January 4, 1999

It’s a good thing that James “Doc” Savage isn’t Bill Clinton’s vice-president. As Lou Matarazzo’s veep, Savage is displaying an unseemly eagerness to take over the city’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Savage was quoted as the union’s acting president in several newspapers in mid-December. A week earlier, city cops got union calendars that listed Savage as the PBA’s president, the title Savage also used on a letter he sent to union members. PBA spokesman Joseph Mancini explains that Savage is the acting president “while Matarazzo is on vacation.” Matarazzo has already announced that he’ll step down when his term expires next June, and Savage, his hand-picked successor, is facing a tough race when the union holds its first contested elections in sixteen years. “I was wondering if some South American dictator came up here and overthrew the PBA,” says Jim Higgins, the union’s recording secretary, who’s running against Savage, and whose complaint is seconded by the other challenger, Pat Lynch. But Savage explains that Matarazzo told the union on December 8 that he’d applied for early retirement and taken a leave. “When the president is not here for any reason, I’m the president,” Savage says firmly.

The makeup isn’t sticking between financier Dixon Boardman and his estranged wife, decorator Pauline Boardman. The contentious couple, who have separated several times during their 27-year marriage, will soon file for divorce, according to a New York society source. “As soon as Pauline threw him out, he came crawling right back,” says another society observer, adding that Dixon flew down to Palm Beach to win over his wife. But then, says the first source, “Pauline found out that he’d seen his girlfriend again, and she said, ‘This is it,’ and kicked him out.” The kick was metaphorical, of course, since the Boardmans’ $5.5 million Upper East Side apartment was snapped up when they put it on the market this fall, and Dixon has already moved into a one-bedroom nearby, real-estate sources say. A Palm Beach friend of Pauline’s predicts an amicable divorce, saying, “Sometimes you just have to turn the page.”

How do you get Leonardo DiCaprio to come to a party attended by a hundred other stars and almost as many reporters? Try flying him and his buddies there first-class. When organizers of the grand opening for Sol Kerzner’s $480 million Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island invited the superstar youth to attend, “he said, ‘I’m coming, and I’m bringing friends,’ ” says a hotel spokesperson. Members of DiCaprio’s infamous posse arrived two days before him; when Leo joined them, he found the place teeming with more than 2,000 guests. “They took full advantage,” says the spokesperson, “gambling, doing a lot of dancing” – and they didn’t leave Paradise until two days after the rest of the soirée-goers. Julia Roberts was lured by a different sort of temptation: the promise of a more intimate vacation with boyfriend Benjamin Bratt. The pair spent a few quiet days at Kerzner’s lower-key Ocean Club, agreeing to appear only at Saturday night’s big bash. Notably missing were Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber, who were married at the Ocean Club and are personal friends of Jerry Inzerillo, a VP of Kerzner’s Sun International. One journalist was told that Crawford couldn’t make it because of the car accident she’d been in the previous week – even though she looked fine on the Tonight Show two days after her fender-bender. “It was probably too much stress to travel across the country,” suggests the Atlantis spokesperson. Crawford’s people did not return calls for comment; perhaps she was one celeb who actually wanted privacy.

Never mind the Mafia – in this town, it’s the antiques dealers you shouldn’t cross. Some industry insiders are saying that the November 24 Christie’s auction of French & Company’s rare-furniture collection was doomed to raise little more than snickers before the hammer ever struck. “How many $4 million commodes can you buy?” asks dealer Leon Dalva of Dalva Brothers, who watched a third of the lots go unsold. One source says Christie’s guaranteed French & Company owner Martin Zimet $30 million up front for the sale, and that it was Zimet’s “really pompous” personality the dealers resisted (all of the top ten lots were purchased by private buyers). A partner at one of the city’s well-known trade houses, who didn’t bother to attend the sale, says, “I have a friend who despises Zimet who didn’t bid at the auction but went and made offers to Christie’s immediately after.” Others blame the dismal performance on the high reserves set by Christie’s. “I did hear people saying the prices were too high,” says a Christie’s spokesperson who admits being “slightly disappointed.” As for Zimet, he doesn’t know why the sale soured. “Ne plus ultra,” he says of his collection, and the dealers don’t dispute this. Besides, Christie’s $12.9 million take is nothing to sneeze at, as far as Dalva’s concerned: “It’s a better morning than I had.”

Additional reporting by Ian Spiegelman and Elana Zeide.

January 4, 1999