|Sun shining through a West Village building. 2:15 PM. Photo: JH.|
|A sunny winter’s day in New York, for a welcome change although the weatherman says we’re gonna get more cold and some flurries to start the three day weekend.
Lunch at Michael’s was about as quiet as Grand Central Station at rush hour. The ladies in the picture were having their annual Valentine’s luncheon; no waiting around for the guys to pick up the slack. This is an annual event and we didn’t catch them all before it was over, missing Leslie Harwood from Newmark Knight Frank Real Estate, Rosanna Scotto who had to get back to Fox 5, Janice Lieberman, the Today Show consumer reporter and Debbie Kosofsky, Today Show producer. Valentines to all!
At the table in the corner the Mayor was lunching with his lady friend Diana Taylor and his new personal financial advisor Steve Rattner and his wife, former head of the DNC Finance Committee, Maureen White. Right next door on one side was Paramount Pictures numero uno Brad Grey lunching with David Chase, the man who created your Sunday night Sopranos addiction. And next to them were those two darlings of the fashion world, Isaac Mizrahi and Glenda Bailey of Harper’s Bazaar, while across the way from the Lynn Nesbit was lunching with her client, author Jane Fletcher Geniesse who is just polishing up her new book about the history of the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem.
|Alex Duda, Amy Rosenblum, Jeanine Pirro, Jill Martin, Dathy Chermol, and Rachel Miskowiec|
|Meanwhile last night there were parties everywhere. Feeling not the greatest with the hanging-on Manhattan cold that’s going around, I went over to Liz and Jeff Peek’s where they were hosting a very special Valentine’s cocktail and many of the ladies were dressed in red and pearls and many of the gents and at least the waiters were wearing top hats to keep us in the mood. Champagne, wines and delicious hors d’oeuvres were fueling the conversations and the living room, gallery and dining room of the Peeks’ duplex were just a little less subdued than Michael’s. But not much.
The Peeks’ party was a kick off for the Partnership With Children Centennial Gala fundraising drive where Jeff Peek will be honored in May. Mr. Peek is the CEO of CIT Financial which is celebrating its centennial this year, having been founded by Henry Ittleson in 1908.
Partnership for Children places full time social work teams in under-performing New York City schools to support these children in need. It gives them skills to cope with the adversity they face so that they can come to school ready and able to learn.
Mr. Ittleson’s CIT was founded with a vision for financial solution for individuals and businesses. His innovation put CIT on a path of service that it has maintained throughout the Great Depression and throughout booms and busts for the past ten decades as an agent of opportunity now serving one million clients and 30 industries throughout the world. Mrs. Ittleson’s vision now working as Partnership With Children provides a much needed complement to that of her husband’s, and like her husband’s, it prevails a century later to serve the community and the children. Liz Peek serves on the board of Partnership With Children. She describes this institution as “chicken soup for the soul” because what it does is So Good.
I got only a few pics, having got caught up with Liz Fondaras who had been admiring one of the ladies’ diamond earrings when she reminded me of the time she was robbed of all her diamonds a number of years ago, coming home from what used to be called The Diamond Ball.
Four masked gunmen were waiting in the lobby for her, having tied up the doormen. At their “request” she took them up to her apartment where she was relieved of all of her diamonds as well as all of the jewelry that she had kept in her safe. Fortunately, she said the safe wasn’t locked. Had it been, she was so nervous she might have flubbed opening it and endangered herself more. Nothing was insured and everything was taken and never seen again. At least not by her. No more jewelry for her after that, and no more use for the safe. They changed the name of the Diamond Ball after that, incidentally.
Couri Hay who was in on this conversation reminded us of the time years ago when Zsa Zsa Gabor was followed into the elevator of a local hotel where she was relieved of a very large diamond ring.
Back to Valentine’s. Talking to the ladies in red, Alexandra Lebenthal (Mrs. Jay Diamond) and Carole Divet Harting, both of whom work tirelessly to raise funds for the ballet, I learned that Mrs. Harting, who used to be a ballerina with the New York City Ballet (and had been chosen by George Ballanchine), met her husband Bruce, an investment analyst with Lehman Brothers, a number of years ago at the ballet committee’s annual Dancers for the Dance dance when she was still a member of the New York City Ballet. That’s our Valentine’s story for this year.
Meanwhile, as the Peek party was breaking up, several of the guests headed down to Kiss & Fly, the restaurant at 409 West 13th Street in the Meatpacking District where Patrick McMullan was hosting a Valentine’s dinner for Alexandra (Ally) Hilfiger. Not me though: I opted instead for an early-to-bed night to fight off this cold.