June 30, 2011
ISLE OF ISCHIA—On a bright, windy June morning this beautiful island’s church bells rang out to welcome the most ostentatious concourse of sailing boats to have arrived at its shores since Commodore Thomas Troubridge sailed into the bay of San Angelo in 1799. Troubridge, dispatched by Lord Nelson to quell an island revolt, had brought great distinction to the family. They upheld that distinction for 200 years until in a moment of madness “Poor Tom” Troubridge was lured into marriage by the highly ambitious daughter of an Australian librarian and an Austrian POW guard, Marie-Christine Reibnitz, presently known as Princess Pushy and then some. Poor Tom’s liaison with the Australo-Austrian bitterly disappointed Ischia’s people, who consigned the Troubridge name to a cheap and watery grave. The Ischians, however, are a forgiving lot, and ever since Marie-Christine found another sucker, the Troubridge name has been revived and restored to its proper place.
Thus on that bright and windy morning last week the crowds gathered to watch the annual Pug’s Club regatta, with enough moolah in that bay to pay off the Greek national debt. The big favorite and defending champion was billionaire Bob Miller in his trans-Atlantic record-setting Mari-Cha III. The evening before the race we met onboard the magnificent 260-foot Talitha, owned by Mark Getty and acting as the committee boat, where Mark laid down the rules, the course, and the handicaps. Just as well everyone was drunk, because the long-shot underdog Tim Hoare threatened to boycott the race after balking at the defending champion’s generous handicap. That is when the president of Pug’s, Nick Scott, deftly changed the subject and brought up club business.
The business was easy to deal with but extremely unpleasant. It was about a man’s appalling behavior toward HRH Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, wife of a Pug member, at Arki Busson’s charity party the week before. Someone who shall remain nameless had the gall to put the man, art dealer Larry Gagosian, up for membership. All 17 of us blackballed him at once, which tied the record for blackballs held by Jeffrey Epstein, child molester and friend of Prince Andrew. What egregious act had Gagosian committed? While looking for his seat he had pushed the Greek princess aside and had failed to excuse himself. Princess Pavlos may look fragile, but she knows how to defend her territory. She called him a nouveau vulgarian who should learn manners to go along with his billions. Gagosian didn’t know what hit him. Back in the Big Bagel, billionaires such as Gagosian are allowed to push poorer people and women aside; in fact, it is a sine qua non of having new money.