Own A Piece Of The Luxurious Paris Ritz

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The façade of the Ritz hotel in Paris. Image: Vincent Leroux.

When it comes to Europe’s grand-dame hotels, none are quite as iconic as the Ritz Paris. The Ritz Paris has been synonymous with refined luxury and timeless glamour for over 100 years. Opened in 1898 by Swiss entrepreneur Cesar Ritz the Ritz has served as the backdrop to several key moments in French history. The Nazis requisitioned it during World War II but had cleared out by the time Ernest Hemingway burst in with a group of Resistance fighters on August 25, 1944, gun in hand, to ‘personally liberate’ it. Realising he was too late Hemingway took to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis. In 1997, tragedy befell the hotel when Britain’s Princess Diana, who had been staying there, was killed in a car accident in a Paris tunnel while being pursued by paparazzi. The hotel made global headlines again in January, when robbers armed with guns and hatchets ransacked jewellery shops on the ground floor, making off with over four million euros ($4.9 million) in gems and watches.

The Ritz decided to sell the pieces when it reopened in June 2016 after four years of a fittingly glamorous top-to-bottom renovation. After being closed for over 4 years, the Ritz has long been a favorite of visitors to the City of Light, hosting everyone from Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in its opulent rooms and suites.

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Now, the hotel’s fans have a chance to own a piece of Ritz history – 3,500 lots consisting of 10,000 pieces of furniture and decorative objects from the property will be up for auction on the Champs Élysées this April. Organized by Artcurial – the firm that was also behind the sales of historic pieces from pre-renovation Hôtel de Crillon and the Plaza Athénée – the Ritz Paris auction will be held from April 17 through 21.

Price estimates run from 100 euros for a pair of tablecloths to 10,000 euros for a pair of nymph sculptures carrying bronze candelabras that used to decorate the lobby. Each lot in the auction’s extensive catalogue has been meticulously restored, inventoried, and catalogued by a team of 15 experts from Artcurial, who went to great lengths to ensure that every piece bearing the Ritz Paris insignia was returned to its former glory before heading to the auction block.

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A cross section of the Ritz Paris’ illustrious history, the auction includes pieces from the property’s 120 years as a hotel. When it was opened by Swiss hotelier César Ritz in 1989, the original décor was meant to entice well-heeled Americans visiting the city, combining elegant art with antiques and replicas of everything from Louis XIV– to Empire-style furniture to create a unique sense of traditional French elegance. The style of 15 Place Vendôme quickly became iconic, and hallmarks like the hotel’s plush red-velvet barstools, salon sofas from French writer Marcel Proust’s retreats at the hotel, the gilt-framed bed that starred alongside Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper in their 1957 film ‘Love In The Afternoon’, the first en-suite bathtub ever installed at the property (or in any hotel, for that matter), and ornate marble side tables are all up for loyalists to bid on.

In addition to hallmarks of the Ritz’s style, pieces from suites that some of property’s most famous inhabitants called home will be up for sale. Sure to spark bidding wars are pieces such as a pair of plush floral chesterfield armchairs, a gilded headboard, and sleek lacquered bedside tables from the Coco Chanel Suite. The legendary fashion designer called the hotel her home for more than 30 years – giving testament to both the hotel’s enduring stylishness and its famous homelike feel . . . if home is a Versailles-inspired mansion, of course.

A bedboard and lacquered bedside tables from the Coco Chanel Suite

A bedboard and lacquered bedside tables from the Coco Chanel Suite.

Believe it or not, many of the lots aren’t outrageous, either. Bids open at €150 for a pair of gilded lanterns, and €300 for a set of Louis XVI-style banquette. If the over-the-top opulence fits with your own personal aesthetic, then what better way to hold on to a piece of history? One thing’s for sure: there’ll never be another hotel quite like it.

Come into the world of the Ritz Paris.

