BY GETTY; LIZ NEUMARK: COURTESY OF GREAT PERFORMANCES; WILSON TANG: PAUL WAGTOUICZ COURTESY OF NOM WAH

Culinary Wilson Tang Chef Nom Wah Tea Parlor, known for its dim sum, has been a Chinatown staple for 100 years. But when Tang took over the business in 2010 he knew exactly how to grow this New York institution. He has since opened Nom Wah Nolita and an outpost at The Market Line in the East Village, and expanded to Philadelphia and China.

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When the pandemic arrived, Marcus Samuelsson, the James Beard Award–winning chef, quickly converted three of his restaurants into community kitchens. They now serve some 500 people a day, including frontline workers and “food-insecure” neighbors.

Film

MARCUS SAMUELSSON: CARL TIMPONE/BFA; EUGENE HERNANDEZ: ERIK TANNER/GETTY; TONYA LEWIS LEE: ROMMEL DEMANO/BFA

Marcus Samuelsson Chef When the pandemic arrived earlier this year, the James Beard Award–winning chef quickly converted three of his restaurants, including Harlem’s acclaimed Red Rooster, into community kitchens. Serving some 500 people a day, including frontline workers and “food-insecure” neighbors, Samuelsson says, he has simply “found new audiences for his coveted cuisine.”

Tonya Lewis Lee Producer This stylish lawyer turned film and television producer is also a philanthropist who has worked extensively to lower infant mortality rates. Recent hits include the Netflix series adaptation of She’s Gotta Have It, based on the film by her husband and collaborator, Spike Lee.

Eugene Hernandez Director, New York Film Festival Hernandez put a flag in the sand when he snagged Lovers Rock, the new film from the genius British director Steve McQueen, to open this year’s festival. The new appointee is having to navigate uncharted festival waters in the pandemic era: expect socially distanced outdoor screenings and old-fashioned drive-ins to characterize Hernandez’s debut.

Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig Actors Nowhere does low-key megastars quite like New York City. This Brooklyn brownstone–dwelling couple will face off in rival releases this November: he in the Bond film No Time to Die, she in the Marvel Studios release Black Widow.

Jane Rosenthal Cofounder, Tribeca Film Festival In addition to producing Hollywood hits, Rosenthal is a tireless champion of New York’s film industry. The Tribeca Film Festival, which she cofounded with Robert De Niro, helped revitalize downtown Manhattan following the 9/11 attacks.

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Fiona Davis Author Davis’s beloved historical novels are love letters to her adopted city, invariably set in New York’s landmark buildings (her debut novel, The Dollhouse, takes place at the Barbizon Hotel, while the Dakota stars in The Address). Her latest, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, is a whodunit at the New York Public Library spanning 1913 to 1993, and brims with literary details and feminist history. “There are so many hidden stories tucked beneath New York’s iconic skyline,” she says. “This city’s resiliency never fails to inspire me.” Vivian Gornick Writer A quintessential New Yorker who started at the 1960s-era Village Voice, Gornick’s brand of second wave feminism fell out of fashion for a time. But her work has endured and is now embraced by a new generation that values her lyricism, elegant observations, and striking moral clarity. Katharine Walter Instagrammer, @nyc.thenandnow This realtor and confessed “history nerd” has more than 56,000 followers on her Instagram account, which juxtaposes historical and present-day architectural photographs of the city. It’s as irresistible and enjoyable as it is educational.

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Jill Kargman Humorist This Upper East Side resident has penned several books satirizing the neighborhood. When her 2007 novel Momzillas—about dealing with a clique of her wealthy peers—was adapted into a TV show, Kargman starred as herself. Joel Sternfeld Photographer During his lauded career Sternfeld, has documented nearly all of America. But New York, his hometown, is his muse. He’s captured the city in its gritty glory for decades, including a memorable series on the High Line before it became a manicured attraction.

KADIR NELSON: NICHOLAS HUNT/GETTY/HBO; JILL KARGMAN: AARON RICHTER/CONTOUR RA/GETTY; COURTESY OF JOEL STERNFELD

Chroniclers of the City

Kadir Nelson Artist & Author This artist, who cites Banksy, Norman Rockwell, and the ancient Egyptians among his influences, is known for creating album covers for Michael Jackson and Drake, along with children’s books (he is a Caldecott Medal winner). But it is his recent covers for The New Yorker—including the politically galvanizing Say Their Names this year—that may end up defining his oeuvre.

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Medical Research

Nightlife JOHN MCDONALD & NUR KHAN: ANGELA PHAM/BFA; ANGIE MAR: JOHNNY MILLER; ANDREW SAFFIR: DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/GETTY; COURTESY OF DR. WENDY CHUNG

Ian Duke Restaurateur Keeping the party going in uncertain times is a difficult task that has been mastered by Ian Duke, co-owner of the Southampton Social Club and other Hamptons restaurants. His newest lark is The Baylander, a former Navy helicopter ship billed as “the world’s smallest aircraft carrier,” now serving fried clams and cocktails in the Hudson River.

Angie Mar Owner, Beatrice Inn In the 1920s the Beatrice Inn was a speakeasy frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Graydon Carter was a previous owner. Now, chef Angie Mar—who bought the spot in 2016—is continuing its glamorous legacy. “It was never an option to close her down when COVID hit,” she says. “Overnight, we pivoted from fine dining to serving take-out and delivery, focusing on comfort food reflective of my childhood.”

“I’m still in awe of the power of movies to inspire and entertain, especially now, when we need it most.” —Andrew Saffir, The Cinema Society

Nur Khan &John McDonald Cofounders, Butterfly Last year, these onetime nightlife rivals teamed up to create a modern boîte (with original Damien Hirsts on the wall) that became the toast of downtown. Butterfly’s rooftop private club began welcoming guests again in late summer, and McDonald promises the original space “will reopen as soon as t hey allow.”

Andrew Saffir Founder, The Cinema Society After creatively adapting to pandemic conditions with events like VIP drive-ins, this film premiere organizer is the undisputed king of New York’s red carpet. “I’m still in awe of the power of movies to inspire and entertain, especially now, when we need it most,” he says.

Dr. Wendy Chung Kennedy Family Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Columbia University This molecular geneticist, the go-to physician scientist in the field of rare genetic disease research and treatment, is involved in a slew of major programs, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Rare As One project. Known for her compassion and ethics, she is currently helping lead the charge against COVID-19 as principal investigator for the COVID Recovery Corps study. “My goal is to give every person the best chance of a healthy life by unlocking the information in our genomes,” she says.

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Lisa DeAngelis Physician-in-chief & Chief Medical Officer, Memorial Sloan Kettering As a neuro-oncologist with more than 30 years of experience, DeAngelis and Memorial Sloan Kettering are leading the charge in treating brain tumors, as well as the neurological effects of brain cancer. She’s using her head to save yours.

Ester R. Fuchs Professor of Public Affairs & Political Science, Columbia University The New York native has long been embedded in the civic and political life of the city, turning her laserlike focus on improving policy for underserved communities. The former senior advisor to Mayor Bloomberg is now crunching data with Columbia’s medical school on the CovidWatcher project, tasked with keeping New York safe. “There is really no alternative for New York than to once again reinvent itself,” she says of the city post– COVID-19. “And those who choose to stay will know why they are here and what they must do; and those who come to pursue the New York City dream, like generations before them will find it.”

Murray Fisher Cofounder & Chairman of the Board Pete Malinowski Cofounder & Executive Director Billion Oyster Project Since founding the Billion Oyster Project in 2014, the duo has worked to restore oysters at 14 reef sites across the five boroughs—from Coney Island Creek in Brooklyn to SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx— through a robust education and marine habitat reclamation initiative. Beyond the waterfiltering power of the mollusks, explains Malinowski, oyster reefs provide habitat for hundreds of species. Perhaps more important in these hurricane-strengthening times, adds Fisher, oyster reefs are key to protecting New York City from storm damage by buffering the blow of large waves and preventing erosion along city shorelines. The ultimate goal is to restore one billion oysters to New York Harbor by the year 2035.

Dan Doctoroff CEO, Sidewalk Labs After serving as a top lieutenant to Michael Bloomberg, both in business and government, in 2015 Doctoroff partnered with Google to found Sidewalk Labs. Using technology to improve cities, the start-up has become a leader in innovating climate change solutions for urban environments. 66

Alex N. Halliday Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University After spending more than a decade at the University of Oxford, British geochemist Alex N. Halliday was tapped in 2018 to lead Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which has become a major force in research into environmental sustainability since its founding in 1995. Commenting on the Earth Institute’s multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving, Halliday says, “If we are to improve our planetary management, we must engage a range of researchers who are able to develop better climate modeling methods and find effective ways of decarbonizing society.” In 2019, Halliday was knighted for his services to science and innovation.

Elizabeth Kolbert Writer This Bronx-born, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Sixth Extinction is one of the foremost American writers on climate change and the environment. “Every decade is consequential in its own way, but the twentytwenties will be consequential in a more or less permanent way,” she wrote in The New Yorker in January. “Really waking up, and not just dreaming to ourselves that things will be O.K., has become urgent—beyond urgent, in fact.”

COURTESY OF ESTER R. FUCHS; DAN DOCTOROFF: MATT CARR/CONTOUR BY GETTY; COURTESY OF ALEX HALLIDAY; COURTESY OF ELIZABETH KOLBERT

Climate Crusaders

Kenneth L. Davis President & CEO, Mount Sinai Health System In addition to his innovative research on Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia, Dr. Davis has also helped grow the School of Medicine’s recruitment and funding, and guided the medical center itself through a financial turnaround.

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Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez Executive Director, New Yorkers for Children In addition to being an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work, Friedman-Gonzalez runs a nonprofit that helps fund and implement programs that assist children in welfare and foster care systems to better improve their outcomes. She’s helping a new generation of New Yorkers reach their potential.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Astrophysicist & Frederick P. Rose Director, Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History “People like it when they understand something that they previously thought they couldn’t understand. It’s a sense of empowerment,” says New-Yorkborn-and-bred astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Hayden Planetarium director has spent a quarter century sharing his insights and excitement about our extraordinary universe through television shows, podcasts, and books, including the delightful pocket volume Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

Philanthropy

Children & Education

ELSIE MCCABE THOMPSON: PATRICK MCMULLAN/GETTY; NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: FELIX KUNZE/CONTOUR BY GETTY; SAROYA FRIEDMAN-GONZALEZ: JOE SCHILDHORN/BFA; ELLE HEARNS: KENNETH HAMLETT

Robert Burke Executive Director, Hudson River Community Sailing Since taking the helm as executive director in 2012, veteran National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound instructor Robert Burke has spearheaded the expansion of the non-profit organization he cofounded. With a mission to develop leadership skills and provide academic support and enrichment for underserved New York City youth—as well as provide maritime education and recreation for the community at large— Hudson River Community Sailing now welcomes some 200 students a year, 70 percent of whom come from Title 1 schools.

Elsie McCabe Thompson President, New York City Mission Society Leading this organization that provides educational opportunities to underserved children, Thompson has built a path for thousands of young New Yorkers. She likes to quote Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found playing small— in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Elle Hearns Founder & Executive Director, Marsha P. Johnson Institute The community organizer, speaker, and trans rights activist gained prominence in 2013 when she cofounded the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Just two years later she founded the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a leading trans advocacy organization. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Barry Diller Chairman & Senior Executive, IAC Diller recently broke the record for a personal donation to a New York public park when he gave $113 million to the creation of Little Island. The “floating” green space and performance area at Pier 55 (it actually sits atop 132 concrete stilts) looks like a futuristic utopia, and is slated to open in spring 2021. Guy Nordenson Partner, Guy Nordenson and Associates The structural engineer has helped create several of NYC’s most exciting new buildings, including the New Museum and the recent MoMA expansion. He is also researching how to safeguard New York’s waterfront against flooding.

Laurie M. Tisch President, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund In 2007, the philanthropist established her eponymous Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to support initiatives aimed at improving the lives of underserved New Yorkers in the belief that “circumstances of birth should not limit choices or short-circuit success for anyone.” Grants benefit not only health and economic development, but also support access to and programming for the city’s many cultural institutions. Darren Walker President, Ford Foundation Walker has led this social welfare philanthropy since 2013, which in June announced it would sell a record-breaking $1 billion in social bonds to benefit nonprofits struggling during the pandemic. He also cochairs a committee dedicated to encouraging New Yorkers to complete the 2020 Census.

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James Corner Founder & CEO, Field Operations Name a New York City green space created in the past 15 years, and Corner and his team have likely had a hand in creating it. The landscape architect is behind gems like the High Line, Domino Park, and the rooftop open-air park of South Street Seaport, putting a modernist spin on public grounds.

DAVID MILIBAND: CHRISTOPHER LANE/CONTOUR BY GETTY; LAURIE M. TISCH: SAMANTHA DEITCH/BFA; JAMES CORNER: PEDEN+MUNK

David Miliband President & CEO, International Rescue Committee The former British foreign secretary, still viewed by many as the best prime minister the UK never had, turned his back on politics in 2013 and decamped from London to New York with his young family to run the IRC. London’s loss is our gain: under his leadership, the organization has moved the dial in humanitarian aid, recently winning a mandate from the MacArthur Foundation to produce programming for refugee children to the tune of $100 million over five years.

Wes Moore CEO, Robin Hood Foundation He’s worked in finance and at the White House, served in Afghanistan, and has written several books, two of which were New York Times bestsellers. Now, he is helping lead the Robin Hood Foundation in its fight against poverty in New York. Most recently, the organization raised more than $115 million to support the city through the coronavirus outbreak.

Urbanists

George T. McDonald & Harriet Karr-McDonald Founders, The Doe Fund It has been 35 years since the McDonalds launched Ready, Willing & Able, a groundbreaking 9- to 12-month transitional work program designed to provide economic opportunity for homeless and formerly incarcerated men. In that time the $61 million nonprofit has helped more than 23,000 “Men in Blue” transform their lives through education, career counseling, safe housing, and sobriety support. “Now more than ever, we need programs like ours that make the promise of America accessible to all,” George T. McDonald tells Avenue, adding that, “We want to create a new normal that is equitable and inclusive.”

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Literary MITCHELL J. SILVER: ZACH HILTY/BFA; TERRANCE HAYES: KATHY RYAN/POETRY FOUNDATION; COURTESY OF ANDREA DAVIS PINKNEY

DAVID MILIBAND: CHRISTOPHER LANE/CONTOUR BY GETTY; LAURIE M. TISCH: SAMANTHA DEITCH/BFA; JAMES CORNER: PEDEN+MUNK

Mitchell J. Silver Commissioner, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Celebrated as an urban thinker, Silver, who assumed the role of Parks Commissioner in 2014, oversees the management, planning, and operations of some 30,000 acres of city parkland, including beaches and wilderness areas. “For New Yorkers, parks are an extension of their homes—their front yards, their backyards—and during the recent pandemic, they have become even more significant as a source of relaxation and a destination for physical and mental well-being,” he says, citing a host of initiatives launched under his aegis, among them a $50-million project known as Parks Without Borders. Tom Wright President & CEO, Regional Plan Association Inspired by the cycling culture of Copenhagen, Tom Wright and his team at the Regional Plan Association are reimagining New York City as a bike lover’s paradise, with a 425-mile network of protected, contiguous, highcapacity lanes across the five boroughs. A visionary build-out of the city’s five-year Streets Master Plan, which was launched in 2019, the Five Borough Bikeway is sure to shrink Gotham’s carbon footprint. “Securing a carbon-free future,” says Wright, “requires that we change our infrastructure so that biking can become as accessible and common tomorrow as driving is today.”

Dana Canedy Publisher, Simon & Schuster With her recent appointment at Simon & Schuster, Canedy becomes the first Black person to head a major publishing house. During her twenty years at the New York Times, her beat included race, finance, terrorism, and politics, and she shared a Pulitzer Prize for the series “How Race Is Lived in America.” Her memoir, A Journal for Jordan, about her husband, 1st Sgt. Charles M. King, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2006, was a bestseller. The film adaptation, directed by Denzel Washington and starring Michael B. Jordan, goes into production this fall.

“Loretta, the twelve-year-old protagonist of my latest novel, reminds us that activism is in the hands of young people. They’re on the sidewalks and streets, showing us hope. Now all we have to do is pay attention.” —Andrea Davis Pinkney, Children’s Author & Editor

Terrance Hayes Poet Credited with creating his own brand of hip-hop sonnet, Hayes has a fan base (which some have compared with “Mick Jagger groupies”) more often associated with a singer than a poet. This professor of English at New York University is one of our great poets, the winner of the Hurston/Wright 2019 Award for Poetry for the collection American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Book Award, to name a few. Unafraid to confront the state of the country with his fearlessly inventive, lyrical lamentations, “George Floyd,” recently published in The New Yorker, will go down as a protest poem for the ages.

Andrea Davis Pinkney Children’s Author & Editor The award-winning writer, editor, and Brooklyn resident has influenced a generation of children with her elegant, eloquent books focusing on social justice and civil rights themes. Twenty of them have been illustrated by her husband, the Caldecott honored Brian Pinkney. Her latest, Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It, about a family living through the civil rights movement, has been already hailed as a prescient work. “Kids are the city’s brightest lights, but they need us grown-ups to help them shine during these uncertain times,” Pinkney says. ‘‘Loretta, the twelveyear-old protagonist of my latest novel, reminds us that activism is in the hands of young people. They’re on the sidewalks and streets, showing us hope. Now all we have to do is pay attention.” Suzanne Nossel CEO, PEN America One doesn’t have to be a writer to defend independent journalism, but it certainly helps. During her tenure, Nossel has doubled PEN America’s staff and membership, and established an office in Washington, DC. This summer she released Dare to Speak, described as a “playbook for navigating and defending free speech today.” Colson Whitehead Author Best-known for winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice with his novels The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, Whitehead also wrote The Colossus of New York, a near-flawless nonfiction gem celebrating our city. No bedside table is complete without it.

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Village People 114 WAVERLY PLACE: COSTAS PICADAS; THE NOVOGRATZS: KYLE KNODELL

AFTER A HIATUS IN CALIFORNIA, DESIGN DUO ROBERT AND CORTNEY NOVOGRATZ (AND THEIR SEVEN KIDS!) ARE DIVING BACK INTO THE CITY WITH THE RENOVATION OF A GREENWICH VILLAGE TOWNHOUSE, WRITES WENDY MOONAN THINK PINK: The storied 114 Waverly Place, built in 1826 and notable for its quirky design features, is the latest project of Robert and Cortney Novogratz (right), who plan to keep their new Greenwich Village home’s distinctive exterior hue. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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The Novogratz, as they call the company, has an unconventional design aesthetic, mixing high and low decorative elements, such as custom upholstery with flea market finds, and Boffi kitchens with reclaimed wood floors. “The eclectic mix of the old brings in soul, and the new makes it happy, fun, and livable,” she adds. And they are clever when budgets are tight: instead of expensive wallpaper, for example, they might simply paint diagonal stripes on the walls or cover them with blown-up digital photographs. When the art budget is limited, they might use vintage movie and music posters found at flea markets or on eBay. The style has a youthful vibe. While they have renovated several townhouses for others in Manhattan, the charming but derelict 6,700-square-foot townhouse and garden at 114 Waverly Place (which they acquired in 2019 for $8.5 million, according to public records) is for their family. The story of the acquisition shows just how much Cortney Novogratz is a force of nature. When a broker showed her the 1826 townhouse with bright pink stucco, she thought to herself, “ ‘This house has a happy feeling.’ My son Five, at age 15, felt it too.” Then she learned that its longtime owner, a onetime Rockette named Celeste Martin who had recently gone into a retirement home, had died that very day. “Celeste was all about the arts, so I thought, ‘We have to honor her spirit.’ It felt so positive, like it was meant to be.” Then they came to appreciate Celeste even more. Left behind were collections of theater Playbills, old stage costumes, and menus from the most famous restaurants in town.

