On The Avenue

Another Way of Speaking of Iran

by AVENUE insider Photographed by Ralph Gabriner, Rebecca Smeyne and Jessica Norman
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
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The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy presented its inaugural Samuel Untermyer Award to Christiane Amanpour on Sunday, September 16, during its annual celebration of Mehregan, the ancient Persian harvest festival.


The event took place at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, which is home to the finest Persian garden in the Western Hemisphere.  According to Rogues’ Gallery, a history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art penned by AVENUE editor Michael Gross, the gardens take their name from an estate owned by Samuel Untermyer, the lawyer who ran the money trust investigations that drove J.P. Morgan to his grave. Originally known as Greystone, it was built by the failed presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. Boasting 29 rooms and staffed by a dozen servants, it sat on 171 acres, and its walls were hung with paintings by Whistler, Gainsborough, Money and Corot.  A mosaic in the entry hall was inscribed with Untermyer’s initials.  His family gave it to the City of Yonkers as a gift after his death. 


Earlier this month, traditional Persian music filled the air as late-afternoon cocktails in the garden culminated in a performance by the Vancouver Pars National Ballet in the outdoor amphitheater beneath the twin sphinxes sculpted by Paul Manship. Guests enjoyed lavish Persian cuisine in an open tent with spectacular views of sunset on the Hudson River.


Vartan Gregorian presented the award to Amanpour; both are Iranian-born. Violin prodigy Oliver Hakim dazzled the crowd of 230 with his performance in the Temple of the Sky against the night sky as guests threw esphand seeds into the ceremonial fire pits to ward off the evil eye. The joyous event raised funds to support the Conservancy’s efforts to restore Untermyer Gardens and its once grand ruined Persian Pool. The Gala co-chairs were Nazee Moinian and Victoria Sakhai.


Guests included Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chris Kerston, Hamid Biglari, Laya Hadjavi, Cyrus Amir-Mokri, Mariam Azarm, Janet Montag, Masih Alinejad, Yassmine and Kayvan HakimEva Haller, Daniel Schwarz, Yoel Haller, Kamran Hakim, Parviz Shakiban, Marlene Verveer, Steve Byrns, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Firooz Zahedi, Yasmin Vossoughian, Whit Clifford, Marc Karimzadeh, Whitney Robinson and Matthew and Joe Moinian.  


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