The extraordinary Bel-Air Kirkeby Mansion, the beloved home of the late Carlotta and Arnold Kirkeby, is getting every bit of the attention it deserves. Next Thursday the CHIPS (Colleague Helpers in Philanthropic Service) lead off with a major fund-raiser "Inside the Gates," giving benefactors a chance to thrill at the vistas and the mansion, restored to all its grandeur by Los Angeles' top designers.
Offspring Carla Kirkeby and her brother Arnold C. Kirkeby are the generous instigators. The prestigious Pratesi Linens Co. will associate with Harry Winston Inc. for a jewel of an event, creating what's called "the first annual Pratesi Exhibition House Tour." But, this is double time: CHIPS will host the afternoon guided tour of the estate, including the informal presentation of Dede Pratesi's new collection of imported lingerie. Carla and Arnold will host tea dancing in the ballroom for those intrepid tourists with stamina after covering the 25 exhibits on the 6 1/2-acre estate.
Then, the following Friday night, July 25, Elizabeth Taylor and the Athos Pratesis host an evening tour of the estate followed by a dinner dance honoring Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. That's a $1,000-per-couple event to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
Design luminaries from different worlds are participating in the two-day affair. Creating a series of exhibition rooms and tableaux are Kalef Alaton, Tom Buckley, Geraldine Chutuk, Lawn Clark, Susan Cohen, Waldo Fernandez, Gail Hardesty, Jarrett Hedborg, Georgia Johnston, Barbara Lockhart, William H. Maguire, Jane Kirkeby, Stephen Tomar, Stuart Lampert, Pasquale Vazzana and more. Arnold Ashkenazy is loaning Van Gogh, Dufy and Laurencin paintings from the Ashkenazy Collection. Display artists Pierre of Pratesi and Ron Basford of Gumps will create visual presentations of Pratesi bed, table and kitchen linens. Famous for their silk sheets, the Pratesis are sending antique linens from Milan for the occasion.
In the library and private study, decorated by Jack Lowrance, Harry Winston rare jewels will be shown. Florist David Jones will create settings.
The Kirkeby Estate, considered by some to be the finest in Los Angeles, boasts a fascinating history. It was designed in the '30s by architect Sumner Spaulding for Lynn Atkinson, the engineer who built Boulder Dam. He adored the house, but the story goes that Mrs. Atkinson took an instant dislike to the place and refused to move in. During a low spot, Atkinson settled a gambling debt with hotel magnate Kirkeby, giving him the mansion in lieu of cash. The Kirkebys lived there happily from 1945 until Carlotta's death six months ago.
Mrs. Robert (Justine Bloomingdale), CHIPS president, is heading her list of invitations with founding members of the Colleagues, who held their first Glamour Sale in the ballroom. Among those expected are Betsy Bloomingdale, Eleanore Colt, Billie Converse, Marji Brandeis, Onnalee Doheny, Louise Good, Ginny Milner, Erlenne Sprague and Jeanne Trousdale.
CHIPS (they support the Children's Institute International) guiding tours (due to Bel-Air parking restrictions, guests will be shuttled from UCLA) will be Kathryn Klinger Belton, Vici Billings, Kathy Caldwell, Serena Caroll, Susan Gray, Wendy Stark Gorsuch, Marcia Hobbs, Elizabeth Flynn Jennings, Deborah Lanni, Carolyn Murphy Milner, Victoria Mouradian, Phyllis Riddell, Lyn Vandegrift and Narcissa Cox Vanderlip.
Among those joining Miss Taylor for her benefit will be Sheldon Andelson, Warren Beatty, the Phil Donohues, David Geffen, George Hamilton, Barbra Streisand, Abigail Van Buren, and from New York, Ronald Winston, the Claude Saujets and Count Enrico Carimati de Carimate.
The Medici were an Italian family that ruled Florence and later Tuscany for more than three centuries (1434-1737), and they were known as patrons of the arts, giving commissions and friendship to artistic geniuses of the Renaissance. At the Medici Awards of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce 450 black-tie guests dined beneath the moon and stars the other evening in the balm of the Huntington Library Art Gallery terrace and paid tribute to modern-day Medici in Los Angeles.
Eli Broad, whose own company, Kaufman and Broad, won a Medici in 1985, was in the spotlight as chairman, happily noting the growth of the dinner from 250 last year to 450 this year. And Charlton Heston, the man who's "played three Presidents, three saints and two geniuses" (his pen and ink sketches have also been exhibited in New York), saluted the 1986 recipients: