Archive for December, 2008

The Longest Au Revoir: Good Riddance 2008, Good Luck 2009

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Tomorrow is the last day on the job for Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello (above right), whose retirement earlier this year was first revealed by Gripebox. On Thursday, Thomas Campbell (above left) becomes the latest director of the greatest art museum in the world. Next year will also bring the publication of my new book, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum (on May 12, 2009). Check back here regularly for more news on the book, the museum and how the latter is coping with the former. Also, … Continue reading

People Who Live in Glass Countries Should Throw Shoes

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Yesterday, I went to the funeral of a friend’s father, Harold Snyder, the generic drug pioneer, Democratic party stalwart and philanthropist. His son Brian Snyder offered some tender reminiscenses —and one well-aimed barb worth repeating. Brian remembered one of his last conversations with his father, who wished that all of his friends would send a shoe to the White House as an Iraqi-style farewell to George W. Bush. A last wish worth honoring, no? Address those babies to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. 20050

The murky world of Ezra Merkin

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Today’s New York Times has an in-depth look at the relationship of 740 Park’s J. Ezra Merkin with the disgraced investment advisor Bernie Madoff, who “could not have had a more effective recruiter than Jacob Ezra Merkin, a lion of Wall Street who would be president of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue,” The Times reports. “Mr. Merkin’s father, Hermann, was the founding president of the synagogue and Herman Wouk, the author, wrote its constitution. “As a direct descendant of the founder of modern Orthodox Judaism and a graduate of Columbia’s English department and Harvard’s law school, Mr. Merkin easily held his … Continue reading

Debt, Divorce and Death

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There are, realtors, say, three reasons why great real estate comes on the market. Death stalks us all — as it has 740 Park this year, where several elderly apartment owners have gone on to less limestoney pastures. But this week, debt and divorce have taken center stage, thanks to hedge hog J. Ezra Merkin‘s misadventures with Bernie Madoff and now, per Page Six, the impending divorce of United Technologies chairman George David, and his “stunning Swedish Countess,” the former Marie Douglas, an illegitimate descendent of Ludwig of Bavaria. The Davids have split up and reconciled before, so maybe they … Continue reading

The Big Chill at 740 Park

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Weeks ago, Gripebox took a look at how some 740 Park residents were faring in the Great Recession. This week another, hedge fund honcho J. Ezra Merkin entered the 9th Circle of Financial Hell when it was revealed that he was one of the big investors — to the tune of $100 million — in disgraced money manager Bernard Madoff‘s alleged Ponzi Fund. Coincidentally, the Merkin-Madoff relationship ties 740 Park to the subject of one of my earlier books, a biography of fashion’s Ralph Lauren. As a boy, Lauren attended the orthodox religious school Salanter Yeshiva, predecessor to today’s SAR … Continue reading

Salve, baby!

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Two of my fellow alumnae from Vassar College (hence the headline, above, which refers to the school’s traditional greeting), publisher Judith Regan and the media gadfly Michael Wolff, are engaged in a colorful public dispute which, given their, ahem, outgoing personalities, is likely to provide tabloid readers with plenty of entertainment in months to come. Having been out of town, I only caught up to it today via this Gawker item. Suffice it to say that in announcing her plan to sue Wolff, Reagan said the following: “Michael Wolff has been obsessed with me and my sex life for close … Continue reading

Blogging at 39,000 feet

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This just to say that flying isn’t fun these days, but I love curbside check-in and in-flight wi-fi and don’t care that I had to pay for both. As long as my bag meets me on the other end, that is.

Wintour Wonderland

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All the hoo-ha this week about rumors of Anna Wintour’s allegedly immanent departure from the editor chair at Vogue reminded me of the days in 1987 when I was assigned by the New York Times to track down a rumor that Wintour, then editor of British Vogue, would be coming to America and replacing American Vogue’s then-editor Grace Mirabella. I called Alexander Liberman, then Conde Nast’s editorial director, who told me it was “possible” Wintour would come to New York “within a certain period of time.” I printed his remark, noting that it wouldn’t calm the rumor mill, and the … Continue reading

Her Body, But How Many Babies?

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A mystery deepened at 740 Park this weekend when the prestigious co-op’s First Lady, Alex Kuczynski (above, right, aka amazon book critic Walter Winchell), published a piece about the birth of her first child via a surrogate. Oddly, the story mentioned neither recents reports that she and her fecund hedge fund husband, Charles Stevenson were divorcing, nor the one that had it that they are currently expecting another child, this one carried by Kuczynski. Inquiring minds await the latest Storkgram from 740 (Kuczynski’s last immaculate production was announced in the lead of the Liz Smith column). Such an announcement would … Continue reading

Real Estate Viagra

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I reviewed Jeff Hyland‘s The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills in yesterday’s New York Post.