PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston September 2022

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Chapman, curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, "with the range and quality of Ann and Gordon's collections of art and antiques for many years. Museums around the world would kill for it." T he Gettys' Pacific Heights house was built in 1906 to a classic design by architect Willis Polk, and it gracefully offers a grand foyer and processional entry hall, an interior courtyard, and gracious, hospitable rooms where the Gettys entertained. San Francisco social doyenne Denise Hale, one of Gordon and Ann's closest friends, vividly recalls this golden age when Ann entertained nonstop and Gordon presented new operas — Pavarotti one night, Domingo another. In the '80s and '90s, black tie and ball gowns continued to be de rigueur at the illustrious San Francisco Opera House. Ann Getty and Denise Hale attracted the crème de la crème, Ann with her California cool and Hale with her European upbringing, couture wardrobe, and impeccable connections. Francis Bullimore, the Gettys' illustrious English butler (inherited from J. Paul Getty, Gordon's father), greeted guests in his impeccable Saville Row morning suit, running the house with an iron hand. Etiquette was adhered to like that in the grand houses of England or France. "When someone of note came to town — a count or duchess, conductor Zubin Mehta, a famous author — their friends would call and ask Ann and me to take care of them, meaning nonstop entertaining," says Hale, who recalls a summer lunch in the Gettys' dining room in honor of Renzo Mongiardino. "Ann seated me next to Renzo, because his English was a bit hesitant and I speak Italian. Renzo loved the Gettys' collections, particularly the Canalettos and Bellottos. He said the Gettys had more Canalettos in their house than all the museums of Venice. And he loved the mirrored verre églomisé walls in the dining room." Hale and Ann again teamed up for a formal luncheon when imperious Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon came to town. "Ann called me, last minute, and said that Princess Margaret would very much like to meet some Hollywood stars," Hale recalls. Thanks to Denise's earlier marriage to Vincente Minnelli, she had priceless L.A. connections, and Rock Hudson and John Gavin, the biggest male stars at the time, arrived on the next plane. Princess Margaret was star-struck, Gordon selected wines from his cellars and wineries, and the family's French chef created menus showcasing the best California ingredients. And there was one more delight. The family's French pastry chef filled vintage glass apothecary jars with handcrafted chocolates, caramels, and exotic French and Italian bonbons. Ann Getty commissioned pretty, handcrafted boxes, which uniformed staff filled with each guest's favorites. One year, the normally sedate Italianate atrium was turned into a silvery Mylar- lined disco, with tanned go-go girls and boys and a booming sound system that rattled the Matisses and Vuillards in the adjacent drawing room. The party decor by Stanlee R. Gatti — giant orbs and archways decorated with every pink rose grown in Ecuador, truckloads of orchids from Thailand — was va- va-voom glamorous. Another memorable Christmas, a wild storm raged though San Francisco, and power was out all over Pacific Heights. Ann and Gordon smiled serenely as drenched guests dashed in from the downpour to celebrate Gordon's birthday. "We have a backup generator," said Ann as she greeted Amy Tan, Nancy Pelosi, and Gavin Newsom. Party designer Stanlee Gatti lavished rooms with romantic arches of pink roses, calla lilies, and DellaRobbia garlands of gardenias that filled the rooms with the fragrance. A nn launched her interiors firm in 1995 and Ann Getty Home collection the following year, offering reproductions of her Anglo-Dutch Queen Anne chairs, gilt Louis XV chairs, water-gilded Georgian side chairs, and a ravishing tortoiseshell bookcase. All were superbly crafted by Rossi Antiques, a master finisher in San Francisco. Ann's personal curiosity and energy and Images of interiors designed by Ann Getty vividly demonstrate her love of color, pattern, and handcrafted textiles. Clockwise from top left: Molto Bevilacqua cut velvets include the green tiger stripe on the sofa of her country house. The portrait of Nijinsky is by Jacques-Émile Blanche. Both Gordon and Ann were tall (she was of Dutch descent), and they loved grand carved and gilded Georgian chairs, which were like theatrical characters in their living rooms. Ann selected 18th-century hand-woven silks for her luscious pillows. These treasures are featured in the Christie's auctions this October. 71

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