There were fresh faces at Gracie Mansion last night.
“I’ve never been inside before,” said Chris Hughes, the owner of the New Republic, as he stood in the parlor of the 1799 Federal-style home. Since 1942, it has been the official residence of the mayor of New York City.
The annual benefit of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy offered food by Parm, Acme and other New York restaurants. A mind reader and a conjuror were among the diversions.
“We’re guests of Rob,” Hughes said, referring to benefit co-chairman Rob Speyer, co-chief executive and president of Tishman Speyer, and his wife, Anne-Cecilie, a marketing consultant.
Sharing the hosting honors were Ivanka Trump, who like Speyer works in her family’s real-estate firm, as well as designing accessories, and her husband, Jared Kushner, owner of the New York Observer and also in real estate.
Both couples were first-time chairmen of the event and younger than their predecessors.
“At the first benefit, one of the chairmen had just celebrated his 70th birthday,” said Susan Danilow, executive director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy. “Now we are bringing in the next generation.”
The son of designer Ralph Lauren, David Lauren, and his wife, Lauren Bush Lauren, mingled in the dining room. Real- estate developer Aby Rosen and psychiatrist Samantha Rosen were near the bar, which offered Big Apple cocktails in glasses rimmed with crystallized fennel.
Also spotted: Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon; George Walker IV, chairman and chief executive of Neuberger Berman Group LLC; and Pace Gallery’s Andrea and Marc Glimcher.
After touring the bedrooms upstairs, Hughes said he appreciated the house as both a history major and the owner of an old home in the Hudson Valley -- but has no designs on ever occupying it.
“I am not interested in elected office,” he said, shifting the conversation to how much he was enjoying “injecting cash and energy” into the New Republic.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- the majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News -- has chosen not to live in the house during his tenure, which ends in 2014 after 12 years.
Gracie Mansion Conservancy’s mission stays the same, to raise funds privately to support the upkeep of the house and improve it. It recently renovated the kitchen.
The conservancy’s newest ambassadors, Trump, Kushner and the Speyers, drew 230 guests and raised $600,000. They looked right at home.
“Gracie Mansion is one of the city’s treasures,” Speyer said. “Anne-Cecilie and I are thrilled to help the cause of keeping it that way.”
“It’s a great honor for us to serve as chairmen,” Trump said. “We’re all friends, and we recognize the symbolic and practical importance of the mansion in the city.”
The connection for her is more than civic. “I went to school next door,” she said, referring to Chapin, “and I was always in Carl Schurz Park. It has a lot of sentimental value to me.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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