the party of the century

Don Carlos de Beistegui y de Yturbe (1895 – 17 January 1970), was an eccentric multi-millionaire art collector and interior decorator and one of the most flamboyant characters of mid-20th century European life. His ball at the Palazzo Labia in Venice in 1951, an event so extravagant it was criticised by the Vatican, is still described as “the party of the century”. He was often referred to as “The Count of Monte Cristo”

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In the early 1930s, he had a penthouse built on the Champs-Élysées, designed by Le Corbusier. It included an electronically operated hedge that parted to reveal a view of the Arc de Triomphe, and a roof terrace designed by Salvador Dalí.

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In 1948, Beistegui acquired the Palazzo Labia, just off the Grand Canal in Venice, and began an intensive restoration. He purchased frescoes by Raphael, Annibale Carracci, and Guido Reni. These works of art, coupled with tapestries and antiques, restored the palazzo to its former splendour. So avid a collector was Don Carlos that his taste became known as “le goût Beistegui” (the Beistegui style). It was said that, in order to avoid the clatter of dishwashing at parties, he frequently ordered his soiled gold tableware thrown into the canal at the end of each course. (The ugly gossip was that he had laid a stout fish net on the canal bottom beforehand.)

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On 3 September 1951 Beistegui held a masked costume ball. It was one of the largest and most lavish social events of the 20th century. The invitations went out six months beforehand. The guest list included the Aga Khan III, Barbara Hutton, Gene Tierney, Orson Welles, Gala Dalí and many others. 

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Christian Dior and Salvador Dalí designed each other’s costumes. Winston Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were invited but did not attend. Many who would have liked to have been invited were not. The host wore scarlet robes and a long curling wig, and his normal height (5 ft. 6 in.) was raised a full 16 inches by platform soles. Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the ball display an almost surreal society, reminiscent of the Venetian life immediately before the fall of the republic at the end of the 18th century. The “party of the century” launched the career of Pierre Cardin, who designed about 30 of the costumes. Nina Ricci was another designer who was involved.

Pierre Cardin shoes found here

Champagne, lobsters, ballets, minuets, rumbas, sambas, Charlestons and a troupe of acrobats diverted the guests in the palace until dawn. In the courtyard, lordly Don Carlos had provided a special party for the common folk, including soft drinks, which they paid for, a free Punch & Judy show, and a contest to see who could climb to the top of a greased pole.

 

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Despite this colossal extravagance and the enormously high-profile guest list he was able to attract, Beistegui did not generally warm to people, nor they to him. He remained personally aloof and shadowy, and was often accused of treating his friends and mistresses very poorly. He never married, and although he was said to have had many mistresses, his sexuality was the subject of speculation. A certain duchess was said to have been his illegitimate daughter….

not this duchess

a little dovie told me

When Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were ousted from power in 1986 the newspapers had a field day reporting on her 3000 pairs of shoes  and vast collection of lingerie including a bullet proof bra.

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The power couple stayed together until his death in 1989 but playboy Ferdinand had been anything but faithful in the preceding years.  Deciding his image needed a facelift, Marcos authorised a movie about his mythical fantasies and imagined wartime gallantry with American actor Paul Burke playing the part of Ferdinand and busty blonde bombshell Dovie Beams playing his then-girlfriend.

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Over the two years that it took for the film to be completed, Marcos conducted a passionate affair with Dovie who recorded the details on tape every night. At the end of filming they exchanged snippets of pubic hair, assured each other of mutual love and parted.

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Seven months later, when a final payment for the movie was not delivered and after receiving no word from Marcos, Dovie called a press conference and produced the tape recorder. Journalists were amazed to hear the voice of their president singing off key love songs and desperately begging for oral sex. For her own protection Dovie was whisked away on a flight to Hong Kong. On board she discovered how long the reach of her former lover was when the seat next to her was taken by Delfin Fred Cueto, Marcos’ personal hitman and half brother. The Philippines consul-general also got in on the act and tried to block her departure but she was eventually placed in the custody of MI5 and escorted safely home.

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Dovie was not the only blonde to fall under Ferdinand’s spell.

Evelin Hegyesi, who modelled mink bikinis in the 1970s and once graced the pages of Playboy magazine, is now a 57-year-old eastern suburbs multimillionaire with a waterfront Point Piper mansion and several investment companies.

She also has a Eurasian daughter, Analisa, who lives with Dean Fleming, son of the wealthy racing and fruit markets family worth $270 million. She called the baby Analisa Josefa. Josefa is the name of Marcos’s mother.

It is not clear how she came to be connected with Marcos in 1970. But something happened that prompted the president to assign one of his secret Swiss bank accounts to Evelin’s company.

While her mother eschewed parties, daughter Analisa is described by social writers as “exotic”, “vivacious” and “flamboyant”, with a super-curvy body.

Rumours that she has an interest in recordings have so far proved unfounded.

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 8:30 am  Comments (46)  
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