Alice Mason: Hostess of the Hour

Alice Mason: Hostess of the Hour

01/25/2024     General, General Furniture & Decorative Arts

NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle is honored to present property from the Collection of New York City Hostess Alice Mason in a series of forthcoming auctions across the 2024 calendar.

Alice F. Mason was born in 1923 to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Duke Christmas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, before moving to New York City in 1952. Following a brief period as a dance instructor to Broadway and Hollywood actors, Mason found her true calling in real estate. Under the guidance of Gladys Mills, founder of Gotham Real Estate, Mason became acquainted with socialites and celebrities, including such prominent names as Marilyn Monroe and the Vanderbilt family.

Throughout the 1950s Mason’s dinner parties were hosted in her quaint one-bedroom apartment. Only 20 guests were invited to these intimate affairs, which featured a buffet, often with trays laid out across the bed due to space concerns. Her smaller parties were a popular success, and Mason’s move to a large eight-room apartment on East 72nd Street allowed for an expanded guest list and a heightened party experience. Between 1962 and 2000, Alice Mason threw at least six parties a year. Three were dedicated to important holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentines Day. At least three other parties were hosted to celebrate events or in a guest’s honor.

Mason perfected the dinner party by meticulously curating each event. She worked to ensure that the 56-person guest list (which included a strict 28 men and 28 women split) featured the perfect balance of personalities from the media, politics and New York society. The guests were always seated at small round tables, according to Mason this allowed for better conversation flow, which was key to a great party. The multi-course dinner, crafted by Mason’s favorite caterer Jean Claude, was served on one of her many beautiful porcelain dinner services (many of which are featured in the January 17 auction). In 1996 The New York Times hailed Mason as the “Hostess-of-the-Hour” and provided a glimpse into the most coveted dinner invitation in the city.

Alice Mason’s legacy includes far more than fabulous dinner parties. In the 1950s, Mason quickly established herself as a powerful broker in the New York City Real Estate market. She worked tirelessly throughout the 1960s to help her clients gain access to many of the most exclusive and elite buildings in Manhattan, many of whom were often barred entry due to social and racial prejudice. Beyond her impact on New York City real estate, Mason was a dedicated political fundraiser and avid follower of international affairs. She hosted multiple fundraising events for former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as the New York Democratic Party. Her political interests expanded to include global affairs through the UN as she assisted many foreign nations in securing permanent missions throughout the city. Mason eventually published and distributed the “Alice Mason Map of Permanent Missions to the United Nations.”

Alice Mason passed away on January 4, 2024 at the age of 100.

The selection of property from the Collection of New York City Hostess, Alice Mason will be offered in Entertaining with Style on January 17 and continue with the English and Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts auction on January 25, followed by Fine Art on February 1 and Doyle at Home on February 7. Many pieces from her Post-Impressionist art collection will be featured in sales later this spring.

           ---- Bailey Johnston, Client Relationships Manager

Upcoming Auctions

• Entertaining with Style | January 17. View Lots

• English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts | January 25. View Lots

• Fine Art | February 1. View Lots

• Doyle at Home | February 7. View Lots

• Impressionist & Modern Art, Post-War & Contemporary Art | May 8. View Lots