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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"More than 200 Belgian police officers and authorities in two other countries on Wednesday swept up more than 30 people and recovered some of the $50 million in diamonds stolen in a carefully orchestrated robbery in Brussels in February, investigators said. The raids in France, Belgium and Switzerland took place on Tuesday and Wednesday and rounded up middlemen, intermediaries and at least one man suspected of being part of the team that held up a Brink’s armored car at the Brussels airport nearly three months ago. The vehicle was carrying 120 packets of rough and polished diamonds from Antwerp, the gem trading hub in Belgium. The heavily armed robbers, disguised as police officers, struck with lightning precision just 18 minutes before the diamonds were to be transferred to a flight bound for Zurich. They got away in minutes without firing a shot.
A Swiss investigator, who declined to be named because of the continuing inquiry, said that almost a third of the stolen diamonds were seized in Geneva, where authorities also confiscated about $110,000 and a number of luxury cars. Those arrested in Switzerland, including a Geneva lawyer, were all middlemen and intermediaries involved in efforts to cut and sell the diamonds, the investigator said. Caroline De Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Center, a trade organization that promotes the diamond business in Belgium, said the group was still waiting for more information about which diamonds were recovered." (NYTimes)
 
 
 
"Soon after moving into Liberace’s gaudy Las Vegas mansion in 1977, Scott Thorson, then a teenage hunk in the foster care system, learned that the jewel-smitten showman could love just as extravagantly as he decorated. Touring the premises before their relationship began, Liberace pointed out some decorative highlights, which included 17 pianos, a casino, a quarry’s worth of marble and a canopied bed with an ermine spread. On the ceiling was a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel with Liberace’s face painted among the cherubs. When the pair became a couple, Liberace, who was 40 years older, was just as excessive. He couldn’t bear to let Mr. Thorson out of his sight. 'We were at a hotel in Florida and Liberace had the manager give us another suite, with windows that faced the beach,' said Mr. Thorson, now 54. 'He knew I’d be near the water and he wanted to be able to look at me.' Liberace even wanted Mr. Thorson nearby when he worked. So for years, Mr. Thorson would don a chauffeur’s costume covered in rhinestones and drive 'Mr. Showmanship' on stage in a bejeweled Rolls-Royce. Mr. Thorson would put the car in park, then open the door for Liberace, who would emerge in a fur coat with a 16-foot train.  If you missed this routine, which ran for years at the Vegas Hilton, you can catch a re-enactment in an upcoming HBO movie, 'Behind the Candelabra,”' which is based on Mr. Thorson’s autobiography of the same name and stars Matt Damon as Mr. Thorson and Michael Douglas as Liberace. One person who may miss the movie’s debut, on May 26, is Scott Thorson. He currently is an inmate at the Washoe County jail here, and while the place has its share of amenities — including television — HBO isn’t one of them." (NYTimes)
 
 
 
"Life is definitely beautiful…as long as one can see, that is, which for two miserable days last week I couldn’t. Having had a glaucoma operation on my eyes two months ago, I needed to use drops for a while but didn’t pay attention—too many girls in their summer dresses, and things like that. The next thing I knew, a pain started in one eye, I ignored it and went out and smoked and drank, then woke up the next day, opened my bleary eyes, and felt nothing but extreme pain in both. I quickly shut them and the pain went away. I tried opening them again, and it got worse ... Like Dr. Johnson said, imminent death, or blindness in my case, concentrates the mind, so I lay around with my eyes closed and the brain working overtime. I tried to think of the beauty of women—past and present—but it was too frustrating. So I switched to art. Edward Hopper and Childe Hassam, to be exact. No one captured American life like Hopper, the loneliness and loveliness of the seaside and its haunting aesthetic. Hopper’s stillness is art at its finest. It engages the viewer’s psyche and imagination, the latter as necessary to appreciate the artist as the eye. While his contemporaries were switching to abstract bullshit, Hopper continues to be a true painter, churning out tranquil vacation spots, gritty city scenes, and hauntingly beautiful and poignant scenes of everyday life. Childe Hassam, who died a year before I was born, is my second-favorite artist. His Impressionist style is just right, depicting gardens, nature, and—the picture I’d give forty of the best Picassos for—5th Avenue on Easter Sunday, the very same canvas that got Brooke Astor’s son in trouble with the Feds. She had it hanging in her drawing room, but she was gaga and thought she was Agamemnon. Her son sold it for little and helped himself to some of the moolah that was coming to him anyway. Now he’s facing two years, which I find disgraceful. He’s an 85-year-old gentleman who served in World War II with distinction and a man who has never broken the law. The streets are full of vicious criminals and bombers, and the state is sending a gent to jail because his mother was a socialite and gave some of the Astor money away." (Taki)
 
