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L.A. Says Grazie to an Art Patron

Times Staff Writer

Giovanni Agnelli, the Italian business magnate and president of Fiat, has long been a supporter of the private preservation of Italian art--the Renaissance paintings and villas that often have been warped with the dew of time.

Agnelli was feted this week at a lively cocktail party by Italian Consul General Alberto Boniver and his wife, Suzy. The Bonivers’ young son, Brando, was in the arms of nurses at the front door to greet guests, a handsome assortment of Italian leaders and arts figures.

Bankers Mauro Cicchine, president of First Los Angeles Bank, and his wife, Mirella, and Giuliano Lombardi, senior vice president of Banca Commerciale Italiana’s Los Angeles foreign branch, were there. So was Count Enrico Carimati di Carimate, vice president of Harry Winston, with his friend Allene Simmons, who was swathed in Winston diamonds and sapphires.

Rome attorney Antonio and Luc Pascotto (Pascotto and Agnelli have been friends for 30 years) are staying in Malibu with their son, arts attorney Alvaro Pascotto, and his wife, Linda. They mixed with actress Joan Collins who came with handsome Felix Perruzzi from Rome, Oscar winner Giorgio Moroder, London-Paris financier Sir James Goldsmith, Iranian Prince Karim Amyriani, Count Eric Wachmeister (son of the Swedish ambassador to the United States), Selim Zilkha and Mary Hayley, Giovanni B. M. Colao, (resident executive of Aeritalia), Franklin and Judith Murphy (who had come from French Consul General Bernard Miyet’s farewell party at the consular residence), Dr. Earl A. Powell, Joseph Ventress, attorney for the Italian consulate, and Dino and Martha De Laurentiis.

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Earlier that day, Agnelli had been the attraction at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s symposium designed to acquaint business leaders with the need to preserve ancient and new art.

RES PUBLICA: The Res Publica Board of Governors and Claremont McKenna College and its president, Jack L. Stark, and Jill Stark have invitations out for a luncheon with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Thursday in the Tiffany Room of the Biltmore. The justice will speak on “Reflections on the Constitution.”

SPRING TRA-LA: It’s almost here. We can tell, not by the weather, but by the invitations: the invitation to the Daffodil Ball from the Cancer Victory League, the invite to “Green Grows the Garden” garden tour and luncheon from the Pasadena Garden Club, the inaugural garden tour for the Friends of Robinson Gardens. And there’s the Friends of Banning Park champagne brunch Thursday feting the 1989 floral designers of Floriade II, to be held later in the spring at Banning Residence Museum.

Then, the San Marino League stages its Art Walk with tea in the garden. Los Angeles Beautiful has an Arbor Day Celebration on Tuesday at Memorial Grove in Elysian Park at Grace Simons Lodge with a picnic lunch (by reservation) at 12:15 p.m. And Pasadena Beautiful Foundation with president Robert W. Cheesewright at the helm just last week held its annual dinner to reward excellence in landscaping and beauty of community. Ah, wilderness!

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To elaborate, Shirlee Chadwell chairs the black-tie Daffodil Ball sponsored by the Victory League of the American Cancer Society’s Northeast Los Angeles County Unit March 18 at the Biltmore. The daffodil, Shirlee claims, is the “flower of hope” and she wants to raise bundles of cash for the Reach to Recovery Program supporting women with breast cancer.

Alyce Williamson, chairman, and Veva McKee, president, of the Pasadena Garden Club are dreaming flowers as they prepare for a St. Patrick’s Day garden tour of four homes, an orchid show at La Casita del Arroyo in Pasadena and a luncheon by Rococo in the gardens at the home of Martha Chandler in Arcadia.

The four gardens on the home tour are to pine for: Ginie and Hank Braun’s home designed by Kurland Cutter and gardens redesigned in 1980 by Robert Shyrock; Arthur and Mary Louise Crowee’s Robert Ainsworth home with its wisteria-covered pergola the focal point; Harry and Lurabelle Laughlin’s French Regency home and garden designed by Bob Ray Offenhauser, and Martha Chandler’s Gordon Kauffman hacienda with its Engelman and California live oaks.

At La Casita, where orchid shows were popular in the 1930s after Myron Hunt built La Casita, orchids from near and far will be abundant. Doreen Hambleton, Bunny Willson, Polly Goodan, Sis Jones, Judy McLaughlin and Susan Seidel are donning their garden gloves for this affair.

