Toasting a couple of New Yorkers
At Gotham Hall for the Alliance for the Arts' 5th Annual Benefit. 8:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Last night at Gotham Hall on 36th and Broadway, the Alliance For the Arts held its 5th Annual Benefit and honored brother and sister, Beth Rudin DeWoody and William C. Rudin with the Alliance’s first “Alliance For the Arts Prize.”

The Rudin Family is a major real estate force in New York, beginning with its founder, grandfather of last night’s honorees Samuel Rudin who bought his first piece of real estate in 1902. Whether or not it’s true, legend has it that the family still owns that original acquisition. Sam and Mae Rudin had two sons, Jack and Lewis – Lewis being the father of last night’s honorees. Together the brothers worked with their founding father and built Rudin Management which today owns a large portfolio of residential and commercial real estate in the city.

The Rudin brothers also established themselves in the community as leaders of philanthropy and civic responsibility. The New York Marathon for example was first sponsored by them and indeed, the prize is, as marathoners know, The Samuel Rudin trophy. Old Sam was a runner too.

The two brothers remained a powerful team in the development of the family business and in spreading their largesse to the enhancement of the community. Lewis Rudin, who many regarded as “Mr. New York,” was an extremely sociable character who loved friendship and camaraderie and knew “everybody.” When he died at 74, a little more than a week after 9/11, the funeral was held on Sunday at Central Synagogue at 55th and Lexington and they had to cordon off the block to manage the crowd of mourners which included both President and Mrs. Clinton delivering eulogies.

Beth Rudin DeWoody
The work and efforts of the two brothers – Jack and Lew Rudin – over the past half century has powerfully affected many of the great cultural institutions of the city – from the library to the hospitals, the educational institutions, the parks and the neighborhoods. They also brought up their children sharing this enthusiasm, so it came as no surprise for those hundreds of us who were present last night in Gotham Hall to see Beth and Billy receiving this award.

I’ve known brother and sister for the past thirty or more years and have watched their development from youth to maturity as solid members of the community that is New York. Last night in her acceptance, Beth remarked that “our father taught us that people didn’t come to New York for the clean air, they come here for the culture.” With that kind of tutelage it only follows that brother and sister are actively involved. Beth sits on the boards of the Whitney, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New School, Phoenix House, New Yorkers For Children, the Police Foundation, New York Children’s Foundation. She serves as an adviser for Studio in a School and the Woman’s Project and sits on committees for The New York Public Library and Association for a Better New York (ABNY -- which her father started and her brother now heads) where she chairs the Art and Culture committee.

Beth is also now a major collector. As long as I’ve known her she’s been an acquirer, and accumulator of objects, sculpture, painting, furniture, books. It has been fascinating to see that early passion develop and refine and define itself to the point where today young artists are proud to count her patronage as an affirmation of their achievement.

Bill, who joined the family business in 1979, training under his father and his uncle Jack, now heads the family firm. Following in his father’s footsteps, he, like his sister, has embraced the public responsibilities and tradition of active involvement in the city and has put his own personal mark on the family business by championing the resurgence of Lower Manhattan, giving new life to old properties, both residential and commercial, through converting them into technology-smart buildings.

Bill Rudin blowing out the candles in celebration of his 50th birthday
Besides his chairing ABNY, he’s also chairman of the Battery Conservancy, a board member of the Metropolitan Museum, the New York Hall of Science, New York University, the Real Estate Board of New York and the Alliance for Downtown New York. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York City Marathon Committee and the JPMorgan Chase Regional Advisory Board.

The brother and sister, along with other members of their family, cousins and in-laws are a very close-knit family, remarkably so for a early 21st century family. As long as I’ve known them, and known them fairly closely, and despite whatever difficulties that may have confronted them, I've never seen anything but mutual support and tolerance. Beth has two children, now grown, by artist Jim DeWoodyKyle, now studying in university, and Carlton who is a very talented artist and musician. Bill has two children with his wife OpheliaSamantha, an actress, and Michael.

At the end of Bill’s acceptance last night, he made
reference to the art that does not cover his walls, and the collection he does not possess. He pointed out one quotations carved into the wall of this former savings bank where we were dining: “Waste neither time nor money but use both for your own and your neighbors good.” This, he said, reflected what his late father had taught him and his sister. Then, holding up his award, he singled out his wife Ophelia: “this is for Ophelia,” he said, “she is my Venus de Milo, and I love her.” It was a very touching moment, especially knowing how deeply heartfelt his words were.