 
"I went to lunch at Michael’s with Liz Peek who heads the Couture Council at FIT. Their annual luncheon that opens Fashion Week every September will honor Michael Kors this year. This was the only time I was there this week.Very busy. Bill vanden Heuvel was lunching with his daughter Katrina, publisher of The Nation; Tory Burch was lunching with Cathy Horyn of the Times; Dr. Gerald Imber was with Da Restuvem: Kramer, Greenfeld, Bergman and della Femina. Judy Price was with Linda Buckley head of public relations at Tiffany & Co. Linda was wearing a pearl necklace that you’ve seen in the Tiffany ads here on NYSD. When I told her I recognized it, she told me she was going to be wearing it to the Cannes Film Festival which begins next week. The occasion: Tiffany’s relationship to the Baz Luhrman 'The Great Gatsby' for which Tiffany created a special collection of jewelry. Peggy Siegal, who was one table over with Peter Greenberg the Travel Editor of CBS News, will no doubt be making the trip. Moving on around the room: Roger Friedman of Showbiz411 with Jill Brooke; Andrew Stein with Christine Taylor; Desiree Gruber with Peter Castro of People; Star Jones and Dr. Holly Phillips, Peter Brown with Pat Kluge; Lisa Linden with Tiffany Moller; Sanford & Stein; Jean Doumanian; David Kohl; David Landau; Alexandra Trower; Catherine Saxton with The Countess de Lesseps; Beverly Camhe; Bernard Gershon; Joannie Danielides; Jack Kliger; Diane Clehane with Dave Zinczenko and Patrick Connors and Stephen Perrine. Dave, who wrote the blockbuster “Eat This, Not That” series (7 million copies in North America) for Rodale Press, is movin’ on up to his own imprint at Random House, Zinc Ink. He will also write three health/fitness books for the imprint, among other projects. Good news for everybody." (NYSocialDiary)
 
 
 
"To: Anthony Weiner From: Acme Strategists, Inc. RE: Weiner for Mayor 2013 It was terrific meeting with you last week. We are honored that you are considering hiring us at this incredibly complicated turning point in your life, as you wrestle with a final decision about jumping into this year’s race for mayor. No doubt it’s a tough, deeply personal call for both you and Huma. But we’re pretty sure that you, like us, were up late last night cheering as the returns came in from South Carolina. If Mark Sanford can hike the Appalachian Trail all the way back to Congress, why can’t Anthony Weiner tweet his way to City Hall? We know that time is tight. On May 15, you’re required to file fund-raising documents with the city’s Campaign ­Finance Board, and the press will be combing the reports to see if you’ve begun paying consultants. And by June 10 you need to declare your candidacy in order to be eligible to receive taxpayer campaign financing. So, as you asked, we’ll be blunt in our assessment of your chances and in our advice about how Acme could assist in waging the fight. Frankly we are surprised you are interested in our help, because it’s clear you’ve been meticulously plotting a comeback pretty much since the day you quit Congress in June 2011. You obviously haven’t lost your gift for manufacturing media attention: That confessional April cover story in the Times Magazine was a masterstroke—just enough disclosure and contrition—and no doubt you’ve calculated every other chess move between now and Primary Day in September. Your intention to enter the mayor’s race as late as possible is wise, and suggests a metaphor. You’re a hockey nut, so we know you loved the heightened drama of the strike-­shortened NHL season. Most city voters with real lives aren’t paying attention to the 2013 campaign yet—and those few who are listening find the declared candidates duller than a mid-season Avalanche-Lightning game. You’ll be the Rangers, sprinting into the playoffs. Yet part of what startled us about your soliciting our input was that it plays against your reputation for keeping your own counsel. In preparing this analysis, we reached out to some of our clients who hold high-­ranking political office, including some who remained your friends through the recent unpleasantness, and whose support would be crucial to Weiner 2013. “People like to be asked, ‘What do you think?’  a senior Democrat told us. 'But my conversations with Anthony weren’t him asking for advice. It was him telling me what he intends to do. He’s changed less than you’d expect. Someone who had genuinely changed would have done his penance working for, say, Habitat for Humanity. Anthony thinks his penance is running for mayor.' You elicit strong reactions inside the firm as well. We don’t pretend to be purists; we’ve represented our share of despots, thieves, and egomaniacs. But your situation presents unique hurdles." (NYMag)
 
 
"Yesterday was the Women & Science Lecture and Luncheon at the Rockefeller University on York Avenue and 67th Street. I’ve attended one other luncheon of theirs a couple of years ago. It’s a Springtime luncheon, in a large white, airy tent on the rather cramped yet astoundingly beautiful campus overlooking the East River. Wherever there aren’t buildings or public spaces in use, there are flowers and fauna.This is a very prestigious luncheon in the New York scheme of things. Its roster of supporters are some of the most active philanthropists in New York and the world. Rockefeller University, a/k/a Rockefeller Institute, and at the time of its founding more than a century ago, Rockefeller Hospital, once upon a time ministered to patients. During the Depression of the 1930s, children of financially stressed working people, a/k/a the poor found excellent free treatment there. It is one of those great Rockefeller-founded philanthropies that makes tangible differences in the lives of individuals and the health and welfare of society. Today it is the first institution in our country that is devoted solely to biomedical research. The Women & Science luncheon is a fund-raiser, organized by large group of women and men. They contribute more than $1 million annually to support research and education at the university." (NYSocialDiary)
 
 
 
"The last time I met the Archbishop of Canterbury was on a bumpy helicopter ride over the North Sea. He was wearing a bright red jumpsuit. I can’t remember anything else about him – partly because I was concentrating on not being sick but also because, back then, he wasn’t an archbishop at all but a random oil executive. As group treasurer of Enterprise Oil, Justin Welby was taking a party of journalists to visit an oilfield. That was in 1987 and he was two years away from quitting Mammon and starting on what was going to be a dazzling career with God, that would propel him from being a humble curate in Nuneaton to spiritual leader of 77m Anglicans worldwide.The 57-year-old who now enters the crypt of St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London is in work uniform of a different sort: round his neck is a cardboard dog collar and a plain crucifix. None of the handful of diners who have swapped the glorious sunshine outside for the gloom of a church basement takes any notice of the slight, bespectacled figure as he moves across the stone floor to meet me. 'So sorry to have kept you waiting,' Welby says, glancing at his cheap watch to see that it is three minutes past one." (FT)

 

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