The Emperor’s New Show

Schlepping all the way to Salem was well worth it when the Peabody Essex Museum unveiled its exhibit, The Emperor’s Private Paradise, Treasures From the Forbidden City, showcasing the contents of Emperor Qianlong’s private retreat.

On hand to mark this auspicious occasion were assorted high-level Chinese diplomats (who thankfully kept their remarks briefer than most high-level diplomats do), along with local panjandrums like mistress of the Mandarin Oriental Susanne Hatje, culture vulture Jared Bowen, Skinner Auctioneer’s Karen Keane and her other half, Dan Elias, MFA head honcho Malcolm Rogers and others of an equally sparkly ilk.

Needless to say, the objects on display were magnificent and everyone oohed and aahed appreciatively, one guest making the interesting and valid observation that more people saw the loot that night than had in the past 100 years.

The evening’s most amusing remark: the woman who said, “That was just like eating Chinese food. In an hour, I’m going to want to see it again.”

A Rose By Any Other Name

Behind every great woman are a bunch of other great women, and you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting one at the Anti-Defamation League’s luncheon at the Mandarin Oriental to honor Carol Fulp as 2010’s Woman of Valor.

In addition to Fulp (a high-profile exec who was tapped by President Obama to represent the U.S. at the 65th United Nations General Assembly), there was ADL board chair Esta Epstein, previous recipient Linda Whitlock, the right reverend Liz Walker, Red Sox first lady Stacey Lucchino, the irrepressible Mary Kakas, adventurer and free spirit Linda Schwabe, force-to-be-reckoned- with Jacqui Budd, politico Andrea Cabral, Chestnut Hillbilly Kathy Taylor, philanthropist Carol Goldberg and just about every woman (and plenty of men) with juice in this town.

Meanwhile, one of the speakers tried out Fulp’s new honorific, calling her “Madame Ambassador” and “Excellency,” to which another piped in, “Just don’t call her late for dinner.”

Better Homes and Hangout

How many movers and shakers can you fit into a $12.5 million, 12,000-square-foot mansion in Chestnut Hill? Well, it was hard to count.

For starters, One Starry Night—a benefit for the Greater Boston Food Bank—was spread throughout the palatial house built by Mark Andrus and Marty Dykas. There was someone rolling cigars and a whiskey bar in the basement, a raw bar and a jazz combo in the garden, a tarot-card reader and jewelry designer in two of the second-floor bedrooms, and a Newbury Street art gallery exhibiting its wares on the third floor. Then there was the distraction of food by the likes of Michael Schlow, Evan Deluty, Tim Fonseca, Mario Capone and Andy Husbands.

Nevertheless, the eclectic crowd included such powerhouses as Brookline doyenne Diane Gordon and her other half, Lloyd, the stunning Alicia Winn and her hubby, Arthur, car czars Ernie Boch Jr. and Don Rodman, style avatar Omid Maxey, latter-day Warhol girl Brelyn Spindel, financial whiz-kids Paul and Wesley Karger, fashion plate Lisa Pierpont, iconoclastic thoroughbred Sukey Forbes Bigham, a guest who took one look around and said, “Nice little starter house,” and another who got lost trying to get from the basement back to the first floor.

The evening’s most priceless exchange: One person teased Boch, saying, “Why don’t you just buy this place?” to which another added, “Yeah, Ernie. You’re trying to downsize, aren’t you?”

In Memoriam

In the history of the Four Seasons, the valets have never parked as many cars as they did for the hordes who came to pay their respects to the family of Joan Cutler, the Boston philanthropist and socialite who died in September at her home on Cape Cod.

A clear indication of how deeply she’ll be missed, that statistic pales in comparison to the amounts of money she gave away with her husband, Ted, to such causes as the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Emerson College, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston Ballet, Silent Spring Institute and countless others, not to mention such civic-minded gestures as funding the lighting of the trees along the Comm. Ave. Mall (a charmingly extravagant gift to the citizens of Boston, and one for which the Cutlers received inexplicable criticism).

But far from being a checkbook Patron Lady Bountiful, Joan Cutler gave her time and energy, leveraging her connections and her fearlessness in asking other people to donate to worthy causes. And unlike many women who attend galas and benefits to see their names in print or climb some invisible social ladder, she genuinely enjoyed herself and was as friendly with the person who sold her the ball gown as she was with the society crowd she wore it around.

A tremendous light has gone out. Boston is a poorer place for it. And if she’d been alive to see all those cars being parked at the Four Seasons in her honor, Joan Cutler would’ve been incredulous (and slightly embarrassed) by all the fuss, and she would’ve said something along the lines of: “All this, and we’re not even raising money for charity?”

Photo captions, top to bottom: Jared Bowen and Susanne Hatje at the Peabody Essex Museum; Governor Patrick and Carol Fulp at the Anti-Defamation League luncheon; Michael Schlow and Evan Deluty at One Starry Night; Joan Cutler