Society Confidential: Taubman art awes New Yorkers

Susan Whitall and Chuck Bennett

Taubman exhibit awes blase New Yorkers

An art-obsessed Forbes copy editor, Richard Hyfler, offered his take on the exhibition at Sotheby’s that ended Tuesday of billionaire developer A. Alfred Taubman’s breathtaking collection of art. The Taubman art starts going up for auction Wednesday. Just what kind of art did developing all of those shopping malls buy? The collection, Hyfler wrote for, “could fill a quality museum in a not especially large city.” The writer went on to say that the part of the Taubman collection up for view (and auction) — because “it’s not clear what the family is keeping” — serves as an anthology of Western art of the past few centuries, while noting the collection contains one of the few ugly Romney portraits. Taubman was a former chairman of Sotheby’s, and the auction house has given his estate the biggest guarantee for a single collection in auction history: $500 million.

Masquerade birthday for Cutraro

“Dorothy,” from the Wizard of Oz, was spotted easing down the road in Birmingham on Sunday evening dressed in the familiar baby blue and white gingham-checked pinafore, ruby slippers and even a basket for her little dog, Toto. She (or was it a he?) walked into the city’s Bella Piatti restaurant to a warm greeting from a scantily clad “Tarzan” and his favorite girl, “Jane.” Turns out, it was the annual birthday celebration for Nino Cutraro (Tarzan), who owns Bella Piatti with his wife, Liz (Jane) Cutraro. The party drew some 75 guests, including a number of high-profile Detroiters — many unrecognizable for the occasion — all done up in over-the-top costumes, each bringing a toy donation for Variety Children’s Charity in lieu of gifts for the birthday boy. We saw WDIV’s Devin Scillian and his wife, Corey, done up as pharaohs, Bacco Ristorante’s Luciano and Monica DelSignore dressed as pirates, and Honigman Miller Law Firm partner Lawrence McLaughlin and his wife, Patty, portraying a roaring ’20s gangster — was that a real machine gun? — and his flapper girl, to mention a few. By the way, we couldn’t tell at first, but Dorothy was a man — Craig Williamson of Birmingham, a regular Bella Piatti customer.

Vegas party raises funds for Rugiero diabetes fund

If the Dearborn Performing Arts Center looked like Las Vegas on Saturday night, it was intentionally so, for the Rugiero family’s annual Casino Royale party to honor the family’s late patriarch, Antonio Rugiero Sr., who lived with Type 2 diabetes for almost 40 years.

Emceed by the vivacious Lila Lazarus, the party featured gambling tables (with guests betting play money for prizes), Mark Randisi and his band performing their Frank Sinatra-, Vegas-style show, and faux celebrities, Detroit’s own “Jack Nicholson” (Craig Jonas — we saw you fooling everybody at the McCartney show) and Elvis, er, Fred Wolfe. A massive buffet filled with hearty Italian cuisine from the Rugiero family restaurants — Antonio’s and Roman Village — lined the back wall of the venue. An estimated $100,000 was raised for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center through the Antonio Rugiero Sr. Diabetes Research Fund.