Nothing about the Manhattan apartment where Dorothy Berwin and Dominique Lévy live with their three children says kibbutz. Not the double-height living room or marble bathrooms. Not the artworks displayed on nearly every available surface or the expansive outdoor terrace. Yet, says Lévy, brushing back the errant white streak in her mink brown hair, “Dorothy’s always saying that I want a kibbutz. Because I believe in the kibbutz mentality.”
That’s a shocker. At L&M Arts, the very blue-chip gallery she operates with onetime Goldman Sachs partner Robert Mnuchin, Lévy is a savvy (some say predatory) businesswoman known for her discretion, not for sharing resources. Berwin, a former producer of independent films (On a Clear Day; Walking and Talking) and now active on the Lincoln Center Theater board, has a different take. While she admits that Lévy’s “rigorousness” can be challenging, she says her partner’s greatest quality is “the extraordinary innocence of her soul.”
I see two self-possessed people born to privilege (Lévy comes from a prominent Swiss family; Berwin is the daughter of the late Stanley Berwin, a highly influential corporate attorney in London) who made their way in the world and to each other via separate paths that, in hindsight, seemed destined to converge. On this brilliantly sunny day, however, Berwin, 52, is out of town, and Lévy gives me a tour of the home they share with their children. Caleb, 18, and Samuel, 9, are still at school, and Solal, a curly-blond 2-year-old, is napping.
Striding through the plush living room, Lévy, 45, ticks off signature works by art stars like Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy, Christopher Wool, Rebecca Warren, Ugo Rondinone, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Adel Abdessened, and more—many more. A hint of the innocent within emerges when she moves to the wall of windows overlooking a park beside the East River below. With a wistful glance she says, “The view is amazing”—as if she’s never paused to take it in.
There’s little time for quiet moments. The two women are constantly on the road, either headed to their other home in the Hamptons or bound for Los Angeles, Paris, London, or Geneva on business or to visit family. Lévy keeps a pied-à-terre in Paris. “I’m a real Francophile,” she says. Neither likes the Upper East Side neighborhood where they landed three years ago after a decade of loft living in Tribeca. “Everything else we looked at had low ceilings,” Lévy notes. Absent of shops and bounded by streets where chauffeured cars outnumber pedestrians, their external surroundings feel cold compared with the welcome within.
The couple’s friend Peter Marino, their modernist building’s architect, combined two spacious apartments to accommodate the family, an art collection and a library, and the many vintage 1950s furnishings that attract Lévy, a flea-market hound. (Berwin is also a collector.) The couch in the living room was designed by Francis Sultana, a Garouste & Bonetti sofa sits in a salon under a Takashi Murakami painting, and there are Marc Newson pieces scattered about the abode. The whole place is conveniently set up for hosting the circle of European and American friends that Berwin and Lévy gather from the worlds of art, film, theater, and fashion for parties, like their annual Oscar night blowout. “Their ability to put people together is what’s so fun,” says Brooke Garber Neidich, vice-chair of Lincoln Center Theater. “And they are the magnets.”