 

 

 

 

Diana Reborn, Diana, Princess of Wales by Mario Testino for Vanity Fair July 1997

Mr. Testino is widely recognized for his images that have appeared on the pages of major magazines including  Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair, Allure and GQ among others as well as his campaigns for leading fashion and beauty brands such as such as Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Michael Kors, Chanel, Estée Lauder and Lancôme.  He has documented subjects from A-list stars, musicians, supermodels and artists to people has encountered throughout his travels.  But perhaps his most famous work is the series of images of Diana, princess of Wales that was commissioned by Vanity Fair in 1997.

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  • Magazine: Vanity Fair, July 1997
  • Title: Diana Reborn
  • Model: Diana, Princess of Wales
  • Photographer: Mario Testina

Diana, Princess of Wales, London, Vanity Fair, 1997 l

Fifteen iconographic of these images taken by Mario Testino of the late Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 formed the main  part of an exhibition that opened at Kensington Palace in 2005. The photographes Mario Testino initially shot for Vanity Fair turned out to be the last official portraits taken of the Princess before her untimely death the same year.

Diana, Princess of Wales, London, Vanity Fair, 1997 a

Diana, Princess of Wales, London, Vanity Fair, 1997 b

Photographing Diana, Princess of Wales for Vanity Fair in 1997 was one of the most memorable days of my career. I am honoured to have been asked to show some of the photographes frome that day in surroundngs as unique as Kensington Palace and design the rooms that pictures and dresses are to be exhibitted. I hope that the design will reflect my respect and admiration for her in the light celebration of her life.

Mario Testino

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Diana, Princess of Wales, London, Vanity Fair, 1997 e

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Diana, Princess of Wales, London, Vanity Fair, 1997

Diana, Princess of Wales, London, Vanity Fair, 1997 c

 

 

 

The photographers: Patrick Demarchelier

Born near Paris in 1943 to a modest family, he spent his childhood in Le Havre with his mother and four brothers. For his seventeenth birthday, his stepfather bought him his first Eastman Kodak camera. Patrick Demarchelier learned how to develop film, retouch negatives and began shooting friends and weddings.

In 1975, he left Paris for New York to follow his girlfriend. He discovered fashion photograpy by working as a freelance photographer and learning and working with photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Terry King, and Jacgue Guilbert.

Patrick DemarchelierPatrick Demarchelier

Patrick Demarchelier has lived in New York City since 1975. He is married to Mia and they have twins. Since the late 1970’s he has shot the covers for nearly every major fashion magazine including American, British and Paris Vogue. He has also shot covers for Rolling Stone, Life, Newsweek, Elle, Glamour and Mademoiselle. He has photographed many advertising campaigns, including Farrah Fawcett shampoo in 1978, the Brooke Shields doll in 1982, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Cutty Sark, and a Calvin Klein ad with Talisa Soto and did iconic ad campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Celine, Chanel, Christian Dior, Gap, Gian Franco Ferré, Gianni Versace, Elizabeth Arden, Lancôme,  L’Oréal, Yves Saint Laurent, Revlon, TAG Heuer and Louis Vuitton. He was also the primary photographer for the book On Your Own, a beauty/lifestyle guide written for young women by Brooke Shields Since 1992 he has worked with Harper’s Bazaar, becoming its premier photographer.

Patrick Demarchelier was the first non-British photographer to click the British Royal Family.  In 1989 Patrick Demarchelier became, by request, Her Royal Highness Princess Diana’s official photographer. This relationship lasted until her untimely death in 1997. Patrick Demarchelier shot four beautiful covers of Diana for the British Vogue published in 1991, 1994 and 1997.

 

A photograph by Patrick Demarchelier of Princess Diana, published in the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair.A radiant Princess Diana in a rare portrait taken by photographer Patrick Demarchelier, 1990

Janet Jackson, Miami, 1993, Patrick DemarchelierJanet Jackson by Patrick Demarchelier, 1993

Alaïa, bustier dress, couture Spring Summer 2003 © Patrick DemarchelierAlaïa, bustier dress, couture Spring Summer 2003 by Patrick Demarchelier

In 2005, he was awarded the contract for the Pirelli calendar. Demarchelier is referenced in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada, when the ‘dragon lady’, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), asks Andy (Anne Hathaway), on her very first day on the job, “Did Demarchelier confirm?”, leaving her utterly confused. The first assistant Emily calmly jumps into action and calls his office, replying, “I have Patrick!” He also appears in the documentary The September Issue which is about Anne Wintour and American Vogue.

