Socialite Cece Cord has been using her connections in the fashion world to make a little extra on the side. The blond-haired Texas beauty, whose 22-year marriage to designer hubby Barry Kieselstein-Cord ended in 1996, has also recently stepped down from her position as director of public relations at Barry Kieselstein-Cord International. For reasons undisclosed, she is selling a number of the famous Barry Kieselstein-Cord (“BKC” to fashion insiders) handbags at cut rates through a saleswoman of a top-ranking Manhattan department store.
In February, The Transom learned that the saleswoman had on hand four BKC bags, ranging in price from $800 apiece (for two matching woven purses with alligator skin closes) to $3,000, for a half-alligator skin, half-linen trophy bag. At the time, The Transom was also told that jewelry-presumably also from the Barry Kieselstein-Cord collection, which produces silver and gold pieces for department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman-would be on the market soon. Prospective buyers were being received at the saleswoman’s home and were limited to her “close friends.”
The saleswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not comment on either the nature of her business relationship with Ms. Cord or the merchandise she had available at press time. However, she admitted to selling the bags, which normally retail for anywhere between $895 and $12,500.
Ms. Cord, who was traveling “on business” in France, according to her assistant, could not be reached for comment. However, one of her friends was surprised to hear of the handbags (Ms. Cord apparently had a ton of them) being sold on the sly. “I would think she’d throw them in the trash can, myself,” said the friend, who speculated that the bags represented a bad memory for Ms. Cord. “She’s a lovely girl, and she’s really had a hard time. She’s not a schemer.”
Thus Spake Dana Delany
The premiere for the kids’ flick Wide Awake was over, and Harvey Weinstein was escorting out a black velvet-attired Madonna, who kept saying things like “Har-vey, I need to talk to you,” and “Har-vey, this seems complicated.” “This” meant getting past the semi-barricaded mob outside and over to the Rihga Royal hotel for a $15,000-a-head reception and dinner Mr. Weinstein threw for Al Gore.
What seemed complicated to The Transom was the inexplicable presence of Friedrich Nietzsche in the film: In one scene, the doubting boy protagonist (Joshua) bursts into his parents’ room, asks if they’ve seen God anywhere, and there’s his mom (Dana Delany) reading The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche .
Why read Nietzsche, especially in a kids’ film, The Transom wanted to know at the Bryant Park Grill after party. Actor Peter Gallagher said he knew “very little” about the German philosopher but had studied him when he was in Long Day’s Journey Into Night -“’cause [Eugene] O’Neill was so up on Nietzsche.”
Nietzsche’s philosophy, he went on, “is clearly the opposite of that film, [but] it’s what she does with that information that counted in that scene. In other words, she didn’t say “Read Fred! You’re right-God ain’t there! And it’s gonna get bad, it’s gonna get worse!”
Wide Awake co-star Rosie O’Donnell was in the nucleus of some slow-moving blob of smiling parents and autograph-seeking kids. She paused. “I’m not smart enough to answer that question,” she said. “All I know is that Nietzsche was a guy who was very depressed.”
“I didn’t study philosophy at all,” said Robin Quivers, Howard Stern’s cackling sidekick who was sporting a Japanese tattoo on her right breast. “I hear the name, I don’t know what it means. I know people say he was a great philosopher, but I don’t know what they’re talking about. I have no idea.”
Leave it to the New Yorker columnist to know what they’re talking about. “Nietzsche-ism, as far as I understand it, does not conform to the lessons of that film,” said Kurt Andersen. “Unless it’s some amusing contradiction … the director’s here!”
M. Night Shyamalan, the film’s writer and director, explained why the book ended up in the film. “That’s Dana, all Dana. She brought it to the set that day and I was like, ‘What the hell.'”
“It was on the set,” Ms. Delany said, “and I thought it would be very funny if she was reading Nietzsche.” And subversive, right? “No, funny . I like Nietzsche. I don’t know that much about him. I know the main cliché is the Überman, you know? And I do the animation for Superman [the cartoon], I do Lois Lane’s voice, so that’s my tie-in to Nietzsche.”
Hayes Can Keep the Money, For Now
In yet another chapter of what has emerged to be a particularly acrimonious legal battle, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein ruled on March 11 that Manhattan lawyer Edward Hayes would not have to pay the $1.5 million in fees the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. has demanded.
The opinion and order of Judge Stein affirmed the decision by Judge Cornelius Blackshear of Federal Bankruptcy Court a year ago, who wrote that Mr. Hayes had not received “advance pay for future services” but instead “received legal fees as approved by the Surrogate’s Court for services rendered” for his work in 1990 as the executor to the Andy Warhol estate. In other words, since Mr. Hayes had earned the lawyer’s fees, rather than being paid in advance, he was entitled to keep the $1.35 million. Had he been forced to pay it back, the amount, factoring in interest, would have been close to $1.5 million.
Having to return the money would have seemed a hardship for Mr. Hayes, who-faced with a pile of legal bills that topped $1 million, as well as the potential debt-filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1996. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, Mr. Hayes told The Transom in an interview on March 11 that he viewed Judge Stein’s opinion as a major victory in his legal tiff with the foundation. In 1996, he charged the foundation with deliberately low-balling the value of the Warhol estate in an effort to curtail his commission.
