Limning Leo Lerman: Silver Foxes Trot Through Artist Gray Foy’s Foyer

Also on Monday, May 7: A slightly older, more dignified crowd crammed into the late Condé Nast kingpin Leo Lerman’s Edwardian apartment at the Osborne on West 57th Street. They were celebrating Knopf’s publication of Mr. Lerman’s journals under the title The Grand Surprise, at a party hosted by his companion of 40 years, artist Gray Foy.

“He was a fantastic man, wasn’t he?” said actress Patricia Neal, 81. “He was just such fun.”

Meanwhile, actor, writer and wistful comic presence Steve Martin, 61, who had arrived with New Yorker deputy head of fact-checking and Kristin Davis look-alike Anne Stringfield, 34, was in a quiet back room petting a tiny Dachshund, also named Leo. “He was extremely generous toward talent,” Mr. Martin recalled of Lerman, “and he appreciated all kind of broadly talented people. I was always amazed that he was actually friendly to me”—Mr. Martin laughed—“because I was sort of this comedian, but he was fairly friendly with Herbert Ross when I knew him”—that would be the late director and Lee Radziwill ex—“and they had a long history and relationship. He was a great contributor to the New York cultural scene.”

What magazines does Mr. Martin read these days? “The New Yorker,” he said loyally, before leaning over to inspect a tray of crostini.

Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne, 75, was reminded of Lerman’s storied (and if you ask us, slightly creepy-sounding) wake in 1994, when friends dressed his lifeless body, still in bed, and toasted him off in grand style. “He lived what he thought was on the fringe of celebrity, but he loved to collect people,” Mr. Osbourne said. “He was a great example of a kind of person we don’t have that much anymore. Our life today, we get so isolated. We have things like the Internet to keep us indoors and—”

Moving along to architect Richard Meier, 72, who was snacking in the foyer: “There’s no one I know that loved going out to what was going on in New York in the cultural world more than Leo,” Mr. Meier said. “He went every night. Leo would save his theater tickets and give them to me, which I would then use in collages. I couldn’t believe the number of stubs I have from Leo …. I don’t know of anyone like Leo.”