He continues to be a force in fashion photography and has interestingly been referenced in The Devil Wears PradaSex and the City, and America’s Next Top Model.

In 2007, Christine Albanel, French Minister of Culture, honored Patrick Demarchelier as an Officer in L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Literature).

Demarchelier appeared in a cameo in the film version of Sex and the City; he can be seen taking pictures during Carrie Bradshaw’s fashion shoot for Vogue magazine. He was featured prominently in the sixth episode of Cycle 15 of America’s Next Top Model. He was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013.

Gisele Bündchen by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue Australia January 2015.jpgGisele Bündchen by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue Australia, January 2015

Gigi Hadid by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue UK January 2016Gigi Hadid by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue UK, January 2016

 

 

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III estate auction

Born Yvette Labrousse in 1906 in Sete near Marseilles, France. Begum Om Habibeh was the fourth and last wife of the late Sultan Mohamed Aga Khan III, the 48hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Mulims in direct descent from the Profhet Muhammad through his cousin  and son in law Ali and his daughter Fatima. The couple were married in Switzerland on October 9th, 1944.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Kahn Yvette Labrousse Signed to Roger Flor, 1er coiffeur Elizabeth Arden, 1959

HH. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Kahn III (Photo made and signed by Sam Levin, Signed to Roger Flor, 1er coiffeur Elizabeth Arden by HH. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Kahn III, 1959, private collection) (Click photo to enlarge).

The late Begum, following travels to Egypt, had already converted to islam before her marriage. Throughout her life she demonstrated a strong attechment to the faith and to its traditions of philantropy and concern for the less fortunate.The Begum took a particular interestin issues affecting woman and children’s welfare.

Following her husband’s death in 1957, the late Begum moved between Le Cannet, Paris, Geneva and Aswan. In Le Cannet she was held in particular esteem and was known for her generosity towards the eldery, through the establishment of a retirement home.

Before her death, the late Begum arranged that all her estate, other than certain bequests, be donated to the Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva, to the Bellerive Foundation, Geneva, and to her own Om Habibeh Foundation. Today, 15 years ago, on November 15, 2000 Sotheby’s held the auction of Her Highness’s jewels posthumously, with respect to her wishes.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Sotheby's

Cover of auction cataloque (private collection) (Click photo to enlarge)

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse neckless pearl

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III, her famous 5 row pearl-diamond neckless (Click photo to enlarge).

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III, wearing her favorite 5 row pearl-diamond neckless, and  Harry Winston 51.85 carat diamond ring (Click photo to enlarge).

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse Ring Diamond

Highly important diamond ring by Harry Winston. Claw-set with a  step-cut diamond weighting 51.85 carats, between tapered baguette diamond shoulders, mounted in platinum (Click photo to enlarge)

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse Neckless Diamond

Magnificent diamond necklace. The front is decorated with a profusion of marquise and pear shaped and brilliant and tep-cut diamonds, continuing to the back with graduated step-cut diamonds, spaced by clusters of marquise and pear shaped and brilliant cut diamonds (Click photo to enlarge).

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse Earrings Diamond

French fine pair of cultered pearl and diamond earrings. The cluster surmounts set with pear and marquise shaped and brilliant cut diamonds, each supporting a cultured pearl dropmeasuring approximately14.8mm in diameter, and are mounted in platinum and 18k gold. The pearl pendants are detachable. Her Highness the Begum was wearing them very often, in both ways, with and without its pearls. (Click photo to enlarge)

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

Another favorite pair of earrings for her where these pair of French diamond pendent earclips. The surmounts decorated with a cluster of pear and marquise shaped diamond, supporting tassels of graduated pear shaped diamonds. The clips are mounted in platinum (Click photo to enlarge).