KYLE KNODELL (2)

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ust when people were abandoning Manhattan after COVID-19 struck in March, Cortney and husband Robert Novogratz, the popular design duo, decided to return to the city after six years in Los Angeles and turn a derelict townhouse near Washington Square into their next family home. “We loved LA, but all of our friends and family are here,” Robert says. “New York is going through tough times, and we thought this was an opportunity to come back to the city and help bring it back. We’re really New Yorkers who happened to live in LA for a while.” “I may be from Georgia,” says Cortney, “but I moved to New York when I was 20 and consider myself a New Yorker.” Over the past 25 years, the handsome couple has become a phenomenon. They have starred in two popular reality TV shows, created an eponymous line of furniture and home accessories, produced four interiors and lifestyle books, and completed dozens of design projects. The public ones include boutique hotels (Hotel Dylan in Woodstock, New York, and the Timber Cove resort in Sonoma, California), condos (Boston East in East Boston, Massachusetts), stores (the Babakul Fred Segal boutique in Santa Monica and the Novogratz Holiday Pop-Up shop in the West Village), bars, clubs, corporate headquarters, and recording studios. And then there is the private work, including several houses they restored and decorated all over the United States, from San Diego to Montauk. “We’ve done ten townhouses in downtown New York alone over the past 29 years, sprinkled in with seven children,” Cortney says. (The seven include two sets of twins.) AVENUE MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020

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GOOD BONES: The Novogratzes plan to convert the first floor, with its soaring 14-foot-high ceilings, into an open kitchen and living space. Left: a view of rooms on the second floor of the house, which they intend to turn into their master suite.  SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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NOVOGRATZ FAMILY: NATHAN JOHNSON; THE CASTLE, HOLLYWOOD HILLS: COURTESY OF THE NOVOGRATZ

FAMILY TREE: Portrait of the Novogratzes, clockwise from top: Five (in gray top); Breaker; Cortney; Robert with the family dog, Winter; Tallulah; Wolfgang; Bellamy; Major; and Holleder (in white pants). This page: the master bedroom of a Novogratz project in the Hollywood Hills called The Castle has an antique bed, an Indian vintage painting, and a large Bear Girl painting by Anne Siems.

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“We learned she used to hold court on the front stoop and would throw beads to people during gay pride parades. She was beloved in the neighborhood,” Cortney continues. “She was only the third owner of the house in almost 200 years. It’s rare to find a place that’s been untouched for so many years.” They were anxious to begin the renovation this summer. “When we got the go-ahead from the city, we started phase one, to make the site safe, putting in restrooms and sanitary kits, and reduced the number of crew who could work inside at one time,” Robert explains. They also took pictures of the millwork and moldings for reference before they gutted the interior to install new wiring and plumbing. They explain their design process: “We start with one inspiration, in this case the huge fireplace on the top floor, which is a large studio that

was a mecca for artists and poets in the 1920s,” Robert says, explaining that the floor is vaulted with a mezzanine balcony and tall windows. “We will keep it an event space, put in a grand piano and movable seating so we can have public events here.” He points out that their eldest son, Wolfgang, is an actor who is the star of a Netflix show, while their son Breaker is a composer and musician. They plan to make the large first floor, which opens into a garden in the back, an open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area, with its original black-and-white floor as a nod to Parisian cafés. The floor has 14-foot ceilings and southerly windows, so it’s flooded with light. They will make the second floor a master bedroom suite for themselves, with their school-age children’s bedrooms on the third floor (twins Holleder and Five, aged 15, as well as 11-year-old Major). The basement will become an apartment for the older kids

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LIVING

“WHEN WE WERE DATING IN NEW YORK, WE WOULD DANCE ALL NIGHT, THEN GET UP BEFORE DAWN TO GO TO THE FLEA MARKETS.”

when they are home from college (twins Bellamy and Tallulah, 22, as well as Breaker, 20) with a gym, bedrooms, living area, and kitchen. “We want to honor the neighborhood,” Robert continues. “Bring the house back to the way it was in the 1920s era, when Waverly Place was full of artists and writers.” When it comes to furnishing interiors, the Novogratzes go shopping. “We love flea markets in Paris, the South of France, Nice, Hudson, New York, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and Austin, Texas,” Cortney says. “When we were dating in New York, we would dance all night, then get up before dawn to go to the flea markets. Then, when we had kids, even when they were younger, we would take them and give them ‘assignments’—the girls were to look for paintings of women and old chandeliers— one-of-a-kind pieces. The boys were told to look for vintage toys and sports-related objects.” They are avid art collectors, for themselves and clients. Favorite personal purchases include a Self Portrait by Vik Muniz and a painting, Get Paid, by Mark Bradford. “We have been collecting contemporary art for 25 years,” Robert says. “We go to the Armory show in New York, Art Basel Miami Beach, and all the galleries in SoHo and the Meatpacking District. Cortney and I have 76

become very knowledgeable about art. The more you know, the more you have fun with it.” The business is truly a family affair. “Robert and I wear all the hats,” Cortney says. “I do the space planning. Robert has an incredible eye. We try to maintain the integrity of a space but bring it up to date. We complement each other, as we balance family and design.” They supervise a loyal crew of painters, plasterers, carpenters, and workmen. Robert’s sister Elizabeth, a writer, contributed to their new book: Novogratz Design Fix: Chic and Stylish Tips for Every Decorating Scenario, published by Rizzoli. As they devote their energies to Waverly Place, they are still thinking ahead. They are building the Waverly Place Collection, including a zebra wallpaper and textile pattern with their friend Donald Robertson, a commercial illustrator in Los Angeles. And, inspired by Colette and the Merci shops in Paris, they are thinking of opening an “experience store” in lower Manhattan where you can listen to music as you buy books, shop for fashion, acquire furniture and art, and attend events. They are wildly optimistic about the future of New York. “New York is our favorite city on Earth,” Robert says. “There will be a time soon when there will always be something going on in the city.” And they definitely plan to be part of it.

THE CASTLE, HOLLYWOOD HILLS; BELLPORT, NEW YORK; SILVER LAKE, LOS ANGELES: COURTESY OF THE NOVOGRATZ

—CORTNEY NOVOGRATZ

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THE NOVOGRATZ TOUCH: Left: The living room/dining room in this Hollywood Hills home illustrates the Novogratz high/low style and includes a Tom Dixon prototype orange chair and pale blue salvaged chairs purchased at a flea market and reupholstered. Top: The Novogratzes added warmth and soul to a brand-new construction in Bellport by incorporating the client’s fabrics, antiques, family heirlooms, and old paintings so that the home would feel lived-in. Above: Because of the large windows in this Los Angeles kitchen, the Novogratzes installed dark wood cabinetry and shelving without the space feeling dreary.

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LIVING

Welcome to the Zoom Boom Room Post-pandemic, the home office is being reconceptualized, with Zoom stations, bespoke wallpaper, and AV systems that enable you to trade from your hot tub. Harriet Mays Powell asks, Could it become the most luxurious room in the home?

ROOMS WITH A VIEW Above: the home office is your castle when it’s in a turret on Central Park West. Opposite: a retractable screen designed by Ampersand Architecture for the terrace of this Essex Street loft means its owner can follow the markets from his Japanese ofuro tub.

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ne unforeseen outcome of months of sheltering in place is that the home office is no longer the place where fun goes to die, aesthetically speaking. Instead, the “command center” or “Zoom room,” as it now calls itself, is a luxurious work-from-home space, with no expense spared. “Given the Zoom room boom, many people are giving designers some extraordinary requests,” says architect Amy Lopez-Cepero of Manhattan firm Ampersand Architecture. One client, a New York hedge fund manager, asked for an entire wall of his home office be filled with 12 huge computer screens so that he could check the markets—all of them—24/7. Sounds reasonable enough, except that this upgrade, to the specifications required, needed some 27 miles of wiring connecting everything, from the lighting system, smartphone controls, and AV, to the speakers and televisions, all of which need to go back to the server racks, as well as an additional 400 feet of superfast FIOS fiber-optic cable at $100 per foot. (The latter alone ran up a tab of $40,000.)

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able to accommodate appropriate staff when needed with ease and convenience. Critical to the command center is the ability to Zoom. Although the traditional spirit of the room will be preserved, Steph Katch says, it will be modernized to facilitate “clear Zoom calls throughout the day, with enough power to run all the necessary communication points.” A fine antique desk will be added to the existing traditional mahogany French polished bookcases and paneling, along with new window treatments to ensure “proper ambient lighting for an endless stream of video calls.” It will have the same “level of refinement as the rest of the apartment,” says Steph, adding “it needs to feel like it’s always been there.” Meredith Harrington of Meredith Harrington Interiors LLC has worked with one international couple for more than 20 years, designing their houses in London and on the West Coast. Currently, Harrington is working on their new apartment on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. The couple, who both work in finance, sit on various boards and come into New York frequently

ONE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE ASKED FOR AN OUTDOOR SCREEN ON HIS MANHATTAN TERRACE WITH A BLOOMBERG FEED.

COURTESY OF AMPERSAND ARCHITECTURE, PHOTOGRAPH BY ELIZABETH FELICELLA

Lopez-Cepero adds that the concept of an office in the traditional sense has also changed and become “open-minded.” She cites a recent request from another Master of the Universe for an outdoor screen on his Manhattan terrace with a Bloomberg feed, so that he can “trade from the comfort of his hot tub.” (Sometimes it’s just the aesthetics: famed fashion photographer Steven Meisel created a hybrid home office/bathroom, complete with a gilded French 1940s desk and a shower walled with onyx.) Steph and Pamela Katch, the sisters behind interior design firm Katch I.D., have recently been tasked by a leading music industry executive with transforming a space that was once a library into a new office, “with all the appropriate efficiencies that will be needed.” Once just an extension to the living room, the space is being retrofitted and reconfigured with relaxing lounge seating, discreet storage, and a functional work space with all the information technology and audiovisual systems that will enable her to manage her work day. On the client’s return to the city this fall, her “command central” area will be ready to go, and

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LIVING

“THEY HAVE NEVER WANTED THEIR OFFICES TO LOOK LIKE OFFICES.”

