Scene Last Night: Steve Schwarzman, Byrdie Bell, Roitfeld Trio

Richard Hambleton Opening
Christine Schwarzman and Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO, Blackstone Group. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Blackstone Group Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Schwarzman stood out in the crowd of models and artists at Phillips de Pury & Co. Friday night to celebrate the opening of a Richard Hambleton retrospective.

Wearing a pink-and-white striped button-down shirt and beige pants, Schwarzman walked past three models: silver-suited Karolina Kurkova, Byrdie Bell (also an actress) in fedora and skinny jeans, and top head-turner Theodora Richards, who had been poured into a black catsuit with head-to-toe slits.

(Click here for a slide show of photos from the party.)

“We’re looking for our friend,” Schwarzman said in the second-floor galleries, filled with Hambleton’s energetic canvases. He scanned the crowd, which totaled about 2,000, while his wife, in a cream-colored dress and jacket, checked her BlackBerry.

The friend was Gherardo Guarducci, a partner in the restaurant Sant Ambroeus, whose Madison Avenue location isn’t far from the Schwarzmans’ Park Avenue residence.

The couple, recently returned from several months in France, picked a hectic night to dip back into New York’s social scene. Pre-9/11 security measures had snarled traffic.

“It’s a zoo,” Schwartzman said.

Former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld also noted the charged atmosphere. “It’s very strange with all the police around and these checkpoints. It makes me sad.”

‘A Great Spirit’

The exhibition, up through Tuesday, shines a long-overdue spotlight on Hambleton, a downtown artist who has continued to work well after the deaths of peers Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

“He’s a great spirit in the art world who struggled, and now he’s victorious,” said Peter Boris of Pace Gallery. “He kept on painting.”

No one knew if Hambleton would show. Then he ended the suspense as he arrived wearing an expression of delight and a green suit.

The party brought out a triumvirate of Roitfelds: Carine and her two children, Julia and Vladimir.

Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld organized the exhibition with Andy Valmorbida (whose mother, Maria Valmorbida, was also in attendance. Roitfeld and Valmorbida have mounted exhibitions of Hambleton’s work in London, Moscow, Milan and Cannes. New York’s is the final installment.

Mother Knows Best

Carine Roitfeld’s advice has proved useful.

“She said, ‘Nothing is going to come to you easy’” explained her son. “When you fight, that is how things happen.”

He then offered an example.

“For the past few months, we’ve been going to Richard Hambleton’s studio, asking for new work, and he has had nothing to give us,” he said. “Then last night we went to the studio and he gave us five or six works. Now it’s truly a retrospective.”

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