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RSVP : A Trip Into the Past for the Sake of the Future

June 07, 1995|BETTY GOODWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Beverly Hills Hotel wasn't the only fabled piece of real estate being inspected by formally dressed revelers over the weekend.

Pickfair, the former home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, was the location for the Museum of Contemporary Art's fund-raiser, organized by the museum's Projects Council, Saturday night.

"I opened it when my ex-wife wanted to have a Christmas party in December; I opened it when my girlfriend wanted to have a birthday party and I opened it tonight," said Pickfair owner Meshulam Riklis, who razed the original structure and rebuilt it along similar lines when he and his wife Pia Zadora bought the Beverly Hills landmark.

Now that the marriage is over, Riklis lives alone in the guest house and the main house is pretty much empty save for a few couches, tasseled curtains galore and walls full of contemporary art. Riklis, a collector, said there was a lot more art before the divorce settlement.

Just as the 349 guests were giving themselves guided tours of the empty mansion, Zadora arrived. She was stopping by on her way to the Beverly Hills Hotel to borrow a Mercedes. "I realized my mother can't get into my Range Rover with the dress she's wearing," she said, adding, "Great house, isn't it?"

Mandy Einstein, the evening's co-chairwoman, was thrilled to see the museum crowd had dressed to the nines, put on their jewels and "got into the mood of Pickfair and what Mr. Riklis has created. People were dying to see Pickfair," she said. "Until 4 p.m., people were calling and asking if we could make a space for them."

Under an enormous white tent on the lawn, dinner was served on black tablecloths and there was dancing to a full orchestra.

As the night went on, some people wondered what parties must have been like when Pickfair was Pickfair. "In those days, the studios did everything for you," said Cliff Einstein, Mandy's husband and a MOCA trustee.

"The parties were lavish beyond belief," Lenore Greenberg, another trustee, said. "I don't think they had parties to raise money."

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