PAUL WARCHOL

—MEREDITH HARRINGTON, INTERIOR DESIGNER

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PAUL WARCHOL

TREES COMPANY Gluck+ created this scholar’s library in the Catskill Mountains. Opposite: A tree grows in…well, you know. The Brooklyn garden office of SHED Studio architects Colin Faber and Leni Niemegeers-Faber.

for business. She will be creating two offices, one for him and one for her. The apartment is in a 1960s building and will have bespoke finishes on the inside and landscaping on the outside. “They have never wanted their offices to look like offices,” Harrington says, and prefer them “to be done in the vernacular of the entire space, including artwork and sculpture.” The wife’s has sliding glass doors that open onto a terrace, and walls covered in Hermès wallpaper. A single wall is done in cerused oak (a special bleaching process) and incorporates raffia and a bronze strip. A large elliptical-shaped desk is inlaid with leather. In contrast, the husband’s is more masculine, with bespoke bookshelves, space for a banquette, and linen wallpaper throughout. Alongside a piece from renowned French furniture designer Jules Leleu, a Victor Roman table and chairs work as a small conference space. The new supersize home office is arguably

becoming the most luxurious room in the house. At present, Young Huh of Young Huh Interior Design is working on a complete renovation within 520 Park Avenue, a 64-story condominium tower designed by starchitect Robert A.M. Stern. The designer says she is creating a luxurious new office, separate from the living spaces, with custom cabinetry as well as state-of-the-art internet and audiovisual systems. There is wood paneling from The House of Silver Lining, known for their “exquisite millwork,” Fromental wallpapers for the living and dining rooms, a custom desk, and an antique rug from Mansour Modern. Sara Bengur of Sara Bengur Interiors advises her clients to make their work space “very comfortable, with a good desk chair for long periods of sitting.” One person has asked her to create optimal lighting in the office for Zoom calls, and to create a backdrop that is “both professional and pleasing.” As well as adding a desk that can

convert to a stand-up when needed, Bengur is also incorporating a colorful custom-made bulletin board, which “looks like artwork but functions beautifully.” Mary Valaika of Mary Valaika Designs is also increasingly asked to create dedicated and ergonomically correct Zoom stations, with a table and chair at the optimal height. Valaika says that clients also seem to have a newfound appreciation of being at home. She recounts that one client texted to say, “I’m sitting in my living room and I’m in awe of how beautiful it is,” even though it was a project that the designer completed eight years earlier. “People have never spent so much time in their homes. New Yorkers were always on the go, but now they are really enjoying their spaces,” she says. “Homes have become a sanctuary, and people have come to appreciate the beauty and serenity of a peaceful, safe place. Which is, of course, what a home should be.” SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Pieces of Eight As the interiors universe opens up again, Harriet Mays Powell rounds up eight brands inside the Decoration & Design Building favored by designers for their craftsmanship and color

Mokum The contemporary textiles brand (available from the Holly Hunt showroom) is branching out into bolder patterns and color combinations through its Club Tropicalia collection, at right. jamesdunloptextiles.com/ brands/mokum

Dedar This old-school Italian brand melds historical patterns and fine craftsmanship but also creates unexpectedly modern fabrics and wall coverings. Left: Pensiero Selvaggio wallpaper. dedar.com/us

Pierre Frey A great place to find striking, one-of-a-kind statement fabrics, including from Le Manach, the old-fashioned French textile house with traditional patterns and motifs that can be customized. Left: Sam Baron screen by David Nicolas. pierrefrey.com/en

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PAGE 1 TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: PENSIERO SELVAGGIO: COURTESY OF DEDAR; SPENCER, SAVILE ROW: COURTESY OF HOLLAND & SHERRY; SAM BARON SCREEN BY DAVID NICOLAS: COURTESY OF PIERRE FREY; D&D BUILDING ENTRANCE: COURTESY OF LAWLOR MEDIA GROUP

Holland & Sherry This house has a wide range of top-notch fabrics, from handsome wools and blocked prints to alpaca, silk velvet, wide wale corduroy, moleskin, and bespoke embroidery. Below: From the Spencer, Savile Row fabric collection. hollandandsherry.com

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Loro Piana Renowned for its cashmere, the Italian fashion and fabrics company produces textiles in myriad colors and textures, with stripes being a perennial favorite. New wallpapers and an extensive blanket collection are their latest additions. Right, Surfinia Sofio shawl. loropiana.com/textile

Élitis The French wallpaper house is known for its graphic muralsized wall coverings, as well as fabrics, wallpapers, and accessories. Above: Élitis’s Panoramique pattern. elitis.fr/en Kravet The century-old furniture and fabric company Kravet offers everything from workhorse fabrics to the ultra-luxurious, in both its own lines and the special brands it features, including Brunschwig & Fils, Métaphores, and Verel de Belval. Right, Koepka floor lamp; below: Harper Swivel Chair. kravet.com

PAGE 2 TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: SURFINIA SOFIO SHAWL: COURTESY OF LORO PIANA; SHANGHAI PEACOCK WALLCOVERING: COURTESY OF SCHUMACHER; PANORAMIQUE: COURTESY OF ÉLITIS; HARPER SWIVEL CHAIR, KOEPKA FLOOR LAMP: COURTESY OF KRAVET

Entrance to the D&D Building in Manhattan

Schumacher Creative director Dara Caponigro has revived the fabric brand’s iconic archival patterns (ikats and Chiang Mai Dragon, to name two) to create contemporary designs, along with numerous designer collaborations with leading brands such as Williams Sonoma, including reissuing the line created in the ’50s with Frank Lloyd Wright. Left: Shanghai Peacock wallcovering. fschumacher.com SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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AN AMERICAN IN PARRISH Fairfield Porter’s Portrait of John Myers at the Parrish Art Museum.

Endless Summer September is the new August in the Hamptons. Nancy Kane takes a peek at the restaurants, hotels, and boutique stores enjoying the unexpectedly extended season

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or decades, Labor Day in the Hamptons meant a return to parking on Main Street and near-deserted beaches. But among the cancellations of 2020 is Tumbleweed Tuesday, as the day after that long weekend, when peace traditionally returns to the region, is known. September is the new August. The season was unprecedented in a multitude of ways. Homes sold for record sums as demand rocketed from COVID-19 refugees and those settling for a rental paid sky-high prices. Meanwhile, the precarious nature of the school year means that East End private institutions such as the Ross School saw an upturn in enrollment for fall. Avenues: The World School (tuition at its Manhattan branch runs at almost $60,000 a year) also opened up a campus in East Hampton. As evidenced by the resounding lack of Sunday afternoon traffic heading west on 27, there is nothing traditional about 2020.

PORTRAIT OF JOHN MYERS: © FAIRFIELD PORTER, COURTESY OF THE PARRISH ART MUSEUM

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POOL IMAGES: COURTESY OF THE MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE

SUN LOUNGERS Right and below: poolside at The Montauk Beach House.

“I realized my clients were not returning to Manhattan until next year—this is an amazing opportunity to stay close to my loyal clients and to be in front of a new captive audience,” fashion designer Alvin Valley, whose eponymous store opened on Jobs Lane at the end of July, told Avenue. He is not alone. Shopping in Southampton and East Hampton has seen a slew of top-tier brands opening outposts midsummer. Forget pop-ups, these stores have taken year-long leases. Luxury linens and home brand Sferra opened a year-round shop, and report that business has been booming. Swiss fashion house Akris is staying open in Southampton through December, as is the British luxury accessories purveyor Asprey, which opened The Asprey Bar at the beginning of the summer. (After all, second-home owners need that Octopus glassware decanter—now more than ever). And longstanding flower and gift shop Topiaire has never been busier. “People needed flowers, candles, candy—anything to make them feel better while confined to their homes,” said owner Erin Meaney. “We were open throughout, and we look forward to the continuing business of Southampton’s new COVID refugees.” In East Hampton, Aerie’s Unsubscribed opened early summer and so far has no plans to close. “We know that many visitors to the Hamptons this summer will extend their stays through the fall season,” said Aerie’s Jennifer Foyle. Meanwhile Italian handbag brand Devi Kroell in East Hampton will be open on additional days for the first time, according to longtime manager Randall Hemmings. “Normally by midAugust people would leave because of schools. I don’t think that’s the situation this fall—therefore we are staying open seven days in September and October, and in November and December we may go to five or we may stay with seven.” Neighboring jewelry store Mayfair Rocks has also rethought its fall schedule. “All our second-home owners have let us know they are here for the foreseeable future,” said owner Justin Kulchinsky. “We’ve had a store in SoHo for twelve years. But we’re focusing on this market out here.” In Montauk, Wyld Blue owner Sasha Benz said, “We don’t anticipate the season ending anytime soon, so we plan to stay open for our customers while they are still on the East End after Labor Day.” SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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Dining out is also extending into the fall months, despite East End restaurants making do with outdoor seating and 50 percent occupancy. (They could recoup losses with a longer season.) Amagansett’s popular La Fondita will be mixing margaritas right up until Halloween, and a classic Hamptons mainstay, the Old Stove Pub, got a new (year-round) lease on life from local real estate broker Joe DeCristofaro after a three-year closure. With a revamped menu (and some traditional favorites) this Greek restaurant in Sagaponack opened in July and promises to energize the Hamptons restaurant scene with live music and events all year round. Kissaki, which honors Japanese culinary tradition, also opened in July in Water Mill and will offer a $200 “omakase” 86

(featuring 16 of Chef Mark Garcia’s signature pieces, a soup, appetizer, hand roll and 12 pieces of the chef ’s choice of nigiri), well into the autumn months. NAIA (“sea nymph” in Greek), at the Capri, Southampton hotel, serving farm-totable Greek cuisine, along with a DJ or classical violinist accompaniment, has also opted to stay open all year. The popular Moby’s in East Hampton, with its beautiful garden that provides ample room for outdoor seating, will stay open at least until the end of October. In Montauk, another old favorite, Kenny’s Castaways, installed a new chef, Salvatore Olivella (also the chef at Montauk Beach House) who designed a new menu for fall. Meanwhile Andrea Anthony, co-owner of seasonal favor-

ite Lobster Roll, aka LUNCH, said the Montauk restaurant would continue to run throughout September and October. T-Bar, in Southampton, which usually wraps things up around Labor Day, will stay open until the end of October. And just in time for the Jewish holidays, Ess-A-Bagel will deliver to the Hamptons, featuring The Daytripper—brunch for six, and the Weekender for 12 hungry guests craving salmon, lox, and more. On the North Fork, the comfortable, colorful, family-run French restaurant Demarchelier did what many Manhattanites did—put down roots out east. A beloved Upper East Side staple, it opened to such success at the Menhaden Hotel in Greenport that they are expanding to a bistro down the street.

