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Scene & Heard

Millions, mischief and more ... a lively time was had by all at this year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival. In four hours, bidders went to their pockets for $14 million—all to benefit children in Collier County. Naples residents Jay and Patty Baker were the big spenders at the auction. Never have I seen a couple have so much fun giving their money away. The Bakers, along with Bob and Barbara Crown, won one of the most intense bidding wars on a lot that not only includes great wine but walk-on roles on ABC’s hit Desperate Housewives and comedy Back to You, tickets to next year’s Academy Awards and the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, plus lunch with Judge Judy Sheindlin and dinner at the Malibu home of Bill Curtis, the guy who owns this magazine.


Interestingly enough, although the Wine Festival is the event for the elite set in Naples, about half the money raised came from people who don’t live here.

There was action aplenty beyond the auction tent as well. People got so rowdy at the VIP party and during one of the Friday night vintner dinners that the Naples Police were called in to keep the peace. Guests were warned to keep it down, or else ... Trustee Cynthia Sherman, one of the most fashionable women in the community, was seen on Saturday in the same dress as Ali Banks, vintner with Screaming Eagle Wineries (great style minds think alike, yes?) … Much-loved Don Gunther, this year’s chair, couldn’t stop the tears while taking in the touching stories at the Meet the Kids event (and kudos, Don, for a festival well done) … A tip of the toque to chef Damien Dulas of Guy Savoy in Los Angeles. After serving his wonderful creations at the John Scot Muellers’ home Friday night, he stayed on until 2 a.m. cooking a gourmet meal to feed the help. Très gallant.

It’s certainly ball season now. And what a ball I had at the Lee County Cattle Barons’ Ball in the park where the Boston Red Sox play. More than 700 people packed City of Palms Park for this event benefiting the American Cancer Society. It drew such luminaries as Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and his wife, Cyndie. Two guests who truly stepped up to the plate: Pat Logue, founder and former owner of First Home Builders, who made a surprise appearance and offered a full college scholarship to one of the young cancer survivors; and Dave Schwab, owner of Schwab Concrete and a cancer survivor himself, who got into the spontaneous giving mode, too. He donated $10,000 to the ROCK camp for kids with cancer.

The ultra-casual dress and feel of this event make it truly a joy. My favorite money-making booth was the "Are You Smarter than a Redneck?" challenge. Is this an accomplishment to brag about?
I just loved showing up in a cowboy hat, jeans and boots. That Saturday morning, the aisles at Hayloft Western Wear in east Fort Myers were packed with city folk lookin’ fer country duds. My husband was doing his best to get into the spirit. He got real enthusiastic about a particular cowboy belt and buckle. He didn’t notice it said COW GIRL in rhinestones along the back. I laughed devilishly for a moment but then buckled and did what any smart wife would do for her Rhinestone CowBOY.

Now we have the verdict on handshakes from no less an authority than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was on a tour of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates when she dropped in on Suzanne Willis’ Saturday etiquette class for children. When Ginsburg heard the kids were learning about shaking hands, she told them a good handshake is very important. She said every morning all the Supreme Court justices shake hands and that Justice Clarence Thomas has a very hard handshake. A gripping tale indeed.

Our model-in-training, Paige Allen, is at it again. We last reported on the Community School of Naples student being plucked out of the crowd at a Bill Blass show in New York to replace an absent model. Then, at a recent benefit for the Saint Ann School Foundation, she walked the catwalk with the pros again for a Bill Blass trunk show. She didn’t miss a beat, moving in three-inch heels along a Plexiglas floor and over Plexiglas risers—a perilous journey even without the heels. Will a professional contract be coming soon?

Our prominent artist Jonathan Green paints, and the Guadalupe Center is so much the better for his efforts. Jonathan hosted a fundraiser for 175 guests at his East Naples compound and got $12,500 for his painting, Sister. Thanks to organizer Sandra Vasey, the event produced $70,000 for the center … not a bad start to its 25th anniversary celebration.

Take notice of the Gulf Coast Town Center as one of the hottest new nighttime spots around. You’ve got Blu Sushi, Bar Louie and a number of other choice restaurants as well. I can vouch for Blu’s Larry Genta and his manager, Brian DeMartinis. Don’t miss their CoCo Pink Chanel Martini: coconut rum, X-Rated Fusion liqueur, pear juice and cranberry juice, rimmed with strawberry glaze and flaked coconut. If you think it’s too pretty to drink, just wait until that first sip.

Dear Readers: If you come across any news you feel is must-read material for Scene & Heard, please e-mail me at kburns@nbc-2.com. I welcome your contributions.

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