Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Countess of Chic; Rich City - A Famous Society Hostess Led a Wild and Lavish Life Surrounded by Great Riches. This Month, They Come to Auction. Katrina Burroughs Reports

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Countess of Chic; Rich City - A Famous Society Hostess Led a Wild and Lavish Life Surrounded by Great Riches. This Month, They Come to Auction. Katrina Burroughs Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: KATRINA BURROUGHS

BOTH her furniture and her lifestyle were pure rococo.

Countess Moira Rossi di Montelera died in May last year, aged 94, a grand old lady who had surrounded herself with opulent 18th century ormolu and silk brocade, tortoiseshell and ebony, painted, carved and gilded furnishings and friends the breadth of American and European society.

Moira Mary Forbes was born in 1910, daughter of the 8th Earl of Granath and Countess Beatrice (whose father was American financier Ogden Mills).

That combination of Irish aristocracy and American Gilded Age glamour found expression in Countess Rossi's two passions: horse racing and jewellery. It was her brief second marriage was to Theo Rossi, of Martini Rossi fame, gained her the exotic title that fit her like one of her trademark elbowlength kid gloves.

Countess Rossi's childhood was split between a handful of grand houses: Forbes Castle in Ireland; the Mills family home on the Hudson River, which is now a museum; Forbes House in Halkin Street, London, and the Maison Granard in rue de Varennes, Paris.

Later, she moved to Italy and filled a fabulous Palazzo in Turin with extravagant continental antiques.

Most recently, the countess divided her time between her apartment in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva, and, in summer, a suite of rooms in her favourite hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure, on the Italian Riviera.

There, until five years ago, she was often to be seen taking to the water in her 1964 Riva powerboat.

Brett Sherlock, who was one of her many friends, is a director of Christie's, which will be auctioning the countess's furnishings in London and her jewels in Geneva. He describes glorious gatherings at her Lausanne flat, where she would sit on her orange silk brocade sofa, propped up with mink cushions, her hair violet or blue, depending on mood, and hold court. …

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