Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé

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The Baron de Redé in the middle at the Oriental ball in 1969.[1] Photo by Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield.

Oskar Dieter Alex von Rosenberg-Rédé, 3rd Baron von Rosenberg-Redé[2][3][4] (4 February 1922 – 8 July 2004), aka Alexis, Baron de Rédé, was a prominent French banker, aristocratic aesthete, collector,[5] and socialite.

Rédé was named in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1972.[6][7]

Birth[edit]

Oskar Dieter Alex von Rosenberg-Redé[8] was born in Zurich, Switzerland, the younger son and third and youngest child of Oskar Adolf von Rosenberg-Redé, Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1878–1939), a banker from Austria-Hungary.[9] His father—whose mother was Hungarian, whose father was unknown, and who was adopted by a banker by the name of Rosenberg—became a citizen of Liechtenstein and was created a baron by the Emperor of Austria in 1916.[3][2][10][11] Alexis's mother was Edith von Kaulla, a member of an ennobled German Jewish family that had been part-owners of the Bank of Württemberg. Redé was educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland.

He had two siblings:

  • Hubert von Rosenberg-Redé, 2nd Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1919–1942)
  • Marion von Rosenberg-Redé (born 1916), who was handicapped [3]

Following the suicide of his father at the family's estate Villa Rosin near Vienna, Redé moved to New York City, where he briefly attempted to acquire American citizenship.[4][12] His brother committed suicide in Hollywood in 1942, whereupon Redé became the third and last Baron von Rosenberg-Redé, which was typically abbreviated as Baron de Redé in France. In 1946 he returned to Paris, in the entourage of Elsie de Wolfe.[9]

Aesthete[edit]

Baron de Redé was a committed aesthete. In 1949, he moved into the ground floor of the 17th century Hôtel Lambert on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris and restored the building and its décor. In 2003, he was appointed a commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres,[13] for his restoration of the Hôtel Lambert.[14]

Redé's notoriety rested on being a kept man. His wealth derived from his lover, Arturo Lopez-Willshaw (1900–62), a married millionaire Chilean, who settled $1 million on Redé shortly after they became a couple. Lopez-Willshaw, however, continued to maintain a formal residence with his wife, Patricia, in Neuilly.[5] As Redé recalled of the beginning of his relationship with Lopez-Willshaw, which commenced when he was 19 in 1941, "I was not in love. But I needed protection, and I was aware that he could provide this."[6] In addition, he observed, "The money gave me the security I craved, and it would also enable me to look after my handicapped sister."[7]

In 1953, author Christian Mégret published Danaé, a roman à clef based on Redé's and Lopez-Willshaw's life together, the racy details provided by one of their close friends, Mégret's companion, Ghislaine, Princess de Polignac.[15][8]

Lopez-Willshaw's wife, a first cousin born Patricia Lopez-Huici, was cool towards her husband's companion though the three often traveled together and attended social events as a group.[9][16] In 1962, when Arturo Lopez-Willshaw died, Redé inherited half of his fortune;.[9] To manage it, he joined Prince Prince Rupert Loewenstein in taking control of Leopold Joseph & Sons, a bank where he served as the deputy chairman. With Loewenstein, Redé was closely involved in managing the money of the Rolling Stones; and he was a founder of Artemis, an investment fund specializing in the purchase of fine art.

Role as host[edit]

The baron was described as "the Eugene de Rastignac of modern Paris" by Sir Henry 'Chips' Channon and as "the best host in all Europe"; his parties were famous.[17]

Redé's Hôtel Lambert dinner parties were at the center of le tout Paris. Philippe Jullian described the world of Lopez-Willshaw and Redé as like a small 18th-century court: Members of the circle included the poet and patron of the Surrealists, Marie-Laure de Noailles (1902–70); such musicians as Henri Sauguet, Georges Auric, and Francis Poulenc; and the artist Christian Berard. Important influences were the interior decorators Georges Geffroy and Victor Grandpierre. Cecil Beaton photographed Nina Ricci's costumes for "the elegant aesthete" at the sensational 1951 Bal oriental given by his friend Carlos de Beistegui at his Venetian palace, the Palazzo Labia.[18]

In 1956, at Alexis de Redé's Bal des Têtes, young Yves Saint Laurent provided many of the headdresses—the Duchess of Windsor being one of the judges—and received a boost to his career. When Diana Vreeland heard of the plans for Redé's upcoming Bal oriental, to be given on 5 December 1969, she promptly contacted the Baron expressing her interest in having the event photographed by Vogue.[19] The guest list was the crème de la crème of the international high society, with such attendees as Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, Aimée de Heeren, Georgian Abreu or Douce François Freitas.

Later life[edit]

In 1972 Redé had his portrait painted by the fashionable painter Anthony Christian. In 1975 the Hôtel Lambert was purchased by Baron Guy de Rothschild, whose wife, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild was a close friend of Redé, who inherited her beloved dachshund "Whiskey"; the Rothschilds henceforth used it as their Paris residence.

