|James and Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Hall & Kathryn Murdoch|
All photos: Lieba Nesis
The Hudson Institute held its Global Leadership Award Dinner at the Plaza Hotel on November 30, 2015 with cocktails beginning at 6PM. The Hudson Institute which was founded in 1961, is a research organization which offers practical, innovative solutions to help shape the future. I knew this was an important dinner because when I pulled up in my taxi there were armed NYPD officers outside the Plaza. When I entered the third floor ballroom there stood media titan Rupert Murdoch and his new paramour Jerry Hall. So Jerry went from a liberal stoner named Jagger to a Republican loving Australian named Murdoch - that's a great move and one she seemed pleased with. Hall told me she was most looking forward to hearing Rupert's speech, after confessing she was a Democrat.
Hall is still svelte and attractive with a big mane of shoulder length blonde hair and a wide smile; but gone were her rock 'n' roll days; tonight she looked like a Republican wannabe. It was hard to imagine this was the woman that swept Mick off his feet in the decadent 70's, but here she was in all her glory barely recognizable to the highly intellectual crowd.
|Nancy Kissinger & Joel Klein|
However, someone instantly identifiable was Henry Kissinger who stood there holding court with his amazonian wife, Nancy, nearby. Kissinger, is as sharp witted as ever, belying his 92 years of age and continues to astound all those around him with his brilliance. As the cocktail hour progressed, I felt like I was at a Fox Network News convention with Bill O'Reilly, Brett Baier, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bill Kristol, Neil Cavuto, Joe Lieberman, Scooter Libby, and Roger Ailes (Chairman and CEO of Fox News), coming to pay homage to their boss Rupert Murdoch.
|News anchor Bill O'Reilly|
O'Reilly is much taller than expected and he told me he insists all his clothing be American made with custom suits by Hickey Freeman and shirts by Skip Gambert. Just then real estate titan Larry Silverstein walked by and when I asked the World Trade Center owner what he thought of the Freedom Tower he said he "loved" its design. Oftentimes VIP's are honored at dinners without bringing their friends however, this night was evidently important to Murdoch who bought Lebanese businessman and former Ford Motor Company CEO, Jacques Nasser, in from Australia for the festivities.
|Leon Black and Marie Josee Kravis|
After running into the Kravis's and billionaire Leon Black, who told me he could not miss an event with the one-two punch of a Kissinger-Murdoch partnership, I sat down next to a gentleman whose name tag read Norman Podhoretz. After the head of the Hudson Institute, Ken Weinstein, announced that the dinner raised more than $1.1 million as well as receiving the largest anonymous gift by a single donor of $10 million, I spoke to my seatmate Podhoretz who was the former editor of Commentary magazine for 30 years and has written over 12 books. The genius of this man was readily apparent until he lowered himself by asking my marital status to which I answered "single with no real prospects." Just as I began to reiterate my tale of woe to his wife of 59 years, thankfully Henry Kissinger took to the stage. Kissinger is erudite, stately and charismatic and also very hard to understand.
|Henry Kissinger and Barbara Winston|
What I did make out from his speech was that ISIS was a bad organization and needed to be destroyed and that the United States can't lead from behind, even though Charlie Sheen has done that for years. He warned of the inertia of the US leading to chaos and said he found the situation in Europe extremely worrisome. He then went on to praise Murdoch for being an inspiration to the world and most importantly, said he likes "him as a human being." Murdoch then arrived on stage to a standing ovation with the stateliness of a king and took to the podium without any notes. I was surprised at how handsome and vigorous Murdoch was at the age of 84 and when he opened his mouth an incredible accent emerged-although, one I could not place.
|Elizabeth and Roger Ailes & Kimberly Guilfoyle|
After barely understanding the speech of Kissinger I was equally confused by the Australian accent of Murdoch. Murdoch spoke about Ronald Reagan and China, thanking Kissinger for enhancing relations with Asia. Murdoch went on to say fracking benefited millions of people and that the EPA stands for Environmentalists Punish America. He then criticized the Obama administration for not leading in foreign policy and lamented that America was in a malaise. Rupert means business and nobody is gonna mess with him. His son James sat nearby and nodded approvingly at his father's words. Rupert received a well deserved ovation and the crowd enthusiastically applauded his speech. Murdoch's a star and he lent an importance to the dinner that made it an astounding success.
|Bill Kristol and Scooter Libby|
My partner for the night was Barbara Winston, daughter-in-law of the famous Harry Winston and her diamond necklace which contained about 100 carats had me distracted the entire evening. The NYPD should have been by her side the entire night because she made Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry look like trinkets. At 9PM on the dot, the speaker announced the dinner was over and the crowd filtered out while Rupert Murdoch graciously stayed to pose for pictures and talk with dinner attendees. As Kissinger exited with his wife Nancy, Roger Ailes and Murdoch embraced - another typical Monday night in a City that may sleep, but when awake it can't be beat.
- Lieba Nesis