Gotham Hall was filled with friends and family of brother and sister, including Eric and Fiona Rudin, Rachel Rudin (their stepmother, widow of Lew), Randy Bourscheidt, president of the Alliance, Paul Beirne, chairman; Howard Blum, Beth’s companion, his sister Marcie Blum; Maria Papachristidis, Ophelia Rudin’s mother; Carlton DeWoody, Michael and Samantha Rudin, Alex Papachristidis, Ophelia’s brother; Michael and Tara Rockefeller, Felicia Taylor, Hillie Mahoney, Sandy Hill, the former Sandy Hill Pittman, in from California, as was Tom Dean; Paul Gunther, Jonathan Soros, Joanne Cassullo, Jonathan Tisch, Laurie Tisch, Alan Wanzenberg, Marcia and Richard Mishaan, Pamela Gross and Jimmy Finkelstein, Tiffany Dubin, Susan Blond, Mildred Brinn, Ben Doller, Frederic Fekkai, Sherwin Goldman, Bobby Harling, Ashton Hawkins and Johnny Moore, Tom Healy and Fred Hochberg, Justin Rockefeller with Indre Vengris, John Sills and Elizabeth Papadopoullos, Andrew Solomon, Elizabeth Stribling, Randall Beale and Carl Lana, Chappy Morris and Melissa Stanley, Fred and Michele Oka Doner (Michele designed the award) and many many more.

There was entertainment by “The Civilians” – Jennifer Morris, Alison Weller, Colleen Werthmann, with Andy Boroson at the piano. The Peter Duchin Orchestar played during dinner and for dancing.
Michele Oka Doner and Michael Pierce
Victor and Betsy Gotbaum with Richard Mittenthal

Jon Tisch, Cindy Farkas, and Paul Beirne

Tom Dean and Donald Tober

Nina and John Richter

Linda Earle and Mildred Brinn
Suzanne and Bob Cochran
L. to r.: Felicia Taylor, Somers White, and Patty Raynes; Elizabeth Stribling, Beth Sapery, Barbara Tober, and Rosita Sarnoff.

L. to r.: Fred Schneider, Joanne Cassullo, Richard Mishaan, and friend; Barbara Bantivoglio, Emily Sussman, and Laurie Tisch.

Michael Rockefeller

Tara Rockefeller and Jonathan Soros
Randy Bourscheidt and Susan Ralston

Nancy Moon and DPC

Dr. Carlin Vickery and James Capalino
Sandy Hill and Frederick Fekkai

Jonathan Farkas

Bill, Beth, and Carlton DeWoody
Jonathan Capehart

L. to r.: John Sills, Elizabeth Papadopoullos, Colin Lively, and Alice Judelson; Michael Rudin with his mom Ophelia Rudin.

David Dinkins, Mark Green, and Bill Rudin

Click image to visit
Sandy Hill and Robert Wilson

Bill and Ophelia Rudin

Chappy Morris and Hillie Mahoney
Eric Rudin

Carl Lana

Joanne Cassullo and Bill Sofield
Tiffany Dubin and Pamela Gross

Richard Mishaan and Peggy Siegal

Carlton DeWoody and Douglas Hannant
Howard Blum with his sister Marcie Blum

Indres Vengris and Justin Rockefeller

Samantha Rudin
Lauren Ezersky

Debbie Bancroft and friend

Rachel Rudin and Beth DeWoody

From across the sea (via Paris Match) comes the big news that Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, Hereditary Prince of Monaco (Prince Albert to us’n) is the father of a bouncing baby boy of almost two years named Alexandre. The mother of the beautiful little one is a French/African woman named Nicole whom the prince met when she was working as a hostess on a flight he was on.
The news comes as a surprise to more than a few who have long speculated that Albert may be gay and would never be fathering an heir to the principality. The problem fueling speculation was that for a long time it was law or practically law that there had to be a Grimaldi heir or else France would step in and take the tiny little (one square mile) tax haven back. Historians and politicians have argued more recently, however, that taking back Monaco was important to France only in the old days when Germany was a threat to Europolitics.

