Houston, we have just what you need to keep up your classy image in these dire economic days: A large story in The New York Times about a home here so lavishly decorated that "it's hard not to gape at a gilt and mirrored hall so boisterously baroque that you half expect Marie Antoinette to appear and offer you cake."
Take that, unemployed and bitter America.
Houston surgeon Anthony Walter, we're told, built the house in Southampton ("where several jailed Enron executives have impressive homes," the Times notes) as an homage to his wife.
"Lighted by sparkling chandeliers, the hall is 100 feet by 25 feet, with a soaring 22-foot-high coffered ceiling in gilt and lacquer. The walls are embellished with gilt cherubs, roses, feathers, foliage and birds. Enormous and richly hued paintings in elaborate jeweled frames depict romantic, mythological and biblical scenes."
Classy. And perfect if you're looking to reinforce cliches about rich rubes from Texas.
Oh, and in case bad taste wasn't enough, there's the religious angle:
Dr. Walter says he hopes that his artistry will inspire others to devote themselves to their spouses and to God. One of the finished paintings, for instance, is his version of the Judgment of Paris, only it depicts him as Paris, turning away from the Greek goddesses in favor of his wife.
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So Houston is coming off looking great in all this.
The Times notes that Walter has tried to interest the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in his home, "but they could care less."
So at least there's one redeeming aspect to the tale.
-- Richard Connelly