Magazine article The Spectator

Taking Sides

Magazine article The Spectator

Taking Sides

Article excerpt

High life

New York

X-ray Bagelites who lunch are in a tizzy over Pauline Pitt's fax to a New York Post gossip columnist accusing Al Taubman of being 'a pig who never does the right thing unless it looks better in high society'. Before I go on, a brief resume of the notso-swells involved. Al Taubman is the shopping-mall tycoon and former head of Sotheby's who is about to do three Takis (a Taki is four months) and a day for pricefixing.

Although I wrote two articles in favour of Big Al, I thought his defence was disgraceful and in a way cowardly. He pretended to be dumb and not in the know, but as a juror said afterwards, `This guy has been smart all his life, how come he went stupid all of a sudden?' Perhaps it's easy to say, but had it been me I would have stood up in court and attacked the law I broke and take all the blame on my shoulders. Big Al did not do that. Instead he blamed his underlings and got his come-uppance. Dede Brooks, who gave evidence against him, has to pay an enormous (for her financial means) fine, and spend close to a year under house arrest. I called Dede a rat before, but I was wrong. She's a Wasp, and Wasps do not believe in breaking the law. She also has beautiful legs and a ruined career, and America has no soft prisons for women, only men.

Pauline Pitt was born Pauline Baker, of the banking family, and has lived an impeccable life as a socialite, wife and mother. She married way beneath her when she became Mrs Dixon Boardman, but she and her family helped her husband make all the right connections in no time. My beef with Boardman is not his womanising - it's probably the only good thing about him but the way he treated a wife to whom he owed everything. To be a cad one has to be a gentleman first, and in my book Boardman gave us cads and womanisers a bad name.

After Pauline divorced Boardman - he got the Baker family house in the settlement - she married William Pitt, who unfortunately died within a year of the wedding. Pitt, who owned a large real-estate company, was very clubbable, as they say in Greenwich and Palm Beach, and, having gone into the real-estate business with Big Al, proceeded to bring the rather rough Taubman into his far more refined circle.

Suddenly one day Pitt was informed that close to 100 of his top executives were leaving the William Pitt realty, and going to Sotheby's real estate. When he confronted Taubman, Big Al feigned ignorance. …

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