Prince Rainier's mother, Charlotte, was the daughter of his grandfather's laundress. When it became clear that Louis would have no other heir, his father, also named Prince Albert, legitimized Charlotte in 1919. She was then married to Pierre, Comte de Polignac, an impoverished French aristocrat. Four years later, Rainier was born and the House of Grimaldi continued. Despite early doubts as to his potential, Rainier became the most successful head of the principality since Charles III who built the casino in the 19th century, as well as its most financially successful ruler/leader in its history. When Rainier came to the throne, as it were — principalities do not have thrones — the tiny country’s dwindling income was derived mainly from the casino, the Société des Bains de Mer. He revived the country by developing its real estate, and international banking business, as well as its international potential as a tax-haven.

I interviewed Prince Albert several years ago in Monaco. I met with him in his office in the palace in the Monacoville section of the principality. It was a large, comfortable room, in no way grand, but more like a library. It had been his late mother’s office and from its windows it overlooked the yacht basin and the city.

He had just celebrated his fortieth birthday, and of course speculation was rife as to what the man was going to do with himself since his father was still very vigorous and in control. Albert, who had a long running tabloidal reputation as a playboy, struck me as a very American sort of individual, almost awkward in concept, in the role of a prince.

His American-ness was not so surprising – his mother, the movie star Grace Kelly, was American – and he’d gone to university in America at Amherst. He spoke English with an American accent and with the exception of the foreign location of our interview, he seemed entirely American. Because of it, I asked him what his title was, how one should address him properly. He stated it in French – His Serene Highness. Then I asked him what his friends called him. “Al,” he answered with an ironic smile, and we both laughed.

The interview was pleasant but hardly substantive. I left with the feeling that this very nice man, without pretense or posturing, was in the difficult position of waiting for his father to die before he could assume his responsibilities of birthright. Therefore he was left with the mantle of “playboy prince” to either act out or tolerate.

I saw him a couple of times at parties in the Hamptons in the years following, although we never spoke, and I doubt if he’d even remember our meeting. There were a couple of women rumored to be “close” to engagement with him, but they turned out to be false. There was also a lingering rumor of a woman in California who’d borne a child of his. This also never took wing. Instead, discussions of his succession always led to speculation that Princess Caroline’s son would eventually take on the role that Rainier had established.

Now with the new revelations, speculation will begin anew. Alexandre, the son, looks to have the sunny and sweet disposition, indeed, even the good looks of his father. Supposedly mother and son have been living in Albert’s apartment in Paris and he is supporting them. Perhaps he will one day groom the boy to be his successor in this quickly changing world. It seems right, when you think of it.

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Louise Westergaard O’Neill passed away on Friday not long after being diagnosed with Leukemia. Louise and I knew each other through our great mutual friend, the late Lady Sarah Churchill. A friend of Sarah’s was a friend of Sarah’s no matter who they were; it was and is an uncommonly strong bond.

Louise was a very friendly woman, off-hand in style but sincere and steadfast, with a strong sense of irony and easy to laugh. Born in New York, she went to the Professional Children’s School and later attended the University of Chicago. After her first marriage to financial analyst John Westergaard, with whom she had two sons and two daughters, she married Stephen O’Neill.

Louise loved theatre. Known professionally as Louise Westergaard, she produced or co-produced a number of shows both on and off-Broadway including the Tony Award winning “Sophisticated Ladies”, the Erte version of “Stardust,” which featured the lyrics of Mitchell Parish; “Dream,” a musical which she co-produced with Jack Wrangler and which featured the lyrics of Johnny Mercer, and in 2002, “Say Goodnight Gracie,” starring Frank Gorshin playing George Burns (who always closed his television and radio shows with Gracie Allen with “say goodnight ....")

Off-Broadway she produced “American Rhapsody,” Joyce Carol Oates“Cry Me a River" and Tovah: Out of her Mind” which was presented at the Jewish Repertory Theater. Her first book, Melanie, was made into a film with Walter Reade Sterling. Early on she was artistic director of Joseph Campbell and Jean Erdman’s theater, The Open Eye. She was a lovely person and she will be missed by many.



May 11, 2005, Volume V, Number 82
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch & DPC/NYSD.com

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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com