PIZZA: COURTESY OF MOBY’S; LOBSTER ROLL: COURTESY OF LUNCH; WEEKENDER BAGEL: ASHLEY SEARS, COURTESY OF ESS A BAGEL

CARBS & FISHES Clockwise from above: LUNCH’s famous Lobster Roll; a weekend bagel from Ess-a-Bagel, which now delivers to the Hamptons; pizza at Moby’s in East Hampton.

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COMIDA CENTRAL Left: tacos at La Fondita in Amagansett; below: a cocktail at Moby’s.

“We’ve felt that everyone is looking to hang on to summer for a little longer.”

TACOS: ERIC STRIFFLER, COURTESY OF LA FONDITA; COCKTAIL: COURTESY OF MOBY’S

—Jayma Cardoso, owner of The Surf Lodge

Even hotels got in on the act by staying open later in the season or offering first-ever promotions. Baker House, for example, offers an extended stay package through the end of October. The Southampton Inn, which is keeping its pool and restaurant open an extra five weeks until Columbus Day, is offering similar packages. Not a bad option for when the in-laws visit. And if the excellent waves in the fall are not enough to get you to Montauk, summer favorites such as Ruschmeyer’s (hotel and restaurant) and the Montauk Beach House bar and restaurant will stay open through November for lunch five days a week and brunch on the weekends. ONEYOGAHOUSE will hold a retreat at the Montauk Beach House at the end of September. Solé East will

keep their doors open at least through Halloween and will offer DJs, wine dinners, and live entertainment during dinner—programming usually reserved for summer. “We’ve felt that everyone is looking to hang on to summer a little longer and we want to offer that escape to The Surf Lodge friends and family as best and safely as we can! To do that, we decided to extend our season to the end of September this year,” said Jayma Cardoso, owner of The Surf Lodge. In accordance with the topsy-turvy nature of the season, museums have gotten creative and have taken things out-of-doors. The Parrish Art Museum is offering Art in the Meadow—an initiative created to activate the museum’s landscape

and provide engagement with art outdoors. The Southampton History Museum turns its “Insiders View” into an “Outsiders View”—after ten years of hosting interior tours of architecturally and historically significant homes, the museum is stepping outside to offer tours of Southampton’s most beautiful gardens and landscape settings. The Southampton Arts Center will continue its offerings of Sunday documentaries, “Job’s Pub” piano bar nights, thought-provoking talks, and monthly sound meditations. Their current exhibit, 2020 Vision, presenting multiple artists’ perspectives and observations on all that has occurred in society over the past year, will run through December. As Andrea Anthony of Montauk’s LUNCH told Avenue, “Long live summer!” SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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MANSION FAMILY Blue-chip art galleries occupy each of these period townhouses on the corner of East 79th Street and Madison Avenue.

A NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT

MADISON AVENUE MARCHES ON AS MANHATTAN REJUVENATES AFTER OUR SUMMER OF LOCKDOWN, WRITES JOSHUA DAVID STEIN, NOWHERE IS BLOSSOMING MORE THAN THIS HISTORIC UPPER EAST SIDE PRECINCT PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHN KERNICK

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s far as stately pleasure-domes go, Xanadu has little on Madison Avenue. This stretch of the Upper East Side, approximately between 59th and 78th Streets, shimmers with the incandescent beauty of worldly goods. Here the finer things in life, frequently metaphoric, are literal. These blocks are home to renowned perfumers, cashmere purveyors, Neapolitan tailors, rare-book dealers, leather artisans, haute couturiers, canny gallerists, and chefs skilled in satisfying demanding palates. Here ticks the mechanical fruit of Swiss watchmakers, beside acres of high-thread-count bedding, plush velvet slippers, and Italian nightshirts. There are (almost) more luxury leather handbags than there are bejeweled hands to hold them. It all seems so established now, but as late as the mid-1800s, the rolling fields of Lenox Hill were still largely home to sheep. Madison Avenue (named, like the square at its southern end, for President James Madison) was initially created as a service street for its tonier neighbors, Fifth and Park Avenues. But, after Central Park started opening around 1860, the area “converted within a few years into the finest residential parts of the city,” according to the 1898 book The History of Real Estate. Palatial townhouses in fashionable styles like Neo-Grec, Italianate, and Queen Anne turned the former grazing land into an architectural Disney World. The city’s elite, including diamond dealer Charles L. Tiffany and sugar merchant Charles Sneff, moved in. Some of their houses, like the Rhinelander Mansion, which belonged to the eccentric widow Gertrude Rhinelander, still stand. But many were replaced by apartment buildings of comparable luxury, with names like the Verona, in the early 20th century. The Tiffany mansion, for instance, was demolished to make way for a 16-floor apartment building whose bas reliefs of cavorting animals is a familiar site to architecturally minded boulevardiers. In popular imagination, the lower stretch of Madison Avenue is still associated with advertising, where, during the 1930s, nearly 40 percent of the American Association of Advertising Agencies were located. But above 60th Street was where one did the shopping itself. Much of Madison’s current commercial character is due to a 1922 order by the Manhattan borough president prohibiting stoops—or any other protuberance—jutting

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GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

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BISTRO-THEQUE Clockwise from left: La Goulue’s managing partner, Bernard Collin, peruses the menu; manager Mohamed Daoud welcomes guests to open-air dining; the restaurant’s classic steak au poivre vert de Madagascar, $58, as prepared by executive chef Antoine Camin.

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beyond the property line onto the sidewalk. Soon, the first and second stories of many townhouses became storefronts. The footprints of those townhouses (between 15 and 40 feet wide, although most were 24 feet) still define the dimensions of many stores. Meanwhile, even as luxurious apartment buildings began to replace townhouses, the tradition of ground floor retail continued. Meanwhile, on the side streets and second floors, gallerists set up shop. Many were fresh from Europe, bringing canvases by the likes of Picasso and Braque. Before the art world moved downtown—to East 10th Street and finally Chelsea— Madison Avenue, where both the collectors and the gallerists lived side by side, was the art center of New York. Like so many modern capitals, the area has become increasingly international in the last twenty years. Many of the smaller boutiques have fled north. As Herbert Peress, the 85-year-old owner of Peress of Madison Avenue, tells Avenue: “The mom-and-pops began moving up, but we’re still here.” His neighbors like Zitomer, a local department store, Art Bag, and Gentile’s Fine Foods continue to find space on the all-important Madison Avenue even as the glittering flagships of brands like Hermès, Coach, Ralph Lauren, and more continue to flourish. Of course, as it did everywhere from the Ginza to the Champs-Élysées, COVID-19 put Madison Avenue on ice for much of 2020. But now the neighborhood is purring back to life and flowing with, as Coleridge might say, the milk of Paradise.

LA GOULUE Of the once plentiful bistros that catered to peckish Madison Avenue denizens, La Goulue is a rare survivor. Opened first in 1972 at 746 Madison Avenue, in what is now a Loro Piana boutique, La Goulue moved to its current location—a side street but no less charmant—in 2018 after nearly a decade-long hiatus. But the patron Jean Denoyer reinstalled all the wood paneling, brass rails, and the old mirrors. Those long enough in the tooth can hardly tell the difference. The menu itself, by longtime chef Antoine Camin, may be an homage to an earlier time—steak au poivre vert, le tartare du thon Japonais, and profiteroles—but is executed with pizzazz and refinement.

ROSENBERG & CO. DEALER’S CHOICE Marianne Rosenberg is the fourth generation to run her family’s gallery, Rosenberg & Co.

HERE THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE, FREQUENTLY METAPHORIC, ARE LITERAL.

Rosenberg & Co. occupies the ground floor of a new-French classic townhouse on East 66th, and its owner, Marianne Rosenberg—“a real Madison Avenue girl,” according to herself—is the latest in the long line of gallerists. “My great-grandfather founded his own gallery in Paris in 1878; my grandfather, Paul, was Pablo Picasso’s dealer, one of the most well-known art dealers there ever was,” she says. After Paul relocated to America in 1940, her own father, Alexandre, after serving with the Free French during World War II, arrived in 1946 and ran the place for forty years. Now, the lineage is continued by Marianne, whose tastes are rather more—a recent exhibition featured the work of Vietnamese painter Nguyen Cam. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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PALATIAL TOWNHOUSES IN FASHIONABLE STYLES LIKE NEO-GREC, ITALIANATE, AND QUEEN ANNE TURNED THE FORMER GRAZING LAND INTO AN ARCHITECTURAL DISNEY WORLD

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COURTESY OF LORO PIANA

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS Clockwise from left: Loro Piana’s New York flagship wouldn’t feel right anywhere else; Marcel Breuer’s Brutalist masterpiece has shown work belonging to the Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum, and next year will house the Frick Collection; Zitomer’s three-floor department store is a neighborhood gem.

