Contributors: Something Old, Something New

The purpose of Robb Report’s Ultimate Gift Guide is to showcase what the top names in the luxury market can do when there are no limitations placed on price or creativity," says Jessica Taylor, Robb Report senior editor and Ultimate Gift Guide coordinator ("21 Ultimate Gifts," page 141). Compiling the list can be challenging, Taylor says, even for a magazine dedicated to covering the luxury market. "The issues we put out every month already have a wow factor," she says. "So when we say ‘ultimate,’ we mean we are presenting gift items and experiences that are beyond the beyond."

The Robb Report editorial staff met each week for several months, from early spring to late summer, to examine and vote on hundreds of contenders, including one of the winners, the Blue Venus (pictured). "The piece is truly exceptional," Taylor says. "It’s against our policy to even consider an item whose price cannot be published, but in this instance we made a rare exception because of its provenance." Indeed, the 4-inch statuette, whose value is in the tens of millions of dollars, holds a prominent place in Russian history, first belonging to the Duke of Orleans, then Catherine the Great, and finally Prince Felix Youssoupov, who had a role in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin before the Russian Revolution.

Christopher Hall rarely falls in love with contemporary houses, but a home in Delray Beach, Fla., featured in this month’s issue ("Lateral Move," page 294), captured his heart. "There are many thoughtless buildings being put up today, built without the attention, quality, or materials," Hall says. "They’re not going to be around 50 years from now. I would contrast that with this home: The designers and owners paid attention to the design, materials, and details, and it’s going to be around a long time."

The San Francisco–based writer’s long-standing interest in historic preservation and architecture—"As a kid I loved going to missions," he says—was a factor that, along with his love of writing, led him away from a career in law to a more satisfying one in journalism. For the past 14 years he has been writing about food, architecture, and design for publications such as The New York Times and Preservation magazine. "I liked this piece because the owners were really involved in creating their home," Hall says. "With some stories that I do, the owners are not that involved; they turn everything over to the architects and designers. In this case the owners not only worked with the designers, but initiated ideas."

When not writing for USA Today or spending time with his family, Marco R. della Cava is fueling his passion for cars, which, for more than two years, has included writing for Robb Report—as he did this month with a story on Bruce Canepa’s enterprise ("Santa’s Workshop," page 307). "Canepa is an ex–racecar driver who knows these cars amazingly well," says della Cava. "He goes out to race the cars so that he can determine exactly what is to be improved. No [other] car shop has someone on staff with that kind of experience."

Canepa is partial to Porsches, and because della Cava drives an old air-cooled Porsche 911, visiting Canepa’s showroom and shop was a dream, as was talking to Canepa face-to-face. "There are times when you go and you write about cars, and they’re beautiful, but they’re inanimate objects, so meeting a person who is a personality behind the cars is always interesting," della Cava says. The car that stood out the most was the 1966 Ferrari. "It was stripped, but just looking at it—just the body—you could tell that thing was going to be absolutely amazing." 

CORRECTION: The November issue’s From the Editors column ("The Host of Hosts," page 60) should have identified Mr. and Mrs. Winston Churchill Guest as attendees at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball 42 years ago. Also, November’s 2008 Holiday Host Guide ("Elements of Spirit," page 282) misspelled Johnnie Walker—perhaps a consequence of our enjoying too much Johnnie Walker.

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