“I have to say, it’s very posh,” Victoria Beckham said in a second-floor dining room at the Frick Collection, where windows overlooking Central Park were punctuated by gilt-framed oil paintings.
The dinner party of 30, which included art-world professionals, junior varsity billionaires and foreign royals, held its breath. Had the artist formerly known as Posh Spice, routinely caricatured by British tabloids as a humorless mannequin, just made a self-aware joke?
“It’s a very posh dinner that we’re having here tonight,” Ms. Beckham repeated, giving the room permission to laugh.
Ms. Beckham paid a whistle-stop visit to New York City last Thursday to promote her fashion line, a collaboration with Reebok and a Sotheby’s auction of old masters by female artists. Marketed as “The Female Triumphant,” the auction contains 21 works painted by 14 women between the 16th and 19th centuries, with pre-sale estimates of up to $6 million.
A pop star turned fashion designer may seem like an unlikely figurehead for a sale of old masters. But as in Titian’s 1545 masterpiece “The Descent of the Holy Ghost,” Ms. Beckham’s luminous celebrity cast its glow both at Sotheby’s galleries during a V.I.P. preview and the intimate dinner that followed.
“Myself and David, we don’t claim to know an enormous amount about art,” Ms. Beckham said, referring, of course, to David Beckham, her footballer husband. “But when I first came to the Frick a few years ago, I fell in love with the old masters. And then I got introduced to the team at Sotheby’s, so I’ve been learning more.”
Dining on potatoes dauphinois and tough pucks of beef were Xavier Salomon, the Frick’s chief curator; Aimee Ng, an associate curator; Mario Sorrenti, the fashion photographer; Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece; and Larry and Toby Milstein, the young philanthropists and séance enthusiasts.
Casey Kohlberg, a young producer of short films, said she had been a fan of Ms. Beckham’s since her pop music days, and owned several items from her fashion line. She bonded with a table mate, Melissa Jacobs, about role-playing the Spice Girls with their friends in middle school.
And which one of the group had they portrayed?
The two young women declined to answer, but each stole a look at the woman sitting at the head of the table.
Jazz for Cancer Research
There was a moment, at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday night, when music made the world’s problems go away.
Around 500 well-heeled New Yorkers paid up to $10,000 each to attend the Nearness of You concert in honor of the saxophonist Michael Brecker, who died in 2007. The overclass guests included Len Blavatnik, a bare-knuckled mogul valued by Forbes at $16.5 billion; Leon Black, a private equity pooh-bah; Jo Carole Lauder, wife of Ronald Lauder; and Charles Rockefeller. They raised more than $1.3 million for cancer research at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Bernie Williams, an accomplished jazz musician and a 16-year veteran of the New York Yankees, opened the show with a sublime arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
For the three minutes Mr. Williams played, the big-screen view of Midtown Manhattan through the floor-to-ceiling windows acquired the magic of a Woody Allen movie (before #MeToo).
Traffic on Central Park South became intertwined rivers of diamonds and rubies, flowing in opposite directions. The statue of Christopher Columbus straightened its back. Even an ugly construction elevator, lifting and dropping against the growing bones of a new ivory tower on West 57th Street, borrowed the lilting grace of a conductor’s wrist.
When it was over, and the room was mute with awe, the host Padma Lakshmi said: “That was the most beautiful version of the song I ever heard.”
Then Hugh Jackman took the stage in a tight sweater, and the audience snapped back to attention.
Other performers included James Taylor, Patti Austin and Harolyn Blackwell. None of the stars, or the more prominent guests, attended the after-party, making it slim pickings for a social columnist.
The music was pretty, though.
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