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

 HH the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III attends the ‘My Fair Lady’ ball, hosted by Hélène Rochas in the Bois de Boulogne in 1965. HH the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III wore a gown of white lace and her favorite, also in her estate auction, her Bvlgari diamond and turquoise set. The set contains a  necklace, earclips and a bracelet that she is wearing in her hair, as the ‘first’ woman to do so, long before Princess Diana of Wales.

The results totalled to SF41,249,800 – US$23,340,809 – £16,303,619 to benefit the aforementioned philanthropic institutions in overseeing and supporting major international programs in health, education and rural development in some of the poorest regions of Central and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as initiatives for the protection of the environment, conservation of natural resources and the safeguarding of human and animal rights.

by Jean Amr

Johnny Mathis, the world’s most famous balladeer

Mathis was born in Gilmer, Texas, United States, in 1935, the fourth of seven children of Clem Mathis and his wife, Mildred Boyd, The family moved to San Francisco, California, settling on 32nd Ave. in the Richmont District, where Johnny grew up. His father had worked in vaudeville, they were both professional cooks and cooked all these extraordinary things. When his father saw his son’s talent, he bought an old upright piano for $25 and encouraged him to play. Mathis began learning songs and routines from his father. He spent most of my childhood with my father. He was a singer and played the piano and Johnny was fascinated with him, whereas his brothers and sisters weren’t that interested in music. They were busy doing other things but it was very important to him, he got involved early and extensively in singing in every capacity of my daily life. His dad taught him his first songs, took him fishing, hunting, a lot of outdoor activities, free activities; that was the main thing, it didn’t cost anything. His first song was ‘My Blue Heaven’ Mathis started singing and dancing for visitors at home, at school, and at church functions.

Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis (Click photo to enlarge).

When he was 13, voice teacher Connie Cox accepted him as her student in exchange for work around her house. Johnny studied with Cox for six years, learning vocal scales and exercises, voice production, classical, and operatic singing. He is one of the relatively few popular singers who received years of professional voice training that included opera. The first band he sang with was formed by his high school friend Merl Saunders. Mathis eulogized him at his funeral in 2008, thanking him for giving him his first chance as a singer.

Mathis was a star athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco. He was a high jumper and hurdler, and he played on the basketball team. In 1954, he enrolled at San Francisco State University on an athletic scholarship, intending to become an English teacher and a physical education teacher. The high jump record he set there was only two inches short of the Olympic record.

In San Francisco singing at a Sunday afternoon jam session with a friend’s jazz sextet at the Black Hawk Club, Mathis attracted the attention of the club’s co-founder, Helen Noga. She became Mathis’ music manager, and in September 1955, after Noga had found Mathis a job singing weekends at Ann Dee’s 440 Club, she learned that George Avakian, head of Popular Music A&R at Columbia Records, was on vacation near San Francisco. After repeated calls, Noga finally persuaded Avakian to come hear Mathis at the 440 Club. After hearing Mathis sing, Avakian sent his record company a telegram stating: Have found phenomenal 19-year-old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts.

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Johnny Mathis (Click photo to enlarge).

At San Francisco State, Mathis had become noteworthy as a high jumper, and in 1956 he was asked to try out for the U.S. Olympic Team that would travel to Melbourne, Australia, that November. Mathis had to decide whether to go to the Olympic trials or to keep his appointment in New York City to make his first recordings. On his father’s advice, Mathis opted to embark on a professional singing career. His first album was released in late 1956 instead of waiting until the first quarter of 1957.

Mathis’s first record album, Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song, was a slow-selling jazz album, but Mathis stayed in New York City to sing in nightclubs. His second album was produced by Columbia Records vice-president and record producer Mitch Miller, who helped to define the Mathis sound. Miller preferred that Mathis sing soft, romantic ballads, pairing him up with conductor and music arranger Ray Conniff, and later Ray Ellis, Glenn Osser, and Robert Mersey. In late 1956, Mathis recorded two of his most popular songs: ‘Wonderfull Wonderfull’ and ‘It’s Not For Me To Say’

Also that year, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, signed him up to sing the latter song in the movie Lizzie (1957). Shortly afterwards, Mathis made his second film appearance for 20th Century singing the song ‘A Certain Smile’ in the film of that title. He had small acting roles in both movies as a bar singer. This early visibility in two successful movies gave him mass exposure. His appearance on the popular TV program The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957 also helped increase his popularity. Critics called him ‘the velvet voice’. Mathis also appeared during this period on Abc’s The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, as did fellow African-American entertainers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey.