Death[edit]

He died suddenly at the home of a friend, Carmen Saint, at the age of 82. His memoirs, Alexis: The Memoirs of the Baron de Redé, were published posthumously in 2005. Hugo Vickers was its editor and ghostwriter.[20]

Rédé's estate (notably the contents of his apartments at the Hôtel Lambert) was auctioned after his death by Sotheby's and realized millions of pounds. Included in the many items, which comprised three catalogues, was a 32-light chandelier expected to sell for between one and two million euros.

Barons von Rosenberg-Redé[edit]

  • Oskar Adolf von Rosenberg-Redé, 1st Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1916–1939)
  • Hubert von Rosenberg-Redé, 2nd Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1939–1942)
  • Oskar Dieter Alex von Rosenberg-Redé, 3rd Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1942–2004)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alexis: The Memoirs of the Baron de Rédé. 2005. p. 131. ISBN 1-904349-03-X. 
  2. ^ Full name of Oskar Dieter Alex von Rosenberg-Rédé cited on passenger manifest, in 1939; accessed on ancestry.com on 5 January 2012
  3. ^ a b Full title of Baron von Rosenberg-Rédé" also cited in Der Wirtschaftskrieg: Frankreich, bearbeitet von Hermann Curth und Hans Wehberg (G. Fischer, 1918), page 274
  4. ^ Title also given in an October 1939 immigration document filed in Auswanderungsamt und Auswanderungsbüro. Überseeische Auswanderungen aus der Schweiz, 1910-1953. Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv. E 2175 - 2, Band 56.
  5. ^ The Collection Du Baron de Redé Provenant de L'Hôtel Lambert., Paris, March 16 and 17, 2005, took two volumes to describe 908 lots. The first volume described eighteenth-century French furniture, works of art, paintings and fine books; the second was devoted to gold and silversmiths' work, porcelain and glass, and memorabilia. The first part of the sale realized €5.1 million (US$6.8)]: "Ce premier succès rend hommage au goût et à l'œil absolu du Baron de Redé"— "This first success renders homage to the taste and the perfect eye of the Baron de Redé", Sotheby's reported afterwards; the catalogues themselves are collector's items, currently selling at US$295. An earlier sale, Meubles et Objets D'Art Provenant de L'Hôtel Lambert et du Chateau de Ferrières, was conducted by Sotheby's Monte Carlo in May 1975: it was one of the premier sales of French furniture in that decade.
  6. ^ Vanity Fair
  7. ^ Ultimate Style - The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004. p. 117. ISBN 2 84323 513 8. 
  8. ^ Full name as given on passenger manifest, on 21 October 1939; accessed on ancestry.com on 5 January 2012
  9. ^ a b c d Baron de Rede Daily Telegraph; September 7, 2004
  10. ^ Baron de Rede The Daily Telegraph
  11. ^ This was a genuine title, though, since it was not of a rank sufficient to appear in the Almanach de Gotha, its validity was often questioned.
  12. ^ Citizenship request cited on 1939 naturalization papers filed and accessed on ancestry.com on 5 January 2012
  13. ^ Recipients must have "significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance", according to the Order's guidelines.
  14. ^ See also Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery and Jean-Bernard Naudin, Private Houses of Paris: The "Hotels Particuliers" Revealed 2000.
  15. ^ Memoirs of the Baron de Redé
  16. ^ [1]The death notice of Patricia Lopez-Willshaw in Kitzbühel on 14 January 2010]
  17. ^ Daily Telegraph, 9 July 2004
  18. ^ A portfolio was sold at Doyle New York, 17 November 2005 (On-line preview).
  19. ^ Diana Vreeland correspondence, New York Public Library
  20. ^ The World of Baron Alexis de Rede: Interview with Hugo Vickers by Duncan Campbell, Acne Paper # 10, August 2010

References[edit]

  • Sir Cecil Beaton, The Glass of Fashion (London) 1954
  • Ned Rorem, The Paris Diary and the New York Diary
  • Sir Henry Channon, 'Chips', the. Diaries of Sir Henry Channon (London, 1967)
  • de Nicolay-Mazery, Christiane and Naudin, Jean-Bernard, Private Houses of Paris: The "Hôtel particulier", (New York) 2000.
  • Vickers, Hugo, ed. Alexis: the Memoirs of the Baron de Rédé (London) 2005
  • Foulkes, Nicholas, BALS: Legendary Costume Balls of the Twentieth Century, Assouline, New York, 2011 (ISBN 9781614280002)
  • Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Adelslexikon Band XII, Seite 32, Band 125 der Gesamtreihe, C. A. Starke Verlag, Limburg (Lahn) 2001
  • Wolf Karge: Heiligendamm. Erstes deutsches Seebad. Gegründet 1793. Demmler-Verlag, Schwerin 1993, ISBN 3-910150-17-9 and ISBN 978-3-910150-17-1
  • André Kostolany: Das ist die Börse (Kapitel „Der kleine König"). Das Original aus dem Jahre 1961. Neuauflage, Verlag Börsenmedien, Kulmbach 1999, ISBN 3-922669-37-9 and ISBN 978-3-922669-37-1

External links[edit]