Last night Alec Baldwin and his pregnant wife, Hilaria Thomas -- she’s due next week -- received dozens of well-wishers in East Hampton on the back porch of the storied Grey Gardens estate owned by Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.
Dan Aykroyd hung out on the lawn, hedge-fund manager Mark Kingdon was by the pool, and members of the Bradlee/Quinn clan, the hosts, were everywhere.
Bradlee, the former executive editor of the Washington Post, declined to comment on its sale to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (“I’m not going to talk about that,” he said).
Quinn, a columnist at the paper, said the deal was a “great relief” after watching so many people leave, first with goodbye cakes, then with no cakes because the paper couldn’t afford them anymore.
The couple bought the estate -- once owned by Jackie Kennedy’s aunt and cousin, as chronicled on film and Broadway -- in 1979. The gathering was a drum roll for “Yoga: The Art of Transformation,” an exhibition opening Oct. 19 at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries in Washington.
The show surveys 2,000 years of yogic art with more than 130 pieces from around the world. Its curator, Debra Diamond, spent 18 years working on it after discovering a cache of art in a storeroom in Jodhpur, India. Wearing a white caftan she bought in New Delhi, Diamond promised “some big surprises.”
To help meet the costs of the exhibition, including shipping and printing a catalog, a gala is planned on Oct. 17, with $2,500 tickets and a limited number of $1,000 tickets.
Baldwin and Thomas, a yoga teacher in her late 20s, are the gala’s co-chairmen, along with financial adviser and singer Chandrika Tandon, and Jillian Sackler, the widow of Arthur Sackler, the gallery’s namesake. Thomas, who studied South Asian art at New York University, said she’ll bring the baby along.
“I can’t think of a better moment for yoga in Washington,” said Quinn to the crowd, singling out congressional leaders John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid as being in particular need of enlightenment.
Later, standing in the living room near a pink chintz couch, Quinn gave a more personal reason for opening up Grey Gardens: “I did it for Pari,” she said, referring to her daughter-in-law, Pari Bradlee, a yoga teacher who is on the gala committee, and who met her husband while teaching him yoga. (“Technically, she owes me three sessions,” Quinn Bradlee said.)
Baldwin said he doesn’t do enough yoga, though during the month of August he takes private lessons with Paul McCartney, Lorne Michaels and a few other “middle-aged white guys,” three times a week. “McCartney’s the only serious yogi among us.”
Thomas fiddled with her wedding ring, which to her doctor’s surprise still fits comfortably. Why no swelling? Daily yoga, she said.
“There are great circulatory benefits,” Baldwin said.
Kingdon, president and founder of Kingdon Capital Management LLC, does yoga and pilates. “It builds your core and helps your back,” Kingdon said. “I feel better now than I did 30 years ago.”
Aykroyd -- who’s playing with Jim Belushi as the Blues Brothers tonight at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York -- was one of the many guests who confessed to not doing yoga.
Baldwin, 55, standing next to Ben Bradlee, some two weeks shy of 92, offered Aykroyd, 61, and other guests another option to get healthy: “Ben and I are proof the only other thing you can do besides yoga is marry a woman much younger than you,” he said, getting the last word during formal remarks.
“The bar is open,” Sally Quinn, 72, replied.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater, Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.