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THE BREUER BUILDING What to call the Brutalist concrete structure on the corner of East 75th Street is a vexing question. Completed in 1966 by famed Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, the building signaled the arrival of the Whitney Museum of Art into the neighborhood and the ascendance of Madison Avenue as the center of New York’s artistic ferment. The Whitney left in 2014, returning to its downtown roots in a shimmering Renzo Piano building, and was replaced the following year by an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But, after that august institution closed in March due to COVID-19 restrictions, the nearby Frick Collection announced it would be taking up residence next year while its landmark Fifth Avenue mansion undergoes yearslong renovations. Perhaps, therefore, it is wisest to call the building after its founder. For that will never change—plus, he deserves the credit. The building itself, which replaced a series of 1880s row houses, is a study in bold design and imposing angles, as cogent an argument as any that the tony precincts of the Upper East Side don’t preclude gutsy experimentation.

SEEKING CINDERELLA Herbert Peress, of his namesake boutique, presents a bouquet of women’s slippers.

PERESS OF MADISON AVENUE The Peress family’s roots in retail stretch back to Baghdad, where the business’s founder, Henry, was born and from whence he emigrated in 1926. Once here, he settled in the Bronx, selling silk stockings. Among his customers was his future wife, Elsie. The Peress family gradually made their way to Madison Avenue in the 1950s, with merchandise that began with girdles and camisoles but now includes custom-made Italian nightshirts for gentlemen as well as the usual fine lingerie, cashmere socks, and the like. Its current owner is 85-year-old Herbert Peress, a former engineer who returned to the business, and its current location, between 80th and 81st, is its fifth location. “We used to be where Chanel is now,” says Peress, “But what Chanel wants, Chanel gets. So, we moved.”

ZITOMER News of the retail apocalypse apparently hasn’t reached Zitomer, the long-standing three-story independent department store and pharmacy at 969 Madison Avenue. Founded in 1950 by Bernie Zitomer, today the store still caters to a neighborhood clientele—“It’s where I get my medicine,” says Herbert Peress—with everything from Marvis toothpaste to Mason Pearson hair brushes to Henri Bendel bags, an expansive selection of children’s clothes, and, in a nod to these uncertain times, bejeweled face masks.

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HERMÈS For years, the low-rise neoclassical building by McKim, Mead & White, on the corner of 62nd housed Louis Sherry’s eponymous restaurant, Sherry’s. The place was a Dionysian temple of gustatory abandon, being a restaurant, a tearoom, and an ice cream parlor. After Sherry, one of New York’s greatest restaurateurs, closed up shop, the building became home to the fast-casual brand The Limited but, in a sign of Madison Avenue’s rising fortunes, in 2000 Hermès unveiled its flagship, Today the windows are still filled, though this time by svelte mannequins, while, for those interested, Louis Sherry’s grandson continues to make chocolate in lovely lavender tin boxes.

LOCAL LANDMARKS Clockwise from right: the new Ralph Lauren store at 888 Madison Avenue is a tribute to the Rhinelander Mansion just across the street, in which the retailer has a flagship; the Carlyle Hotel, which houses the famously muraled Bemelmans Bar.

When, in 1983, Ralph Lauren acquired what was known as the Rhinelander Mansion on the corner of 72nd Street, the crown jewel of Madison Avenue was in a rough state. Built by the reclusive heiress Gertrude Rhinelander to recall the chateaux of the Loire Valley in the last years of the 19th century, she never took residence, instead choosing to live across the street. Meanwhile, the spectacular house sat unoccupied but for a growing collection of European antiques. Over the years, it had been slowly degraded as florists, pharmacists, and deli men made their own use of the building. But in 1986, Lauren took control, restoring—or rather reimagining—the Rhinelander Mansion in his own image. With 82,000 square feet of Honduran mahogany used in the staircase alone, Lauren borrowed from the great buildings of the world to create the clublike fantasy. (The staircase is, for example, an exact replica from London’s Connaught hotel.) Today, the Rhinelander shines as Ralph Lauren’s fantasy world made real, while across the street, at 888 Madison, the women and children’s store occupies a ten-year-old Beaux Arts mansion that looks centuries older than its age.

HOTEL CARLYLE Replacing more than a dozen houses on Madison as well as 76th and 77th Streets, the forty-story Carlyle Hotel towered above the avenue when it was built in 1930, and it still does. Today the luxury hotel is perhaps best known for Bemelmans Bar, with its famous mural by Ludwig Bemelmans (creator of the Madeline stories) and its gold leaf ceiling, and Café Carlyle, which continues to be one of the best rooms in New York (and that is to say the world) to see cabaret. 94

LÉVY GORVY GALLERY Housed in an imposing four story neo-Federal brick building, Lévy Gorvy is the joint venture of two art world luminaries: Dominique Lévy, an internationally renowned gallerist, and Brett Gorvy, formerly the chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s. Inside these brick walls in hushed rooms are displayed the work of some of the 20th century’s most famous names: Basquiat, Calder, de Kooning, Picasso, Warhol, Clemente, and more. Here fortunes are made (and traded in return for canvases) so it is fitting that this building was once a branch of the Bank of New York.

BEMELMANS BAR BY DON RIDDLE COURTESY OF THE CARLYLE; COURTESY OF RALPH LAUREN

RALPH LAUREN

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GENTILE’S FINE FOODS The obituary of the small gourmet greengrocer in New York City has been a work in progress for years. The disappearance of Dean & Deluca in 2019 seemed the coup de grâce. But that isn’t considering the nearly century-old Gentile’s Fine Food on Madison Avenue and 83rd Street. Founded in 1928 by Gennaro Gentile, an emigrant from Salerno, Gentile’s Fine Foods has been coddling fruits, vegetables, and Madison Avenue shoppers for nearly a century. Today, the grocery store, which has hopscotched up and down the avenue, is run by Anthony Gentile, Gennaro’s grandson, and maintains the founder’s impossibly high standards of service and quality. Fruit is individually wrapped and kept in trays; bushels of basil are hand selected. Famous for their roasted chicken and veal-and-pork meatballs (both family recipes), Gentile’s staff will even shop at other neighborhood stores (like grabbing a loaf from Eli Zabar’s E.A.T. across the street) to include in their customers’ delivery orders. Where else offers service like that?

HELLO NEIGHBOR Harry Solomon (left) is a 50-year veteran of Gentile’s market, which has been supplying Madison Avenue with delicacies like crab cakes (above) since 1927. Opposite: When the bag, shoes, coat, and highlights match…that’s a local.

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HEIR CARE

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“THE PANDEMIC HAS THROWN PEOPLE INTO A REPRODUCTIVE PANIC.”

The Hope Doctor

ILLUSTRATIONS BY RICARDO SANTOS; DR. BRIAN A. LEVINE BY PALOMA SENDREY

In five years, Dr. Brian Levine’s CCRM has become one of New York’s leading fertility practices, writes Shivani Vora

W

hen I was trying to conceive more than eight years ago, I became familiar with the drab, f a c t o r y l i ke w a i t i n g rooms of fertility clinics. They often contained rows of women biding their time before appointments in a windowless, cramped space devoid of amenities, with beige tones everywhere to be seen. But on a recent visit to CCRM, on the 21st floor of a modern midtown Manhattan building, I was in a light-filled, airy setting with gleaming white floors and walls and views of the city skyline. I listened to a catchy playlist with Coldplay songs and could choose from refreshments like flavored sparkling waters, Luna bars, and SkinnyPop popcorn. I was there to interview Dr. Brian Levine, the founding partner and practice director, who is board-certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility as well as obstetrics and gynecology. Since setting up his practice in 2015, CCRM, based in Denver, has earned a reputation of being among the leading New York fertility clinics. In the wake of COVID-19, fertility specialists are more sought after than ever. Birth rates in the United States have declined for five years in a row: according to the Vital Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the provisional number of births in 2019 was 3.74 million, the lowest since 1985. Any woman like me who has struggled with infertility knows that the process of trying to get pregnant is fraught with anxiety. Fertility treatments, especially pricey IVF, is practically a fulltime job and strains the best of relationships, not to mention finances—and that’s when circumstances are normal. The current global pandemic has created an unprecedented urgency for fertility services.

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“Dealing with COVID-19 on top of an already difficult situation of infertility compounds the unknowns,” says Barb Collura, the president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, a nonprofit patient advocacy group. “People are afraid and have questions that are hard to answer. If they get pregnant and test positive for COVID-19, for example, can they pass the virus onto their unborn child?” Dr. Levine, 40, is more direct. “The pandemic has thrown people into a reproductive panic,” he says. Many women are turning to IVF without first trying to conceive on their own. “They don’t meet the definition of infertility, but they want to get pregnant now,” he says. “I’ve had several patients 100

who are moving out of New York because of the virus and want to conceive before leaving the city because they think that the best fertility care is here.” Other new patients, says Dr.  Levine, are unsure how the virus will play out and are preparing for a later pregnancy by undergoing IVF and freezing their eggs, or harvesting embryos. A third camp is concerned about job security and wants to take advantage of a New York State law that mandates companies with more than 100 employees must cover three cycles of IVF treatment. “People are telling me that they think they’re going to lose their jobs and want to use their benefits while they still have them,” says Dr. Levine.

COVID-19 may have accelerated his clients’ desire to get pregnant or protect their future chances, but Dr. Levine says that a major difference among his patients today compared with ten years ago is that they don’t want twins. “There was a time going back to the ’90s when it seemed like every woman in New York was giving birth to twins,” he says. “People today don’t want the expenses that come with raising two kids or the complications of a pregnancy with twins. Ninety-five percent of the transfers we do at CCRM are of single embryos.” This statistic fits into the larger trend of childbirth in the United States. According to the Practice Committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, in 2000, more than two-thirds

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MANY WOMEN ARE TURNING TO IVF WITHOUT FIRST TRYING TO CONCEIVE ON THEIR OWN.

of all IVF transfer procedures in the United States were of three or more embryos, but between 1999 and 2008, this number dropped from 70 percent to 39 percent. New IVF cycles, along with all other fertility treatments, halted during the lockdown, but when CCRM restarted them in late April, Dr. Levine saw a surge of new patients. “We did 100 IVF cycles in May, compared with 75 last May, and could have done many more without social distancing protocols,” he says. Beyond the doors of the waiting room, Dr. Levine and his three other equal partners, all women, have stylish offices. The exams rooms are bright and spotless, while the typically sterile operating rooms, where women undergo embryo transfers, resemble private hospital suites with comfortable beds. An acupuncturist is on hand for sessions immediately before and after transfers, as well as during ongoing treatment. In the post-transfer recovery room, there’s another upbeat playlist and more snacks. Amenities aside, CCRM has serious medical chops: the clinic is a pioneer in that it does all genetic testing on embryos onsite, instead of using an outside company. It is also a leader in frozen embryo transfers and complicated cases, such as when a woman has recurring miscarriages. Chromosomal abnormalities are one of the biggest reasons why women miscarry. To reduce the chances of a loss, the original CCRM in Denver began freezing embryos instead of doing fresh transfers. These embryos were then tested for genetic abnormalities and transferred only if the results indicated that none existed. This may be standard practice among fertility clinics today, but when Dr. Levine partnered with CCRM, the office was at the forefront of treatments. He says that is the reason why his practice has low miscarriage rates of around four to five percent.