Archibald Gillies, chairman of the foundation, pointed out that while the March 11 opinion may represent a small step for Mr. Hayes’ larger cause, a decision from bankruptcy court on whether or not to move Mr. Hayes from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy-the latter offers less flexibility to the bankrupt-was still forthcoming. “Until then, there is no cause for anyone to bring this matter to a conclusion,” said Mr. Gillies. “It’s not over.”
Mr. Gillies added that he and other foundation members are still debating whether or not to appeal the decision. Michael Cook, the foundation’s lawyer in the case, declined to comment on the matter, except to agree with Mr. Gillies’ proclamation that a decision to appeal had not yet been made.
Mistress Formika, the drag queen hired to host a sassy rock ‘n’ roll show at the Life nightclub on Wednesday nights, stormed out on March 11 when somebody tried to pull off her seven-pound black wig. According to the famous cross-dresser, she was walking near the club’s main dance floor when she felt a sharp tug on the back of her head. In her Toilet Boys T-shirt and Kiss panties, Mistress Formika spun around and shoved Frank Barbosa-who, working at the club as a barback, was standing behind her-and accused him and Juan Torres, a busboy also standing nearby, of committing what she felt was a blatant homophobic act.
“If I hadn’t been such a professional and had my wig completely pinned down so that even a world war wouldn’t have taken it off, it would have been on the floor,” she said. “But it wasn’t necessarily the pain or the hurt or the blood or the gore that upset me. It was the principle of the matter.”
Steve Lewis, the club’s director, listened to Mistress Formika’s complaint, but said he didn’t think there was much he could do. The young employees vehemently denied the accusations, and since nobody actually saw either one pull her hair, Mr. Lewis gave them the benefit of the doubt. “There were 600 people in the building,” said Mr. Lewis. “It could have been someone in the crowd.” Mistress Formika, insisting that there was nobody else in the immediate vicinity at the time and feeling like she was being called a liar, grabbed her coat and her bag and fled the club in a huff, vowing never to return.
After the imbroglio, Mr. Lewis told The Observer that it was highly unlikely that any employee of the gay-friendly West Village hot spot would commit such a senseless act at risk of losing his job. “We have three nights a week that are gay, and we handle all sorts of artsy-fartsy-type things here,” he said. “For one of the staff to do this just doesn’t make any sense, and I’m not gonna fire them based on a wild accusation.”
Mr. Lewis admitted he should have anticipated something like this happening when he hired Mistress Formika. “I pay her to be a prima donna,” he said. “That was her basic job description.”
Although Mistress Formika was extremely offended by the assault, she doesn’t necessarily blame the club or Mr. Lewis. “I blame the Mayor of New York for making everyone in the city walk on eggshells when it comes to sexuality,” she said. “The nightclubs are watched like hawks. There are not many places left in the city to get wild and crazy and X-rated, and that makes it really difficult for everyone.”
Meanwhile, until either Mr. Lewis or Mistress Formika apologizes, no more Kiss-panty-wearing hostess at Life on Wednesday nights.
An Offer Ileana Couldn’t Refuse
Octogenarian art dealer Ileana Sonnabend, whose touted private collection was thought to be locked up for lending only, recently sold two Jasper Johns paintings to art buffs David Geffen and S.I. Newhouse Jr. Knowledgeable sources placed the price of the works at more than $10 million apiece.
Neither Mr. Geffen nor Mr. Newhouse returned The Transom’s calls, and Antonio Homem, director of the Michael & Ileana Sonnabend Gallery and the son of the Sonnabends, would not comment on the specifics of the sale. However, he admitted that, in general, his mother has been loath to sell from the private collection. “She always said that the things in her collection count a lot for her, and she doesn’t intend to sell them, that is entirely true,” he told The Transom. “But,” he added, “that’s not a vow not to sell.”
Mr. Geffen, one of the troika that runs Hollywood’s Dreamworks SKG, and Mr. Newhouse, the Condé Nast publishing magnate, have been friends and fellow collectors since at least 1988, when Mr. Newhouse set a record for the highest sum ever paid for a work by a living artist. That acquisition-also a Johns painting, titled False Start -set Mr. Newhouse back $17 million.
Sources told The Transom that Ms. Sonnabend had vowed never to part with the Johns works. Her relationship with Mr. Johns goes back to 1958, when the artist made his New York debut at the gallery Ms. Sonnabend owned with her then-husband, Leo Castelli. His works, along with those of Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg, are among the highlights of Ms. Sonnabend’s personal collection.
Still, as fellow gallery owner and art dealer Holly Solomon put it, “Sometimes one gets an offer one cannot refuse.”
The sale, though certainly stratospheric, was probably no great financial sacrifice for Messrs. Geffen and Newhouse, who are worth $1.9 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively. And according to Ms. Solomon, Ms. Sonnabend certainly knows what she’s doing in selling the paintings to two of the highest-profile collectors in the country. “She is a very disciplined woman,” said Ms. Solomon. “Believe me, this is a very bright woman.”
Frank DiGiacomo is on vacation.