END OF SUMMER: looking back and looking ahead

It looks like South Florida has avoided getting hit by Dorian. Our hearts go out to those in the Bahamas, and we will keep a close eye on the storm as it moves up the coast. Fingers crossed it’ll stay mostly off shore.

Summer is almost over. Time to look at what we did while in Cape Cod, and looking at what is ahead for us when we return to Florida.

We started the summer with a second return to the Berkshires. We presented the tragic story about theSS Normandie. Because of the audience’s enthusiastic reception, Tom Hayes, director of Ventfort Hall’s lecture series, has invited us back for next summer to present our newest lecture.

566C0DB2-0A72-4C0C-B2BF-0967241E52B9René being introduced at Ventfort Hall

Producing this new lecture is the main product of our summer: All That Glitters Is Not Gold – The Perils of Being Too Rich. In it, René tells the life stories of 6 women who were tremendously wealthy, but never found happiness. He starts off with the story of Ann Woodward, who killed her husband Bill in 1955, heir to the fortune of the Hanover National Bank and famed Belair Farm. René knew her well, as she spent much of the ensuing two decades hunting, mostly in Europe with René’s father.

EA3B9110-C523-4B75-84D6-691DB06544E8Barbara Hutton striking a pose

He transitions from Woodward to Christina Onassis, whom he knew well and whose brother, Alexander, attended school with René in Switzerland. After Christina’s brother, mother and father, Aristotle Onassis, all died within a few years, Christina was never able to find love and died at only 38 years old. The next subject of the presentation is  Barbara Hutton, the “poor little rich girl” who never found purpose in life. After 7 failed marriages and the death of her only son, Lance Reventlow, she died almost penniless. Leona Helmsley, Sunny von Bülow and Gigi Jordan are also presented.

9534C05B-0457-4F3B-A73A-095A08D8B744René being introduced by Cheryl at her and Bob’s home in North Truro

Over the summer we first presented a sneak peak of this new presentation at a fund raiser for Alzheimer’s at the home of the fabulous Cheryl and Bob Whitman-Bergen. We then did the entire presentation at our favorite venue here in Provincetown: The Residences of Seashore Point. It was René’s 7thappearance there, and he drew a packed house. A big thanks to Mark Boucher.

5D0815AE-7E10-4BF2-815E-7A1C13EEE1CARené being introduced by Mark Boucher at the Residences of Seashore Point

For more information about, and details of where to see All That Glitters Is Not Goldthis coming winter season, check out the designated page here.

Another highlight this past summer was our first visit to Harbor Springs in Michigan. René was invited to present Noblesse Oblige-The Duchess of Windsor As I Knew Her at the Harbor Springs Little Club. We were hosted by the amazingly generous Chris and Lisa Imbs. Both the club and its membership gave René a warm welcome, as well as a magnificent dinner after the presentation. We hope for a return to Harbor Springs next summer.

F483B5A9-567E-4427-9D31-B23E78F9E4C0René presenting at the Harbor Springs Little Club in Michigan

Another project that has taken up much of our time this summer is the impending release of the 2ndedition of René’s book from 2008: Walking the Rainbow. We have reworked the text, but keeping the important story intact, which chronicles the history of AIDS seen through the eyes of René, who lost two partners during the 80s and 90s. It will now be illustrated with many relevant pictures, and René has added an epilogue to bring readers up to date to what has happened to many of the important players in the story since the book was published twelve years ago. The book will be available on Amazon soon, so stay tuned on a publication date.

79383C2F-8C1E-483C-B67D-C5ADB5193D2BThe cover of the second edition of “Walking the Rainbow-all that glitters is not gold”

Silvin Books, also published two books for other authors, of which one is a children’s book by author Kevin Drury called “Bienvenido, the bird-watching cat” which will be released this October.

We currently have 13 events planned for the coming season, including a return to Ocean Reef, Florida and Thomasville, Georgia, as well as some of our favorite venues around Palm Beach County. The Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews will kick of our season on December 8, and we return to the Kravis Center in March. Check out our entire list of events here. We hope to see you at any of the venues, and here is to a healthy successful fall and winter for everyone!

Written by Robert Versteeg, Silvin Books & Productions

End of season 18/19

Wow, it has really been a long time (five months) since I wrote my last blog!  Running a political campaign and some family trips interfered, but we are back to focusing on our passion: Silvin Books and scheduling presentations at important venues.

However, there is no doubt we had a great season, which included 15 lectures. We value every venue which invites René to speak. Some of the highlight were:

The History of Mar-a-Lago at the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. An organization close to our hearts, with big support from Jeremy Johnson and Debbi Murray.

The Life and Work of Addison Mizner at the Lost Tree Club in Palm Beach Gardens. This venue invited us to speak at the beautiful clubhouse after René gave several club members an actual tour through Mar-a-Lago last winter. It is wonderful working with Laura Estes, and we met some other amazing people during the dinner which followed the lecture.


The History of Transatlantic Ocean Liner Travelat the Dixon Education Building of The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. We worked for the first time with Sofia Maduro, the Dixon’s new education director and we hope to work with her organization again.


We managed to escape the rigorous campaign schedule for a few days to travel to the Oceanreef Club in Key Largo where we spoke about Mar-a-Lago, and on to Key West for a Duchess of Windsor presentation in the Monroe County Library. We have now been invited back to 5AE45ABE-916A-4376-8AE3-9FEB8377F0D5Oceanreef for next season, and in Key West René continues to draw large crowds of fans at the library, as he wintered in Key West for 25 years before moving to Palm Beach. We also thank Leslie Lindsay for putting us up in her lovely home!

CC82B848-238F-40DC-9A67-CC44B34BE678We had several high-profile events in Palm Beach, including a Duchess presentation for the Young Professionals Organization (YPO) at the Everglades Club, where we were invited by Lisa Trulaske. That was followed by another Duchess lecture for the charity organization Food for the Poor, organized by Cheryl Whitman at The Colony Hotel. We look forward to continued relationships with both of these amazing women.


I don’t want to forget to mention the 700 people who attended the SS Normandie presentation at the Polo Club of Boca Raton. This was our second time at the lovely club and we enjoy working with Kathleen Kelly, and her entire, very professional staff.

Finally, we returned to the ArtSmart series at the Kravis Center for Performing Arts for the 6thtime. However, this time we were in the much larger Rinker Theater! We are very honored and grateful for the trust Lee Bell and Keena Gumbinner continue to place in us, which has resulted in a return invitation next year. Our brand-new lecture will be presented in Persson Hall on March 31. This fresh lecture, titled All That Glitters Is Not Gold, the perils of being too rich, will be presented at the Kravis, and the Fellowship of Christians and Jews on December 8 at the Wells Fargo Bank in Palm Beach.DB3C9994-55AE-47D5-ACC3-71A1902DA7E0

This new presentation started out as an extension of René’s book I Survived Swiss Boarding Schoolsand will include numerous glamourous pictures and newsreels about well-known celebrities whose vast fortunes lead to internationally famous dramas, including murders, suicides and excesses in what René refers to as “affluenza.”  For more information please follow this link to its own webpage.

We have lined up 9 confirmed presentations for next season, and we have several more in the pipeline. We also have some other Silvin Books projects planned for the summer, including working with other author’s books to bring them to market and create Wikipedia pages for clients. We are getting ready to migrate back to Cape Cod, where we will switch into our creative mode and work on these exciting projects.

We wish everyone a wonderful summer, and I promise I will be more regular with blog updates again.

Warm regards,

Robert, Silvin Books