Palm Beach winding down with Kravis, Mar-a-Lago lectures, and Town Council elections

The Palm Beach season is just beginning to slowly wind down and we have successfully completed a total of nineteen presentations this season.

On March 1 we returned to the Kravis Center’s Cohen Pavilion for a sold-out Duchess of Windsor presentation. Over 300 people attended, and some people even had to be turned away. Keena Gumbinner was our gracious hostess once again, and because of the program’s success, we will return for the 5th time to Kravis’ ArtSmart series next season with the Mar-a-Lago lecture. A big thank you also goes to Lee Bell.

03F390D4-A39F-48B4-99C4-DBB90B49615A René patiently waiting to start at Kravis3C7FF288-811F-404A-BBBE-728A69A13975

The following week we repeated the same presentation at the South County Civic Center for the Boca Raton chapter of the Brandeis National Committee. We truly enjoyed Sheila Gettelson’s hospitality.

B0EB2E64-DBFD-4A70-9BB5-60BAC84AB0BD At the South County Civic Center

What followed was a full day experience with the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s Collectors’ Forum. Under the leadership of Tammy Morgenstern, some 35 people came in a bus from Boca Raton for a Palm Beach experience. After they saw a house in Manalapan, we toured them through a Palm Beach mansion named Del Sueno – Portuguese for Sweet Dreams. It is an ocean front home created by architect John Volk. We then moved over to Pizza Al Fresco in Via Mizner, where the group had lunch, and René presented his Life and Work of Addison Mizner lecture. The audience received an impromptu invitation to tour Villa Mizner as the owners unexpectedly dropped by to hear the presentation! The group then finished their day with a tour through the Mizner designed mansion Villa dei Fiori, owned by Dale Coudert. We had a great time with the group and met some fascinating people.

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René at Pizza Al Fresco

Our last lecture of the season was our third appearance for this year at the Boca Raton Resort and Club (our 5th lecture there in total). Once again, we presented the Mar-a-Lago from Post to Trump lecture to a sold-out room. We are working with Barbara Chase, our always gracious hostess, to return with a brand-new lecture next season. Additionally, in attendance was Leia Moses-Levine of the Bellaggio Club House, with whom we are also in negotiations about returning there next season.

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René presenting at the Boca Raton Resort & Club

The only event left this season here in Palm Beach is our involvement with the West Palm Beach Library Foundation’s Food for Thought event. This annual charity gala will be held at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach, 411 Clematis Street, on April 14 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. It is an elegant dinner party, featuring notable authors and personalities, each of whom will lead a lively discussion at their table with 8 guests. You can still sign up. Follow this link for more information.

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Between all of this, we were very involved in the election for a new Town Council member here in Palm Beach. It was a race between two candidates for the open seat, and in the end Lew Crampton, whom we supported from the beginning, prevailed. We wish him good luck in this new position. Lew filled Richard Kleid’s seat, who retired as the Council President. Tragically, his lovely wife, Rhoda, passed away the night of Dick’s retirement party. Palm Beach has lost a marvelous lady and we will mourn and miss her for a very long time.

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Richard Kleid and PB Mayor Gail Coniglio

Happily, the remarkable Dani Moore has replaced Dick Kleid as Town Council President and another friend, Maggie Zeidman, was elected Council President Pro Tem.

B4756B31-515A-4ABC-8570-004A5D4F7CB9 Lew Crampton being sworn in

The preparation for our trip to Provincetown on Cape Cod, will soon go into full gear. Our summer will be punctuated with several trips: two lectures in the Birkshires, and one in Nantucket (something I have been working towards for 4 years!) as well as René’s monthly trips back to Palm Beach for his Landmarks Preservation Commission meetings; a position he holds very dear.

Don’t forget to write a review about the new and improved Noblesse Oblige, the Duchess of Windsor as I knew her on Amazon. Here is the link to the page. Thank you.

Have a great spring!!

Written by Robert Versteeg, partner at Silvin Books & Productions.

2018 in full swing, including MarALago and Kravis Center

Since I have not written to you this year and although it is almost a month and a half into 2018, we hope you are all happy and healthy, and enjoying the season in Florida, if you are local.

We have not been sitting still!

Our year started at Valencia Shores, one of the wonderful Valencia Country Clubs in Delray. We were welcomed by Beth Smith and an audience of about 300! With The Crown on Netflix, Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, is drawing large crowd everywhere, and this impressive audience was a testimony to that. Our friends from Thomasville, Georgis, Joe and Theresa Brown, were in town, so they were able to attend this big event. Theresa is now planning a Thomasville appearance for René in the fall.

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At Valencia Shores

What followed was our second appearance this season (our fourth in all) at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. The History of Transatlantic Ocean Liner Travel stirred up a lot of memories for our audience, many of whom had travelled extensively on the big ocean liners. This included the Palm Beach Town attorney John “Skip” Randolph and his wife, as well as René’s childhood friend Count Richard Reventlow and his charming girlfriend Rollin. Of course, our hostess was Barbara Chase, who is always a delight to be with.

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Barbara Chase at Boca Raton Resort and Club

A week later we gave a daytime presentation of the Duchess lecture at the Polo Club of Boca Raton. This this was our first time at this venue, so we did not know what to expect. The crowd grew to about 350 people, surprising even the staff of the Polo Club, including our lovely hostess Kathy Kelly. Once again, The Duchess proved to be a major draw.

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At the Polo Club of Boca Raton

Next was the 6th time we returned to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at FAU Jupiter. This time with the new Mar-a-Lago presentation. Over 170 were in attendance, including Rick Gonzalez, Mar-a-Lago’s achitect for the past 20 years! We were very honored to have him in the audience. Kimberley Bowman and Wendy Geller greeted us, as well as the great AV/IT specialist Justin Beyer, about whom we now heard is unfortunately leaving FAU. We wish him the best in his next endeavors. He is a very smart chap, so we are sure he will do very well.

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At FAU Jupiter

Next, we delivered the only Normandie lecture of this season at the South County Civic Center for the Brandeis University, Boca Raton Chapter. Sheila Gettelson was our lovely hostess, and we will be back with them next month for a Duchess presentation.

 B920B6F4-7FB7-4E2A-8B87-FA426D25133E  C1E77033-2758-4270-9DC4-779630F6D6F5
At South County Civic Center

We finished this month’s line-up at Valencia Falls. The Women’s Club had requested the Addison Mizner presentation, and about 125 women (and maybe 5 men) were in attendance. Both Susan Stein and Judy Silver welcomed us, and graciously invited us to return next season, which is in the works.

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Judy and Susan at Valencia Falls

Upcoming is another Duchess presentation, this time at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. The 300 seats have been sold out for months, but I do have a few personal tickets kept back, so if you still want to come, please let me know.

Unexpectedly we were approached by the Boca Raton Museum of Art. They were organizing a small tour for their Collectors Forum, which included only two homes at that time. In coordination with them, we were able to get the group into a home here in Palm Beach which won the coveted Ballenger Award, and we will also present the Mizner lecture to them during a luncheon at Pizza Al Fresco in Via Mizner. It promises to be a wonderful day, and we are very happy we got to meet the organizer, the fabulous and glamorous Tammy Morgenstern.

I am working hard on lining up presentations for next season, which at this time includes a return to the Dixon Education Building of the Society of the Four Arts here in Palm Beach.

Don’t forget to check out the second edition of René’s successful book Noblesse Oblige, the Duchess of Windsor as I knew her.

Written by Robert Versteeg, partner at Silvin Books LLC.