Investors Dine by Hot Tub Art, Dinan Holds Court in Central Park

  • Dinan recalls first painting he purchased, of a bridge in park
  • SculptureCenter guests sat around works made of hot tub parts

Early in their marriage, on a visit to an artist’s club in a Greenwich Village townhouse, hedge-fund manager Jamie Dinan and his wife spent a few hundred dollars on their first painting.

The subject was a bridge in Central Park, cast in a pink hue, and the artist’s name is forgotten, Dinan said Wednesday night as he stepped into the Central Park Conservancy’s annual autumn gala.

Jamie Dinan, CEO of York Capital Management

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Elsewhere on the same night, an Amedeo Modigliani painting of a woman in a black dress sold for $42.8 million, and SculptureCenter had benefit guests including Blackstone’s John Studzinski and Och-Ziff’s James Keith Brown dining around hot tub parts cast in plastic -- $1,500 artworks by Mika Tajima.

Hot tub parts cast in plastic, by Mika Tajima for SculptureCenter

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

James Keith Brown of Och-Ziff Real Estate Advisors and Jill Kraus

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Dinan was unsure of his painting’s value, or which closet it may be tucked in, but those yearning to see depictions of Central Park don’t need to bother him about it: A new book by Roger F. Pasquier gathers dozens of works by artists including Chagall, Homer, Hopper and Hockney.

Many show life as we will never know: Upper-crust families riding in private carriages; skaters in bonnets and top hats; children playing in a pavilion of cedar logs and branches built in the 1860s and now long gone. There is even an 1858 painting that Calvert Vaux commissioned from his wife’s artist brother, Jervis McEntee, depicting a bit of what Central Park looked like before it was Central Park: an uneven swath of green and brown grasses -- where the Lake would be placed -- with a steep, rocky area -- destined to be known as the Ramble -- behind it. The city’s skyline in the painting is mostly, well, sky.

Jeanne Donovan Fisher and John Studzinski

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

By the time the Conservancy was formed 35 years ago, the park had veered from the bucolic place its designers had intended. The Conservancy’s mission became picking up garbage and gathering resources required to restore the natural and constructed landscapes and maintain them.

This hard work is documented in another new book published by the Conservancy to distribute to donors, which offers a tour of Central Park through photographs and an introduction by John Paulson. It arrived in the offices this week, said Doug Blonsky, chief executive officer of the Conservancy.

As for the gala: While a tent at night is not the best way to experience the splendor of autumn in the park, there were glimpses of it in a giant urn filled with branches of red and gold leaves. The urn is a permanent fixture of the Mall, and the tent’s entrance was conveniently built around it.

Good for that urn, because the leaves went unmentioned when guests were asked about their favorite parts of the park. Former JPMorgan chief Bill Harrison recalled his Monday night softball games, Allen & Co.’s Stanley Shuman cited the reservoir and Thomas Kempner of Davidson Kempner Capital Management praised the views from Bethesda Terrace.

The trees on the perimeters of the terrace are deliberately small so as not to disrupt the vistas, said Gillian Miniter, pointing out the genius of Vaux, Frederick Law Olmsted and the hundreds of pruners, planters and others who have cared for the park.

Dinan for his part said his favorite part of Central Park is Bow Bridge -- the pink one in his painting.

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