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Frenetic, competitive, multifarious, filthy and beautiful: the flower business is an emblem of Manhattan

THE Temple of Dendur was built on the Nile in 15BC by the emperor Augustus for the goddess Isis of Philae. Its ruin now sits in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, in an atrium bathed in light from Central Park. Today, at the paws of a Sphinx staring out towards Long Island, there is mayhem. In a few hours a dinner will be held here in honour of a modern-day pharaoh, Leonard Lauder, a cosmetics billionaire who has donated over $1 billion of cubist art to the Met. An army of future Oscar winners temporarily working as waiters is being told how not to drop food on the laps of some of the world’s richest people. Leon Black, Wilbur Ross and John Paulson, all apex Wall Street predators, are among the guests.


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