Elite medical facilities like CCRM typically don’t accept insurance and tend to have high price tags, but Dr. Levine insists that his is more democratic. Although the practice only accepts Progyny, an insurance for fertility benefits that many employers don’t offer, he says that no patient is turned away. “We find a way to work with you,” he says. Paying out of pocket, while not inexpensive, isn’t catastrophic: a 90-minute consultation with Dr. Levine or one of his partners is $600, and a typical IVF cycle costs $25,000: definitely not the priciest in town. Dr. Levine’s patients praise his personable bedside manner and accessibility, which includes his cell phone number. “I’d much rather you ask me than google something and make yourself worried,” he says. Valerie Katsorhis had two children via IVF with Dr. Levine—one using her eggs and another using eggs from her wife, Tyler. “I had an awful experience at a previous clinic where the procedures happened in the basement of a brownstone,” she says. “Dr. Levine turned a nightmare into my dreams come true. Every time I went to see him, I felt like I was going to see an old friend, not a doctor. I looked forward to the visits.” I was also charmed by his manner. We discussed our mutual love of long hikes and mezcal, and our shared 4:30 a.m. wake-up time. “I try to treat every patient like I treat my wife,” he says. “My dad died of pancreatic cancer, and doctors would always talk at us. I want to talk to you.” Dr. Levine’s personal brush with pregnancy loss is another factor behind his empathetic personality. Prior to giving birth to their daughter, Izabel, 3, his wife, Alexis, a former merchandiser for Ralph Lauren, had an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in miscarriage. “That was hard, but we’re so grateful for Izabel. She’s the love of my life,” he says. “I know firsthand what it means to have a healthy child.” SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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HEIR CARE

New York is home to some of the best special education schools in the country. Parents of children with learning differences should take note, says Heather Hodson

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ack-to-school season is arguably the most stressful time of year for families recalibrating after the long summer break. But for parents of children who face attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dysgraphia, and other learning challenges, every month of the school year can be a white-knuckle ride. “A competitive mainstream classroom requires you to be an expert generalist. You have to turn up every single day and be good at every single subject, and if you’re not, you have to show up tomorrow and fail again,” says Dr. Scott Gaynor, head of school at the Stephen Gaynor School, an independent special education school for children with learning differences on the Upper West Side.

©DAVID SUNDBERG/ESTO

Learning Curveball

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“New York is a boutique city, and I think the schools reflect that.” —Dr. Scott Gaynor, the Stephen Gaynor School

©PAUL WARCHOL

HAPPY CAMPUS: Inside the Stephen Gaynor School, located close to Central Park. Opposite: A child at the school learns to read.

“In school you’re held accountable for everything. That’s a big burden for a child to handle.” New York’s unique educational landscape, with its academically competitive, mission-focused private and specialty public schools, can make that burden intolerable for children with learning differences—sometimes called “learning disabilities,” depending on the educator. Unfortunately, however hardworking or bright a child may be (and by definition, a child diagnosed with a “learning disability” (LD) is intelligent but has an underlying academic challenge that impedes their ability to reach their potential), there is a limited tolerance among New York’s independent schools for accommodating a wide range of learners. The child who struggles to keep up often ends up being counseled out. “New York is a boutique city, and I think the schools reflect that,” Dr. Gaynor says. “If you put your child in a school for kindergarten, you may not understand right away what their learning style is and what the best match is, but very soon you’ll find out that, whether it’s a progressive school or a more structured traditional school, your child may not fit that mold.” The good news is that New York is home to some of the country’s most renowned special education schools for children with these kinds of learning challenges. Independent, coeducational special ed schools such as Stephen Gaynor, cofounded by Dr. Gaynor’s grandmother in 1962; the Windward School in lower Manhattan (sister to the Westchester campus in White Plains); the Gateway School on the Upper West Side; and Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn, among others, excel at teaching nontraditional learners with highly skilled educators and individualized programs, which include multisensory instruction and class sizes as small as three students. “Our kids need specialized teaching methods, accommodations, and modifications for them to be successful,” explains Debbie Zlotowitz, head of school at the Quaker college preparatory school Mary McDowell, which has three campuses in Brooklyn. “We have to have a huge toolbox, because kids learn differently, and at different SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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HEIR CARE

rates. They need to have teachers who will adapt their materials to meet them where they are. You need to be able to work with all different modalities because you need to see how kids are processing information. Do they do it through the auditory channel, the visual channel, the kinesthetic channel, or a combination? So we ask, ‘What are the different tools we have to reach students?’” A learning disabilities school may come with a hefty price tag—tuition can cost up to $20,000 a year more than the average mainstream city independent school—but under Federal law, New York families can seek reimbursement for a large proportion of the tuition from the NYC Department of Education through the Carter funding law. For those families who cannot afford to pay the tuition upfront, the Connors funding provision allows families to have their tuition “directly funded” by their school district. (In order to pursue Carter or Connors funding, parents must file for an “impartial hearing.”) And many parents feel a specialized education is worth any price when considering not just the academic but also the 104

emotional toll on a child who repeatedly struggles in the wrong learning environment. “Adolescence is tough enough,” says Dr. Gaynor. “You don’t want to add the stigma of not being successful in school.” This is why educators in the special ed field always recommend acting sooner rather than later. “I’m a huge believer in early intervention,” says Dr. Gaynor, whose school begins at pre-K. “As you get older the issues become more complex, and it’s not only the learning challenges that the students have, it’s their emotional approach to learning that may be the barrier, which can become more solidified as they experience failure in school.” With early remediation, some children go on from schools such as Stephen Gaynor and Windward, both of which end at eighth grade, to competitive mainstream private and public schools, while other students opt to remain in a specialized education setting through high school. Mary McDowell Friends School is one of the few LD schools in the city with a high school (the Churchill School and Center on East 29th Street is

another). “We felt we could offer a high school education, and offer it well,” Zlotowitz explains of the decision to add an upper school to the lower and middle schools. “We really wanted to see our students complete the process of being ready to go to college.” Which brings us to the elephant in the room for all parents of children with LDs. “Will my child go to a good college?” is the question every parent asks. With the right specialized education, says Zlotowitz, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” “Our kids get into excellent colleges, some of the top colleges,” she says, listing Vassar, Smith, George Washington, Wesleyan, and NYU among the universities the 2020 graduating class was accepted by. “That’s because they get the support they need to be really successful. You need to know what you need to learn, and you need to know how to advocate for yourself, and you need to know how to get the accommodations you require. Then you will be successful throughout.” Dr. Gaynor agrees: “With the right support, these kids go on to do great things, get into great colleges, and have big careers.”

COURTESY OF MARY MCDOWELL FRIENDS SCHOOL

CORRIDORS OF POWER: An upper school student at Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn.

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“Will my child go to a good college?’ is the question every parent asks.”

The best of New York’s LD Schools

—Debbie Zlotowitz, Mary McDowell Friends School

THE CHURCHILL SCHOOL AND CENTER 301 East 29th Street churchillschoolnyc.org

A K–12 coeducational college preparatory school for students with dyslexia and other languagebased learning disabilities. The 398 students have an 8:1 ratio with teachers. Students go on to a range of four-year colleges, many highly competitive. THE GATEWAY SCHOOL 211 West 61st Street gatewayschool.org

A pre-K–8 coeducational school for students with language-based learning disabilities and attention deficits. The 200 students have an average teacher ratio of 11:2 in the lower school and 5:1 in the middle school, with smaller classes for reading, writing, and math. Students transition to competitive mainstream public and private high schools as well as special ed high schools.

MARY MCDOWELL FRIENDS SCHOOL 20 Bergen Street, Brooklyn 133–135 Summit Street, Brooklyn 23 Sidney Place, Brooklyn new.marymcdowell.org

A K–12 coeducational Quaker college prep school for students with learning disabilities located across a trio of campuses in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens. The 405 students have an average teacher ratio of 6:1, with smaller classes in math and reading. Students go on to a range of four-year colleges, many highly competitive. PARKSIDE SCHOOL 48 West 74th Street parksideschool.org

A K–5 independent school for children with speech and language difficulties and ADHD. The 83 students have a ratio of 8:1 with teachers. Students go on to LD middle schools as well as mainstream ones.

CITY SITE: The Manhattan campus of the Windward School.

STEPHEN GAYNOR SCHOOL 148 West 90th Street stephengaynor.org

A pre-K–8 coeducational school for children with learning differences, from ADHD to speech, language, and reading delays. The large twobuilding campus is close to Central Park. There are 375 students and a student teacher ratio of 11:2. Students transition to competitive mainstream public and private schools as well as LD high schools.

COURTESY OF THE CHURCHILL SCHOOL AND CENTER; COURTESY OF THE WINDWARD SCHOOL

THE WINDWARD SCHOOL 212 East 93rd Street thewindwardschool.org

A coed lower and middle school for children with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities for grades 1–8. Windward also has two campuses in White Plains. The student to teacher ratio is 5:1; 98 percent of students transition to mainstream high schools. WINSTON PREPARATORY SCHOOL 126 West 17th Street winstonprep.edu

ONLY CONNECT: Learning how to learn at the Churchill School.

