Ron Lauder, Mitteleuropan Hero

If you're not in the habit of getting the New Yorker in its proper print format, you're obviously some kind of philistine for whom we have nothing but disdain. Also, you're missing out some incredible stuff that they don't put online. This week, it's Rebecca Mead's stunning portrait of Ronald Lauder, the cosmetics heir/erstwhile mayoral candidate who purchases Klimts the way some of us buy bourbon. Mead performs the classic journalistic job of allowing her subject to hang himself with his own words: Lauder comes off as a completely ridiculous figure even by the standards of rich New Yorkers who owe their fortune to the generation that preceded them. We imagine it took an act of superhuman strength for Mead to keep her jaw attached to the rest of her head during most of the interview, but particularly during this part, where Lauder muses about living in Vienna before the war:

Had he lived there at the time, Lauder says, he might have enjoyed a life even more rewarding than the one permitted him as a Lauder in New York. "I picture myself a little like Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer," he told me. "I would have been very involved in the arts, and have been very interested in making changes. I think I would probably have been more politically active." He imagines that he might even have had a role in averting the devastating course that history took after Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts declined to accept one aspiring student who was moved to join the city's artistic ferment: Adolf Hitler. "I wish the academy had accepted him," Lauder said. "I would have paid for his tuition."
Yeah, he said it. Definitely worth picking up.