During the summer of 1958, Mathis left San Francisco with the Nogas, who sold their interest in the Black Hawk club that year, and moved to Beverly Hills, California, where the Nogas bought a house.

Johnny Mathis judges a San Francisco State beauty contest in 1958.

Johnny Mathis, back at San Francisco State Collegee to help pick ‘Most Beautiful Girl on Campus’.
Finalists are front (l-r) Sheila Shelly, and Diane Delgado; rear Carol Jean Childers, Mary Lou Ciranson and Judy Massie (March 1958)(Click photo to enlarge).

He was the first artist to release a ‘greatest hits’ album, Johnny’s Greatest Hits, pioneering the concept in 1958. The album spent an unprecedented 491 consecutive weeks through 1967 (nine and a half years) on the Billboard top 100 album charts, earning him a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mathis had two of his biggest hits in 1962 and 1963, with ‘Gina’ (#6) and ‘What Will My Mary Say’ (#9).

In October 1964, Mathis sued Noga to void their management arrangement, which Noga fought with a counterclaim in December 1964. Mathis purchased a mansion in Hollywood Hills, which was originally built by billionaire Howard Hughes in 1946, where he still maintains a residence.

After splitting from Noga, Mathis established Jon Mat Records, Inc., incorporated in California May 11, 1967, to produce his recordings (previously, he founded Global Records, Inc. to produce his Mercury albums), and Rojon Productions, Inc., incorporated in California September 30, 1964, to handle all of his concert, theater, showroom, and television appearances, and all promotional and charitable activities. His new manager and business partner was Ray Haughn, who, until his death in September 1984, helped guide Mathis’s career. Since that time, Mathis has taken sole responsibility for it.

JOHNNY MATHIS 1984

While Mathis continued to make music, the ascent of the Beatles and early 1970s album rock kept his adult contemporary recordings out of the pop singles charts, until he experienced a career renaissance in the late 1970s.

1970 Johnny Mathis - johnny mathis

Johnny Mathis (Click photo to enlarge).

1971 Johnny Mathis - Love Story_ USA backside

Johnny Mathis ‘Love Story’ (backside), 1971 (Click photo to enlarge).

1973 Johnny Mathis I'm Comming Home

Johnny Mathis ‘I’m Comming Home’, 1973 (Click photo to enlarge).

1974 Johnny Mathis - The Heart of a Woman - Front Cover Reconstruction

Johnny Mathis ‘The Heart of a Woman’, 1974 (Click photo to enlarge).

Mathis has released eight Christmas albums and his single ‘When A Child Is Born’ has been a hardy Christmas perennial ever since it went to No 1 in 1976.

Johnny Mathis & Diahann Carroll duet the song “You Are So Beautiful” on her show, July 1976

In 1978, Mathis recorded ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late’ with singer and good friend Deniece Williams. The lyrics and music were arranged by Nat Kipner and John McIntyre Vallins. Released as a single in 1978, it reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, number nine on the Canadian Singles Chart and number three on the UK Singles Chart. It also topped the US R&B and adult contemporary charts. ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late’ was certified gold and silver in the US and in the UK by the RIAA and the British Phonographic Industry respectively. It was his first number one hit since his 1957 chart-topping ‘Chances Are’.

1978 Johnny Mathis & Denise Williams - That's What Friends Are For

Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams with their monsterhit album ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ (Click photo to enlarge).

In 1978, his hit duet ‘The Last Time I Felt Like This’ from the film Same Time, Next Year was nominated for an Acadamy Award for Best Original Song. Mathis and Jane Olivor sang the song at the Academy Awards ceremony, in his second performance at the Oscars.

Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams released a follow-up duet, ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’, peaking at number 47 on the Hot 100. The success of the duets with Williams prompted Mathis to record duets with a variety of partners, including  Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Patti Austin, Josh Groban, Jane Oliver, Angela Bofill, Regina Belle, Stephanie Lawrence, Engelbert Humperdinck, Elaine Paige, Nana Mouskouri and his heroine Lena Horne, “She was the most gorgeous, enigmatic, provocative woman I’ve ever seen. I used to hang around at her concerts when I was a kid and after a while her husband started inviting me to her dressing room. I was probably bothersome to her but her husband was kind. He could see I was infatuated.” A compilation album also called ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late’, released by Sony Music in 1995, featured the title track among other songs by Mathis and Williams.

1979 Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis ‘The Best Days Of My Life’, 1979 (Click photo to enlarge).

Johnny Mathis Singles 1980

Johnny Mathis ‘The Best Of’, 1980 (Click photo to enlarge).

During 1980-81, Mathis recorded an album with Chic’s Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, ‘I Love My Lady’, which remains unreleased in its entirety, though three tracks appeared on a Chic box set in 2010 and a fourth, the title track, on Mathis’ Ultimate Collection in 2011 and the Chic Organization’s ‘Up All Night’ in 2013

1983 Johnny Mathis With Special Guest Natalie Cole Unforgettable A Musical Tribute To Nat King Cole

1983 Johnny Mathis With Special Guest  Natalie Cole Unforgettable A Musical Tribute To Nat King Cole (Click photo to enlarge).

1984 Johnny Mathis - A Special Part Of Me

Johnny Mathis ‘A Special Part Of Me’, 1984 (Click photo to enlarge).

1985 Johnny Mathis Right From The Heart

Johnny Mathis ‘Right From The Heart’, 1985 (Click photo to enlarge).

1986 Johnny Mathis - christmas eve with johnny mathis

Johnny Mathis ‘Christmas eve with Johnny Mathis’, 1986 (Click photo to enlarge).

1991 Johnny Mathis Better Together - The Duet Album

Johnny Mathis ‘Better Together’ The Duet Album, 1991 (Click photo to enlarge).

1998 Johnny_Mathis__Because_You_Loved_Me

Johnny Mathis ‘Because You Loved Me’, 1998 (Click photo to enlarge).

Johnny Mathis has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Grammy Hall of Fame for three separate recordings, in 1998 for ; Chances Are’ in 2002 for ‘Misty’ and in 2008 for ‘It’s Not For Me To Say’

In 2003, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded Mathis the Lifetime Archievement Award. This Special Merit Award is presented by vote of the Recording Academy’s National Trustees to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artist significance to the field of recording

Mathis returned to the British Top 30 album chart in 2007 with the Sony BMG release The Very Best of Johnny Mathis in 2008 with the CD “A Night to Remember” and again in 2011 with “The Ultimate Collection.

He doesn’t set out to just sing ballads or romantic songs. He was thrilled when his country album ‘Let It Be Me, Mathis In Nashville’ was nominated for a Grammy in 2011.

Singing isn’t work it’s part of me. I don’t do it for any reason other than that I love it. How lucky does that make me?

Johnny Mathis

On June 21, 2014 Johnny Mathis was inducted into the Great American Songbook Hall Of Fame along with Linda Rontadt, Shirley Jones and Nat King Cole (his daughter Natalie Cole accepting the award on his behalf). The awards were presented by The Center for the Performing Arts Artistic Director Michael Feinstein. Defined on their website, “Conceived as an enduring testament to the Great American Songbook, the Hall of Fame honors performers and composers responsible for creating America’s soundtrack.

He has sung for presidents (Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan) and royalty (Prince Charles, Princess Diana and HH The Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan who was vèry fond of his voice and music). His CV is undeniably illustrious. He should be cock-of-the-walk confi-dent but he does not come across that way. “As a child all I knew was that people kept asking me to sing and because I liked to please I would sing. It wasn’t until my dad told me that my singing made him happy that I began to think my voice might be good.” When was that? “When I was about 23”.

