It’s become practically a mystery story: The Case of The Donald’s Repainted Hand.
But the only person who knows the true story is the man who painted — and at Donald Trump‘s insistence, repainted — the Republican presidential candidate’s hand on his Mar-A-Lago portrait, the artist himself, Ralph Wolfe Cowan.
The West Palm Beach painter tells us the full story — and clears up what he says are discrepancies in the accounting of it — as well as talking about his long career painting romantic portraits of kings, movie stars and moguls, everybody from Elvis to Princess Grace to Michael Jackson.
On Wednesday, yacht owner Thomas Henry Baker’s boat, the Time Out, ended up on the beach just south of the Palm Beach Inlet as he returned from a trip to the Bahamas. Baker, who police say admitted drinking Long Island iced teas on board, blamed his GPS for directing him to shallow waters near the beach. He was charged with boating under the influence, his second such arrest in the last month.
Back in 1984, Mollie Wilmot’s maid awakened her the day after Thanksgiving, saying the society hostess had guests at her oceanfront mansion, one door south of what was then still the Kennedy estate.
Wilmot expected it was the photographer scheduled to shoot her house for Town & Country magazine that day.
Instead, it was the captain and 10-member crew of a 197-foot Venezuelan freighter now towering over her pool cabana as the derelict rust bucket pounded her seawall into concrete chips.
Ever the hostess, Wilmot served the crew finger sandwiches, caviar and coffee in her gazebo, becoming the glamorous star of a reality show playing out on her beach.
I was working for a Miami TV station at the time and was among the gaggle of reporters and photographers who showed up later that day.
To us, Wilmot offered hot cocoa on cold mornings and icy martinis at cocktail hour almost every evening. (I recall the network correspondents who didn’t have a story on the air that night indulging. The rest of us were always on deadline or preparing for live shots.)
In her big white sunglasses, Wilmot, a horse breeder and department store heiress who died in 2002, became a national figure as she tottered around her pool patio, always wearing white while carrying her dog, a white fur ball named “Fluff.”
While various agencies debated how best to get the freighter afloat and reporters made bets on when it would be hauled out to sea, the droll Wilmot gathered her Palm Beach friends to sip cocktails and watch the news unfold live from her back yard.
After overstaying its welcome by 105 days, the Mercedes was finally hauled away to become an artificial reef off the Broward County coast.
Disney studios hoped to turn the saga into a movie called “Palm Beached,” but Wilmot balked at the choice of Bette Midler playing her as well as a plot line that had her cavorting with the ship’s captain.
Wilmot’s house was sold and demolished after her death. A new house on the property sold for $23 million in 2014.
Melania Trump will try to repair her husband’s basement-dwelling ratings with women tonight while also talking about her own immigrant experience, say RNC organizers.
As tonight’s convention headliner, Melania will likely try to bolster her husband’s claims that women love him despite polls that show Hillary Clinton has the lead among women voters 52 to 37 percent.
As she has in the past, Melania is likely to emphasize that when she immigrated from Slovakia in 1996 to future her modeling career, she played by the rules before becoming an American citizen in 2006.
Making the list is The Thompson, a new hotel on the once-again-fashionable northern end of Miami Beach. The retro beach chic look of the pet-friendly hotel is meant to remind us of the ’50’s, when the neighborhood was the the hang-out of the Rat Pack. There’s even a Carmen Miranda suite. Michelle Bernstein, the former chef at the Omphoy (now Eau Palm Beach) helms the kitchen at the hotel’s Seagrape restaurant.
Another hotel on the list has a Palm Beach connection, although it’s located a thousand or so miles south. The Playa Grande Beach Club on the Dominican Republic’s north shore was designed by Celerie Kemble, who grew up in Palm Beach and whose mother, Mimi McMakin, is the founder of Kemble Interiors. Designed in a colonial style with gingerbread fretwork, copper soaking tubs and a soft pastel palette, the nine bungalows were created to look like they’d been around for decades, Kemble has said.
The list includes other new hotels in the Carolinas, Virginia and Savannah.
When Donald Trump mentioned his hiring of foreign workers at Mar-A-Lago in Thursday’s debate, viewers not familiar with Palm Beach might have been wondering:
What is “the season”? Aren’t there four of them?
Everywhere but South Florida, where there is only one season that counts. That’s the winter season, roughly October-November to late April, when snowbirds come down from Canada and the northern sections of the United States to thaw out and spend money down here.
Their dollars keeps our tourism-based industry afloat but also causes some consternation with crowded restaurants, more traffic on the roads, etc.