An independent school for children with language-based and nonverbal learning differences and executive functioning issues for grades 4–12. The 237 students have a teacher ratio of 3:1. An optional 13th grade (aka a “transition year”) prepares students for life after high school. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

NOT THE BLUSHING TYPE: Alicia before her wedding to British actor Edmund Purdom in 1957.

The Affairess Alicia Corning Clark was a thrice-married socialite and aspiring blackmailer who sued JFK after their tryst, writes Aria Darcella

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licia Corning Clark, who died in New York City in 2016 at the age of 79, was capable of packing a lot of drama into a year. In the span of just two months in 1961, she divorced a prominent actor and married a wealthy heir, only to become a widow 13 days later, inheriting her second husband’s $10-million fortune. This was in addition to suing her former lover, John F. Kennedy, and plotting to extort his father. Everything about Alicia’s life happened on a grand stage. Born Barbara Maria Kopczynska in Poland in 1936, she immigrated with her mother

to Boston after World War II, adopting the name Alicia Darr. Over the years she claimed to be both an actress and an artist, but it would be as a globe-trotting socialite that she would make her reputation. With coiffed blond hair, high cheekbones, and a wide smile, Alicia caught the eye of many men, including the future President Kennedy. Many agree that the two at least had a relationship. She would later tell an Italian magazine, with perhaps more regard for narrative flair than the truth, that the pair became engaged in 1951. But, she continued, it was called off by Kennedy’s father, Joseph, because of her Jewish heritage. After the breakup, Alicia went Hollywood. While she didn’t score any film roles, she certainly made a mark on the Tinseltown social scene, being romantically linked in gossip magazines to stars like Gary Cooper and Tyrone Power. She married her first husband, British actor Edmund Purdom, in 1957. The couple moved to Italy, where Edmund was filming on location, but soon became tabloid staples for their public spats and mutual accusations of adultery. In addition to the drama in her then marriage, Alicia nursed a grudge toward her politician ex, and decided to sue JFK, who was then the president-elect. According to the New York Times, Kennedy’s younger brother Robert quietly settled the claim in 1961 for $500,000 (equivalent to $4.3 million today) and had all the details of the suit— including the reason for it—sealed by the court. The settlement was suspicious enough to catch the attention of J. Edgar Hoover. The infamous FBI director informed Bobby Kennedy that he knew of it in 1963—although not even Hoover could say what the suit was about. Whatever the Kennedys were trying to hide, Hoover cautioned that it might have been explosive enough to hurt JFK’s reelection campaign. Meanwhile, Alicia’s marriage to Purdom was in the dumps, and she had moved on to Alfred Corning Clark, the Singer sewing machine heir, who proposed to her with a $95,000 diamond ring. They wed in September 1961, a month after she sued Purdom for divorce.

BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES; ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS/SHUTTERSTOCK

HANKY-PANKY: During Alicia’s marriage to Purdom, their fights and infidelities became the stuff of tabloid fodder.

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ISTITUTO LUCE-CINECITTÀ

FUR TRADE: The future Mrs. Alfred Corning Clark steps out with her divorce lawyer.

WITH COIFFED BLOND HAIR, HIGH CHEEKBONES, AND A WIDE SMILE, ALICIA CAUGHT THE EYE OF MANY MEN, INCLUDING THE FUTURE PRESIDENT KENNEDY.

Less than two weeks after their marriage, Alfred, age 45, died of an ailment some sources identify as cirrhosis of the liver. The grieving widow was now a multimillionaire. Then things really got complicated. According to DNAInfo, Alicia’s former lawyer sued her for unpaid fees in the 1960s. In his suit, the lawyer claimed Alicia was obliged to pursue Purdom for alimony before her inheritance kicked in. But in response, Purdom threatened to disclose her then secret relationship with JFK. So she hatched a convoluted plot to blackmail Joseph Kennedy for $250,000 to keep her ex from going public. Luckily for the Kennedys, her lawyer talked her out of it. After the New York Times published its eyebrow-raising story about the FBI and Alicia’s lawsuit in 1977, however, her connection to the Kennedys faded from public memory. She married for a third time—this time to the health minister of the Bahamas—but divorced in the 1980s. Afterward she lived a quietly lavish life-

style, maintaining a home in the Bahamas and an apartment on the Upper East Side, until her death in 2016, when l’affaire Kennedy came galloping back into public view. While contemporaneous rumors that she and Kennedy had a secret child scarcely seem plausible, the executor of her estate thought them worth investigating in case there was an heir to contest the will. A Freedom of Information Act request was filed, however, no evidence of a child has been uncovered. Alicia left behind a $17.5-million estate, no known next of kin, and competing wills filed in different jurisdictions. The first, lodged in the Bahamas, named three of her Fifth Avenue building staff as beneficiaries; a second, recorded by her lawyer in Manhattan, bequeathed everything to the Humane Society. How like her to go out exactly as she had lived—in an obfuscating haze of money, mystery, and glamour. SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

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ON THE

Avery McCann and Elizabeth Trager

VENI, VIDI

The Southampton Arts Center held an intimate dinner in its Caesar Garden for top donors to the 2020 Patrons Circle. Guests also enjoyed a tour of its new exhibition, “2020 Vision,” which runs through December 27.

Marc Hruschka, Anja Vacca, Simone Levenson, Jessie Zhou, and Homero Niño

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Holly Peterson and Stacey Bronfman

JARED SISKIN/PATRICK MCMULLAN VIA GETTY IMAGES

Dorothy and Michael Reilly

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Cynthia Rowley

Frederique van der Wal

Whitney Fairchild and Nacho Ramos

PARADISE FOUND

Jill Rappaport and the Cinema Society cohosted a drive-in screening of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s new film, Rebuilding Paradise, at her Water Mill horse farm.

PHOTOS BY GUTTER NEIL RASMUS/BFA CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

David Burtka

First Lastname Laurie Andersonand First Lastname

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Jane Krakowski

SPRING 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE Warren Elgort

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Donna Karan and Gabby Karan de Felice

GARDEN PARTIES

From Tribeca to the Hamptons, benefits and charity events have taken place among greenery. Above: supporters of The Stony Brook Southampton Hospital hosted their own coordinated “galas” at home. Bottom left: donors to the The Hope for Depression Research Foundation’s Race of Hope attended a drive-by luncheon. Bottom middle and right: the fashion set gathered at Gitano Garden of Love to support Black Trans Lives Matter.

Jamee and Peter Gregory

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Connie Fleming and Dominique Jackson

WÖLFFER PARTY: COURTESY OF JOEY WÖLFFER; KARAN PARTY: COURTESY OF DONNA KARAN; JAMEE AND PETER GREGORY: ROB RICH/SOCIETYALLURE.COM; ARLENIS SOSA, CONNIE FLEMING, DOMINIQUE JACKSON: BFA

Joey Wölffer’s party

Arlenis Sosa

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Katie Couric and John Molner

POOLSIDE PICTURE SHOW

Donna Karan hosted a screening of IFC Films’ Tesla at her house on the water in East Hampton, full of food, wine, and friends.

Christie Brinkley

PHOTOS BY BFA

Kyle MacLachlan and Desiree Gruber

Maye Musk

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Dive-in theater

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SOCIAL SKILLS

Save Our Socialites! An urgent appeal from Joy Smirnoff, Socialite Benevolent Association president BY POSEY WILT

As you know, the Socialite Benevolent Association is an organization dedicated to serving the thousands of generous New Yorkers who attend the charity gala circuit, thereby supporting our cherished institutions, one gift bag at a time. It’s our way of giving back to those who give back after taking so much. This year, however, the traditional fall benefit season is on hold due to COVID-19. Many events are now taking place either virtually or in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Please note the following adjustments to the calendar: • Bellevue Hospital’s annual comedy fundraiser, Crack Up for a Cause, will this year take place on FaceTime. • The New Yorkers for Children fall benefit will be held over Zoom for two minutes at 10:45 a.m. on a Tuesday, between remote guided reading and 11:15 a.m. playtime for your youngest; 10:30 a.m. indoor soccer practice for your middle child; a 10:50 a.m. Skype doctor’s appointment for the twins; and 11 a.m. advanced calculus for your eldest. • Save Venice will hold its gala in 450 individual gondolas, each floating 30 feet apart, on the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. To welcome each guest, Lauren Santo Domingo will personally swim between gondolas in a Body Glove x Carolina Herrera wetsuit collab, which will also be available on Moda Operandi. • The Rubber Hood Foundation, whose mission is disciplined giving, will host its virtual Whip Poverty event on the pay-per-view platform OnlyFans. • The Manhattan Opera will hand out inflatable sumo wrestler suits, customized to resemble Luciano Pavarotti, to keep donors safely separated at its fall performance and dinner. Female guests will especially appreciate the enhanced social distancing, as Plácido Domingo is expected to attend. • The canceled Couture Museum Gala, sometimes called “fashion’s Oscars,” is inviting donors to post an Instagram selfie in the outfit they would have worn had the party gone ahead. For $25,000, the event’s fashion arbiter host will reply with a comment that at first seems vaguely complimentary, but which upon reflection is actually a withering put-down.

Most importantly, please spare a thought for the pandemic’s invisible victims: New York socialites. Because, if you’ve ever been to a benefit, you know these people don’t like to be invisible. To spread the gala season spirit, I, Joy Smirnoff—the leading philanthropist and party fixture, and president of the Socialite Benevolent Association—am available to come to your home in person to re-create the benefit experience by sitting on your sofa and asking for money. Besides, I already bought the ball gowns, and all that taffeta isn’t going to wear itself. Yours richly,

ILLUSTRATION BY STEPHEN LIM 112

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

• The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Foundation has announced no changes to its annual gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, as it expects everyone will be texting each other from the bathrooms as usual.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER—OCTOBER 2020

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AVENUE September|October 2020 Issue  

Avenue Magazine celebrates what’s great about New York and the achievements of New Yorkers in six print issues per year.

AVENUE September|October 2020 Issue  

Avenue Magazine celebrates what’s great about New York and the achievements of New Yorkers in six print issues per year.

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