New York

A Tibetan Treasure Trove Leaves Manhattan

Good morning. It’s Thursday. Today we’ll go into a room in a Manhattan apartment that will be recreated, intact, in a museum in Minneapolis. We’ll also get details on why Donald Trump’s next defamation trial will go directly to the damages he should pay the writer E. Jean Carroll.

Alice Kandell, center, with Pujan Gandhi, an assistant curator of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Philip Rudko, an art conservator.Credit…Lucia Vazquez for The New York Times

The movers packed up everything in the small, dimly lit room in Alice Kandell’s apartment on the Upper East Side — golden Buddhas, statues of other deities handcrafted by silversmiths in Tibet hundreds of years ago, painted icons edged with brocade.

This was after she had said that “great art shouldn’t be stuck in an apartment for a few people to see, like my friends who say something like, ‘Oh, my grandmother had a Buddha.’” And after she had decided to give everything in that room away, to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Watching as the items were inventoried and hauled away “tore my heart out,” Kandell said. But she said there would be an audience for them in Minneapolis: The museum noted that city is home to the second largest Tibetan population in the United States, after New York City.

Kandell — a child psychologist, author and photographer with a long interest in Himalayan culture — assembled Tibetan statues in bronze, silver and gold, along with paintings and ritual objects, over more than 35 years. She arranged the room they were in like a shrine, similar to one in the home of a wealthy family or a small temple in Tibet.

Each piece had “real significance,” she said, “and I love that, but together, they form something that’s very different. When you walk in here, there’s supposed to be a feeling, maybe a second of a spiritual feeling. A moment.”

Robert A.F. Thurman, the president of Tibet House U.S., wrote in 2009 that he had been “thunderstruck” the first time he walked into the room. He also wrote that his wife, Nena, the managing director of Tibet House, “experienced a visual flash of energy that was so powerful, she nearly fainted.”

Many of the objects they saw then went to the Smithsonian Institution. Kandell acquired more — the items that have now gone to Minneapolis. The museum plans to display them in a room like Kandell’s that will open next August.

Kandell’s first encounter with Tibetan culture and art came when she was preparing for a college-sponsored trip to Russia. A friend, Hope Cooke, asked if she wanted to visit Tibet on the way home. “I said, ‘Sure,’” she recalled.

“I called my parents — ‘Guess what, I’m going to Tibet.’” Kandell recalled. “Usually they were very cooperative, but they said no, there’s a war going on in Tibet with China. Can’t go.”

Kandell went anyway, but got only as far as a hotel in Darjeeling, India, in the Eastern Himalayas where Mother Teresa had been sent after joining the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. That was where Cooke met Palden Thondup Namgyal, the crown prince of Sikkim, then the smallest kingdom in Asia and a protectorate of India (now an Indian state).

Cooke married the prince in 1963, and he assumed power after his father’s death the following year.

Then the invitation to the coronation, in April 1965, arrived in Kandell’s mailbox.

“I thought I couldn’t go, because I was in graduate school at the time,” Kandell said. But she told a professor — “Please, please, please, there’s this coronation, this American girl is going to become a queen,’” she recalled. “It sounded so crazy, but that’s when the professor said, ‘When fantasy becomes reality, a member of the Harvard psychology department should be there to witness it.’”

Off she went, to attend elaborate ceremonies where court musicians sang that “a flower of the West blossoms among us.” (Namgyal was deposed in a coup in 1973; he and Cooke divorced in 1980. Namgyal died two years later, at age 58.)

Credit…Lucia Vazquez for The New York Times

Kandell began collecting in the late 1980s, and in the 1990s acquired the holdings of Philip Rudko, who had collected Tibetan and Mongolian art for decades and has continued to work with her.

“I don’t know what makes a collector,” she said, recalling a conversation with Rudko after she had decided to send the objects to Minnesota: “I said to him, ‘Are we going to continue to collect Tibetan art?’ and he said, ‘Don’t talk to me about collecting Tibetan art. It’s an addiction. It’s easier to get off of heroin.’”

And then she led the way to another room in her apartment that was filled with Russian Orthodox icons — a Bible with a silver cover, a drinking cup adorned with large silver figures, a lamp with a mica shade.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said.


Weather

Expect another blistering day, with a high in the 90s. The heat advisory will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Temperatures will drop into the 70s tonight, with a chance of storms.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until Sept. 16 (Rosh Hashana).


The latest New York news

Credit…Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

Local news

  • Car theft: The Police Department will designate one patrol car in every precinct to address an increase in the number of stolen vehicles across the city, which officials said has been fueled by a nationwide surge in thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

  • Potential strike: New York City public schools open today with parents concerned about a possible school bus strike. Union leaders and school bus companies are locked in contract negotiations.

  • No to a no-bid contract: A no-bid $432 million contract that New York City officials gave to a medical services provider to house and care for migrants has been rejected by the New York City comptroller’s office.

  • Ecuavoley, anyone?: Just outside the U.S. Open grounds, Queens locals, many of them immigrants from Ecuador, play a volleyball-like sport imported from their country that brings the community together.

  • Dan Doctoroff: His efforts to rebuild the city after 9/11 brought him power. A terrible diagnosis brought him peace.


Trump’s next defamation trial will only involve damages

Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Fast-forward to the damages Donald Trump should pay. That was the ruling from a federal judge, who said that the writer E. Jean Carroll does not have to prove that Trump defamed her in a lawsuit she filed after she won a similar case in May.

Judge Lewis Kaplan of Federal District Court said on Wednesday that Carroll must show only what damages, if any, Trump has to pay for remarks he made in 2019 after she first publicly accused him of raping her decades ago in a department-store dressing room. Trump called the allegation “totally false,” saying that he had never met Carroll and could not have raped her because “she’s not my type.”

The case before Judge Kaplan is scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 15, although Trump has asked a federal appeals court to delay it. Carroll opposes a delay. The appeals court has scheduled oral arguments on that question for next week.

The case that Carroll won in May involved comments Trump had posted on his Truth Social website, denigrating her claim as “a complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.” A Manhattan jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and awarded her $2.02 million in damages for the attack, along with $2.98 million for defamation.

Judge Kaplan said on that Trump’s comments in 2019 were “substantially the same” as the statements that prompted the defamation award in May.

Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said she looked forward to a trial limited to damages “for the original defamatory statements.” Alina Habba, who represents Trump, said she was confident that the earlier verdict would “ be overturned on appeal,” which she said would render Judge Kaplan’s ruling moot.


METROPOLITAN DIARY

The elusive ellipsis

Dear Diary:

From Park Slope to Poughkipsiss,
Better fear the sly Ellipsis,
Since this piece of punctuation acts borracho, boozed, besotted.
Vaguely vacuous? Contraire!
Knows full well why it is there,
Disingenuous, duplicitous and dotted.

These egotistical ellipses,
They do not shoot from their hipsees,
Omitting words and phrases that to them reek of redundance.
While parentheses appease you,
(Adding meaning, sure to please you)
Ellipsis says, “Cut to the chase, enough is not abundance.

Who needs words that are superfluous,
Like chocolate on a Charlotte Russe,
When anyone can understand the clues in context lurking.”
And so, they never hesitate,
To edit and manipulate:
“You do not need to spell it out when dialogue is working.”

Truth be told, it’s tough to fathom,
Had I a choice, I’d really rathom,
Simply finish up the sentence though the meaning is implicit.
Reader, draw your own conclusion,
And eschew the rude intrusion,
Eclipsis the ellipsis and you will not be complicit.

I could go on and on, but why?
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the inference …

— Lou Craft

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.


Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Bernard Mokam and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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