Johnny Mathis

 Nobody can deliver a romantic line quite like the silken-voiced Mathis as his record sales of more than 350 million will attest. When he sings Misty he could melt an Iceberg (Click photo to enlarge).

In an interview in The Guardian (2014) he said: “I think I am as close to some friends as I am to my brothers and sisters. And they are my family. I think it’s important to cultivate as many people as you can to see which ones you jive with. And it makes you happy. If one dies you have another one. So living is a process that you have to do by yourself, and if you can learn a few little goodies along the way that might make it easier for you, so much the better. I’ve found that the more friends I have, the luckier I am!”

I’ve had the privilege to meet Mr. Mathis a couple of times. Not only his beautiful voice impressed me, but certainly his humor, and his kindness. September 30, and over 60 years after winning his first recording contract he is still selling out concert venu, Johnny Mathis has his 80 birthday today, …

May all optimistic things will be yours!

by Jean Amr

Private Photos of Princess Diana’s Wedding Day Up For Auction

Princess Diana Wedding

Lovers of royal history will surely be excited by this  unique collection of fourteen original candid, behind-the-scenes photos from the wedding reception of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, soon to be up for live auction.

Originally the property of Patrick Lichfield, whose peerage descent allowed him unparalleled access to the Royal Family, the photos are from Diana and Charles’ reception held at Buckingham Palace on July 29, 1981, following the ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The present collection consists of seven black-and-white glossy photos, five color satin-finish photos, and the pass used by Lichfield’s assistant for access to the palace.

Princess Diana Wedding

Six of the larger photos depict Princess Diana wearing her gorgeous wedding dress with members of her family and wedding party, including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, and Prince Andrew.

Three show Princess Diana holding the five-year-old Clementine Hambro, her youngest bridesmaid; one shows her setting Clementine down; and another shows her smiling as Prince Andrew leans over to talk to Clementine. Queen Elizabeth is clearly visible walking alongside Princess Diana in four of the images, and the Queen Mother is seen in two. Prince Charles is also in two of these photographs.

The last of the photos is the most striking of all, depicting Princess Diana and Prince Charles from behind on the famous balcony overlooking the massive crowds gathered on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

Princess Diana Prince Charlles Wedding

The color photos all bear official Lichfield labels asserting copyright affixed to the reverse and show various interior scenes: two show Queen Elizabeth watching a small television broadcasting images of the massive crowd outside; one shows Princess Diana in the Throne Room as her dress designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel arrange the train in preparation for the formal photographs; one depicts Princess Michael of Kent from behind in her turquoise dress; and one shows the Royal Family gathered for the formal photographs, with Mark Philips, Prince Andrew, Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Earl Spencer, the Duke and Duchess of York, and Baroness Fellows all seen in the image.

The photos are unique in that they are from the only photographer allowed to take informal photographs of the royal family and their guests when they returned to Buckingham Palace after the wedding.

“These never-before-seen photographs capture the candid and unrehearsed moments of the fairytale wedding,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Interested in attending?

The auction is actually happening stateside, the Remarkable Rarities Live Auction event from RR Auction will be held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge, MA on September 24, 2015.

Info at http://www.rrauction.com/

by Jean Amr

Gabrielle Chanel in her suite at the Ritz hotel in Paris 1937

 

entrance-of-ritz-palace-paris

The Ritz Hotel in Paris at the Place Vendôme, is arguably a museum in itself with all the clandestine history that went on behind those doors, but it turns out the hotel has been hiding one very expensive piece of art history in particular all these years, not in a dusty attic but in Coco Chanel’s former suite no less.

As you might be aware, in the summer of 2012, the Ritz closed for the first time since César Ritz opened the hotel in 1898, to undergo a two year renovation project. All the furniture and valuables of the hotel are being stored in a secret location until the project is complete. But before the hotel’s contents were removed, a large-scale inventory was conducted before closure.

