Geoffrey Bradfield reports on mogul maneuvers
“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” Sun Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, sums up the hubristic Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics-$40 billion dollars of government funds sluiced into these over-the-top games. Award-winning director Zhang Yimou and a cast of 15,000 performers shook the ether before a pride of presidents and an audience of 90,000. It is hard to imagine what else could be left to do. Even the master of “sleight of hand,” Florenz Ziegfeld, would have been envious of these theatrical feats.
Personally, I have been very busy behind the wheel of my prized Continental Flying Spur, commuting to and from Manchester, Vermont to put the finishing touches to the Equinox Hotel.
Under a spectacular domed tent on Park Avenue, a more local extravaganza saw the New York unveiling of Donald Trump’s Dubai Tower, which is being built on the Palm Jumeirah-heralded as the eighth wonder of the world. In his inimitable style, The Donald displayed a 21st century future in miniature. Among the models, movers, and shakers: the ravishing Heidi Klum, Demi Moore, Naomi Watts, and Countess Sharon Sondes.
Former rival and real estate titan Leona Helmsley keeps surprising us by exposing a tender heart. Before her death last year, she had set up a trust earmarking $8 billion for the care and welfare of Gotham’s pooches. Who would have known that the Queen of Mean would elevate our precious mutts to haute living?
Another well documented pet lover and, in this instance, an anointed queen, has not been as fortunate of late. The current Labour government is in no hurry to assist with faulty roofing and wiring, asbestos in the walls, and, not to mention, the tired décor at Buckingham Palace (to which I can personally attest). The majority of the residence remains untouched since Her Majesty’s coronation in 1952. However, because of mounting royal expenses, the treasury has put a three-year freeze on renovations. We suspect the Corgis will simply have to make do.
My own Yorkshire terrier, Mr. Willoughby, and I enjoyed two worthy events for their protection. The ASPCA Broadway, with its celebrity-studded supporters-the likes of Christie Brinkley, Bernadette Peters, Glenn Close, Mary Tyler Moore, and Nathan Lane. The Humane Society had their own Paws for Style runway show and fetching pet/owner costume combinations. It was a canine riot.
Always a chic annual Manhattan event is the Moroccan Day reception at the United Nations, hosted by Ambassador El Mostafa Sahel and his charming wife. Secretary of Protocol, elegant Najwa Sarkis Stone, first wife of movie director Oliver Stone, effortlessly pulls together a diverse group of dignitaries-including this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
I love North Africa, having recently returned from Morocco myself. I had indulged in a rather splendid riad in the medina of Marrakech, hosting a house party for part of July. The progressive rule of the young King Mohammed VI is much evident and has put a smile on the faces and some overdue coin in the pockets of his people.
Not all Americans are hopping across the Atlantic, however. Whilst speaking with statuesque blonde beauty Paola Pedrignani, owner of the always a modo Amaranth, she commented, surveying her packed establishment, “Europe is dead but New York is happening.” Further evidence: spotting Pierce Brosnan, Lee Radziwill, and Mariska Hargitay on separate occasions at the always at-capacity Cipriani. And this in the middle of August…
The Hamptons remain as frenzied and congested as ever. The Parrish Mid-Summer Party was blessed with perfect weather and beauties like Honorary Chair Debbie Bancroft and Patricia Duff adding to the Arcadian setting. The museum enters an exciting period of expansion, headed by director Terrie Sultan.
With screenings in both the Hamptons and Manhattan, intrepid Peggy Siegal launched the film Bottle Shock. Alan Rickman, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, and other luminaries took in Randall Miller’s indie comedy dealing with the now infamous “Judgment of Paris”, when Napa Valley took its rightful place on the world stage-a must for all wine lovers.
Let’s not leave out high-end jewelry: Piaget held a very sassy party on the rooftop gardens of Rockefeller Center. Gorgeous models sported a dazzling new collection, while guests enjoyed a champagne vista of New York. On the town: Gossip Girl Leighton Meester and Maggie Gyllenhaal. My very first “grown up” wristwatch was a Piaget. The classics flourish and will always prevail.
Personally, I have been very busy behind the wheel of my prized Continental Flying Spur, commuting to and from Manchester, Vermont to put the finishing touches to the Equinox Hotel. Thanks to a $20 million budget, this historic 1769 dowager has been given a 21st century shot in the arm. The new owners HEI and their extraordinary vision (partnering with Range Rover driving school, Orvis fishing, and the British School of Falconry) garnered inclusion in the Starwood’s “Luxury Collection”-quite something to make the cut amongst only 50 top properties worldwide of this illustrious brand.
Saving the best for last, our American hero, Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps, returns with eight gold medals and all the glory associated with this unrivalled accomplishment-not least of which, “a prince’s ransom” of endorsements following in its wake. Sun Tzu’s hypothesis, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized,” was never more apt. Full marks, Michael!