David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

October 17, 2006

New York days and nights

Last night. Started out at Sotheby's where they were holding a preview reception for the Ingrao Collection that will be going up for sale on October 20. Tony Ingrao and his partner Randy Kemper are a very successful interior design team here in New York. The collection has occupied three floors of their Ingrao Gallery showroom/townhouse on 17 East 64th Street. Ingrao showcases 18th to 20th century antiques alongside cutting-edge contemporary artwork all within a stunning minimalist setting. Much of that is up for the gavel on Friday.

In a way, these are the best cocktail parties in New York – the Sotheby's galleries are filled with beautiful things to look at, to consider, contemplate, talk about, and the faces familiar, sometimes vaguely familiar, sometimes new, pass through. If you go to enough of them, as I have, the nervousness about talking to people at a cocktail party is largely dispelled.

I ran into Vicki Ward , the journalist for Vanity Fair who has just completed a story on Brooke Astor that will, I have no doubt, raise more than a few eyebrows and maybe even drop some jaws here and there. As is our wont, or the nature of history (take your pick), powerful public images are bound to be deconstructed. When I wrote about Mrs. Astor and her husband and his family on these pages a few weeks back, I pointed out that her great achievement (in giving away her husband's millions) was not so much her goodness as her “setting a good example.” The interesting thing about “setting a good example” is that it can be accomplished by any one willing to lend him or herself to the notion. Vicki Ward has, from what I can gather, taken a trenchant look at things behind that “good example.”

Meanwhile back at the party: I got involved in taking pictures, now a kind of obsession these nights of round-making. It is harder to take pictures of new people. For me at least. Some photographers just push in, disinterested in the subject, intensely interested in getting the shot, any shot. I tend to avoid them, shy (actually) about intruding (believe it or not) and inquiring their names. It is a constant exercise because of course the obsession is to get the picture.

Eric Berger and Alison Minton