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Two Wives' Tale

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Blazer Trail: Roome with his wife Anne early in their marriage.  

Anne and Philip met when they were teenagers. “I fell for him hook, line, and sinker; he was so charismatic,’’ recalls Anne, whose father, a high-powered attorney, occasionally advised Howard Hughes and was president of Rheingold, the beer company. Philip spent more and more time with Anne’s large family—there were seven children—and less time at his own troubled home. His mother was a manic-depressive. “Both of his parents were alcoholics, and medications were not as effective for depression as they are now, so his mother would be in bed for days at a time. My family adored him, and he became like the eighth child. When my mother had the twins, he helped bathe and diaper them.’’

Five years later, Philip and Anne invited 75 people to her parents’ home for their wedding celebration. The pair went to Paris and Morocco for their honeymoon before moving into 1105 Park Avenue and buying the place in Palm Beach that they flew down to every weekend.

Philip worked at Park Avenue Travel, which his parents had founded, but he turned it into a niche business in the high-flying eighties and was referred to by clients as “Mr. Magic’’ throughout the nineties. He catered to demanding travelers, from Lee Iacocca to socialites to Saudi princes to the wife of the shah of Iran, who would rent private jets and take over floors of hotels. There was one client who had a mariachi band flown in on a jet to play under a girlfriend’s window, and another who chartered an entire plane to bring an exotic parrot to Dakar. When a member of the powerful Washington-based Cafritz family broke her ankle in Spain, Philip flew over a team of American doctors. “Philip was the smoothest guy I had ever dealt with, and so energetic,’’ says one former client, an attorney. “He would be on the phone with me and say, ‘Hold on a minute, I have to book something for [former chairman of the Federal Reserve] Paul Volcker,’ and then he’d jump back on to deal with my request.’’

“He kept up such a positive front,” says Pulitzer. “I didn’t understand that my reality wasn’t his reality.”

If jet fuel drove Roome’s days, alcohol began to fuel his nights. His posse included Ian Kean, Lee McMakin, and Frank Shields (Brooke’s father) in Palm Beach and the artist Garner Tullis and photographer Tom Shelby in New York. He and Kean rented a place in Key West, and they would zip down there on a Learjet. Anne felt increasingly uncomfortable with his social life. While they were still a couple, they attended a luxe party at the home of Messmore and Mary Kendall in Palm Beach, and Philip dived into their pool fully dressed. After she finally locked him out in 1996 because he refused to go into rehab, Philip wound up at the Breakers with an 18-year-old girl whose mother was a baroness. His friends say they staged a mock wedding, with an actor posing as a priest.

“Frank Shields was handsome, and the most amusing man you ever want to meet, and very supportive of Philip, but he took the position that if you don’t come home on the bonnet of your car, what’s the problem?” Anne says. “By the nineties, the drinking had become insupportable for me.’’

Anne, of course, knew that Roome came from a family that had been destroyed by alcoholism. And it became increasingly clear, too, that the drinking masked a deeper problem. While it might be said that many in Palm Beach have a spending problem, Anne realized that Roome’s was an actual illness. “When my sister Courtney got married, she brought her husband down to Palm Beach to visit us,’’ recalls Anne. “Philip took him right over to Cartier and bought him a watch. I mean, Geoff was thrilled, but really . . . At Christmas he would buy all these extravagant gifts for people we hardly knew.”

Even after she locked him out, Anne stayed close to Philip. “We used to say that we’d probably be slobbering all over each other when we were in our nineties,’’ says Anne, smiling. “We spoke every day, but we never talked about dating. He would just pretend he was with the guys, and I would say I was out with my girlfriends. I could talk to him, and I wanted to believe he was okay, but I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want the pain.”

Between his marriage to Anne and his marriage to Liza, there were other women, and he seemed to support them all. There was a girlfriend to whom he wrote a check for $300,000, and a private art dealer named Marla, who lived in his Tribeca loft.

Anne whips out a thick wad of receipts and puts them on the coffee table. “I have reams of these from paintings he bought, and I’d like to know where they are,’’ she says with a sigh. “He continued to pay insurance and phone bills for these women; he just didn’t know how to terminate relationships. He kept me living like a princess; he kept up everyone’s lifestyle. Philip had 24 keys to that loft, and he gave all of them out, but no one knows who has them. Marla has just asked for $40,000. I don’t know why I should be paying her health care. She says he had talked to her about bankruptcy, but that’s ridiculous. His assets far exceed any debt. He owned half of this house. It probably should have been sold, but that’s typical of Philip. He just didn’t know how to cut back.’’


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