Helen Bing is honorary chairman of the Robinson Gardens tour May 12, the first of its kind in the city, showcasing six extraordinary private gardens. Benefit chairmen Donna Wolff and Bridget Martens will conclude the tour with high tea by Rococo by the Italianate pool pavilion at the Robinson estate.

These are the gardens: the romantic design by James Yoch for author Judith Krantz; David Sarfaty’s tropical paradise for Joan and Fred Nicholas; the ritual path memory garden designed by Pamela Burton and Katherine Spitz for Nick and Felisa Vanoff; the serene Japanese environment by Robert Fletcher for Fred and Magda Waingrow, and Designer Nancy Goslee Power’s own garden chock-full of favorite plants and detail. It’s a $100 ticket.

The San Marino League’s Art Walk on Friday and Saturday is a buy at $18. Featured will be the English Tudor home of Michele and Roger Engemann, the American colonial of John and Dee Maechling with its inviting garden and the French decor of Victor and Eva Illig. The Marston-Van Pelt-Mayberry home overlooking the Arroyo with a contemporary art collection also is on the tour. Funds will go to the Huntington Library and its Japanese Gardens and the Art Center College of Design.

LAURELS: Michael Eisner, Walt Disney Company’s chairman and CEO, is not a USC graduate. He is a graduate of Dennison, and, as he says--"NBC is my graduate school.” But, USC thought the university and Eisner, who talks a lot about excellence and quality, had a lot in common, and Eisner, who spoke to the USC Associates at a black-tie gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire this week confirmed that.

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Alluding to USC’s tremendous success in fund-raising (the campaign goal is $557 million; $464 million has been raised with 15 months to go) and to his and Disney’s master-mapping of the entertainment world, he commented: “We cannot afford to get self-satisfied with our past successes. The best pictures are yet to be done . . . the best is yet to be.”

The highlight of the night was actress Shelley Duvall’s “Fairy Tale Associates” video, a comical financial fairy tale about Eisner leading magical Mickey Mouse (and Disney) back to success with a kiss to Cinderella. Said Duvall, “Nice kiss.” And, later: “The stockholders lived happily ever after.” Jane Eisner laughed, and so did Marion and George Scharffenberger.

At one point Eisner told an apocryphal story about USC President James H. Zumberge and UCLA Chancellor Charles Young: Out for a walk, they see a mountain lion, and Zumberge sits to put on his running shoes. “Why are you doing that,” Young asks. “You can’t outrun a mountain lion.” Replies Zumberge, “I don’t have to outrun a mountain lion. I just have to outrun you.” John Argue, dinner chairman Bill Blackburn and Zumberge chuckled.

Argue is working with Christopher Stoy, executive director of the USC Associates, to double the Associates goal of $12 million. Much of the impetus will come from the new Presidential Associates (who give $100,000 or more). Zumberge noted there are already 58 of those--in seven months--and the goal had been 40 in a year.

With two different $500,000 grants, Ron Stever, in the audience, has established the Associates challenge grant. Among those who have made the $100,000 commitments are Argue, Randy and Carolyn Stockwell, who came up from their new home at Hope Ranch, and were flying on to Hawaii, and Kris Popovich and Jane Popovich.

Because the Associates endow scholarships, dozens of students were sprinkled among guests, leading lively conversations. They saw four outstanding faculty members recognized: J. Lawford Anderson, Lawrence Singer, Lois Banner and Edward Lawler III.

ESCALATION: Harriet Chia Lin Moore brings the Yao Collection of clothes from China and Hong Kong to Los Angeles for the Craft and Folk Art Museum’s fashion show next Sunday at the home of Eddie Albert. Edith Wyle is chairman. Proceeds from the sale of garments will go to the museum in memory of Mrs. Moore’s late husband. . . .

The Wolfgang Puck Charitable Foundation Cuisine a Roulettes and Bullocks Wilshire join Wednesday evening at Bullocks for an evening of cocktails, jazz, the celebration of the new Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Boutique and the introduction of Yves Saint Laurent’s new men’s fragrance, Jazz. . . .

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Pat Lorne chairs the annual “Forget-Me-Not” luncheon fashion show for the Auxiliary of Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women on Wednesday at the Universal-Sheraton. Rosemarie McCaffrey’s fashions are on the docket.


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