Coco Chanel at the Ritz Paris

A room with a view: Coco Chanel at her rooftop apartment at the Ritz, Paris

When the inventory team began accounting for the opulent furnishings of the famous Coco Chanel suite, where the designer called home for 37 years until her death in 1971, a painting in the drawing room caught the undivided attention of the hotel’s art advisor, Joseph Friedman.

“When I saw this painting in the suite, I had to take a step back. It had a very powerful impact,” Mr. Friedman, former curator of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s residence in Paris, told the Agence France Presse. “The use of colour and the movement are remarkable. It was clearly the work of a major 17th century French master.”

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Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris, with The Sacrifice of Polyxena hanging on the wall

The ‘mystery’ 17th century painting hanging on the drawing room wall of Coco Chanel’s suite, Friedman’s colleague found the initials CLBF and a date, 1647, but the mysterious tableau depicting the ritual slaying of Trojan princess Polyxena had no record of purchase or installation in The Ritz archives, much less any information about the work.

Olivier Lefeuvre, a Christie’s France specialist of the 17th century spotted the painting hanging in Coco Chanel’s suite a month before the hotel’s closure and instantly recognised it. “I thought it was a Le Brun straight away,” he said. “It was very well preserved. It was really quite moving.”

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Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris, with The Sacrifice of Polyxena hanging on the wall

The initials stand for Charles Le Brun Fecit, Charles Le Brun being a dominant figure in 17th-century French art, and declared by many as ‘the greatest French artist of all time’. Fecit is a latin word that previously appeared on works of art next to the artist’s name, meaning ‘he (or she) made it’. 

“The influence of Poussin is obvious,” says Friedman, referring to LeBrun’s works which were notably often inspired by the master of baroque art, Nicolas Poussin. And although experts have not found any contemporary record of the painting, the oil painting has been officially identified as an early work by Le Brun  (1619-1690), making it more than 400 years old. “No-one is in any doubt that it is a genuine Le Brun,” according to Friedman.

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Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel in her suite 302, at the Ritz hotel in Paris 1937, published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1937, this photo was chosen for the Chanel No.5 advertisement.

Dubbed by Christie’s as The Sacrifice of Polyxena, the painting has been hanging in Coco Chanel’s suite for decades, if not longer. Nobody knew it was there or even existed. Since there are embarrassingly no records for it, it’s anyone’s guess how it got there. Perhaps Mademoiselle Chanel herself could have brought it in quietly during the German occupation of Paris. Coco lived at the Ritz throughout World War II. She also had highly questionable relationships with the Nazi’s who were notorious for looting valuable art collections belonging to wealthy French (Jewish) families as well as major museums.

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The Sacrifice of Polyxena

Or it could have already been on the premises when César Ritz purchased the property– although the fact that the original 1705 building was so extensively rebuilt during its conversion into a luxury hotel would make the latter hard to believe.

But even harder to believe is that after Chanel’s death when an expert inventory team no doubt went through the three room suite with a fine-toothed comb, the 17th century masterpiece hanging right in front of them on the wall went ignored.

Shocking still, before the suite was reopened to the world’s elite at €10,000 a night, art historians and interior specialists as well as Karl Lagerfield had even been called in to recreate the world Chanel lived in and to actually research the original furniture, decorative objects, the fabrics, even the wallpaper– and still no one noticed the paining staring right at them.  Perhaps if any of the wealthy guests over the years had possessed some real artistic knowledge, they would have made an offer on the painting at reception.

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Coco Chanel Suite 302, The Ritz, Paris

No one did, and today the painting by Charles Le Brun has a pre-sale estimate of €500,000. It will go on display in New York temporarily and be auctioned by Christie’s in Paris in April, where the money raised will go to a foundation established by businessman Mohamed Al Fayed. Mr. Al Fayed is of course the owner of the Hotel Ritz, who set up the charitable foundation in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana. They dined together at the Ritz just before their fatal car crash in 1997. “Mohamed Al Fayed decided to sell it because he thinks its quality means it should be in a museum,” Friedman said. “It deserves to be part of a major collection.”