At Ivana Trump’s funeral, a gold colored coffin and the Secret Service
In death as in life, her famous former husband loomed over Ivana Trump’s story.
When a funeral for Mrs. Trump was held at an Upper East Side Catholic church on Wednesday afternoon, former President Donald J. Trump and his now-wife Melania sat in the front row across from their three children: Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr.
The Trump Organization had made the funeral arrangements, and the coffin was a golden hue. The secret service stood by.
St. Vincent Ferrer, photographers and about 100 onlookers stood behind barricades in front of the church. Perhaps the only sign anyone held up read, “PRAYERS AND CONDITIONS TRUMP FAMILY. GOD BLESS AND PROTECT THEM.”
Inside, the church was less than half full. There were plenty of Hermès bags but few bolded names from the gilded Manhattan society the couple inhabited in the 1980s and 1990s.
Most of the talk about Ms. Trump, who died at her New York home last week at the age of 73, has focused on her tireless drive, shaped by growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. Those who praised her also spoke about the friendship Mrs. Trump and her ex-husband forged despite the tabloids’ bitter divorce. (Ms. Trump was briefly married and then widowed before her marriage to Mr. Trump, and the two husbands who succeeded him predeceased her.)
Her children offered a loving glimpse into her energetic parenting style.
In a speech, their son Eric, 38, described his mother as the embodiment of the American Dream, something of a cross between Joan Rivers and Claudia Schiffer, he said.
“She had brains, she had beauty, and she had guts,” he said, further claiming that she won the “hearts and minds of every single person in the US on the Home Shopping Network and QVC.”
He added: “She still holds every single sales record. People worshiped Ivana.”
As a parent, he said, she “ruled with an iron fist and a heart of gold.”
Those two things were the subject of much of Donald Trump Jr.’s speech that followed shortly thereafter.
“During the turbulent times of the past few years, with all the attacks we’ve been under,” said Mr. Trump, 44, “she was the first person to call and ask if maybe I wanted or needed to move back in with her. That call was simultaneously the cutest and most emasculating thing ever. And she could do that with the best of them, and usually it was on purpose.”
As a young child, Mr. Trump said, he went to the Hamptons with his family. There, at Gosman’s (Montauk’s best-known seafood restaurant), he operated in a way that “beyond” everyone’s patience. His mother, he said, took him to the bathroom and showed him “what Eastern European discipline is really about.”
When it was over, he said, she said to him, “And if you cry, we’ll come back here and do it again.”
The younger Mr. Trump – whose fiancé, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, sat across the aisle from him – told a different story about his sister Ivanka, who smashed a very expensive chandelier while she was in the house with a played water polo. “Ivanka managed to quickly convince my mother that it was me,” he said.
At the time, the “cure” was, as he put it, a “wooden spoon,” and what infuriated his mother even more as she spanked him was his passionate denial of having played any part in the wrongdoing. “Not only did I break the chandelier, but now I lied to her,” he said.
But once she realized he was telling the truth, Mr. Trump said, she was “too tired to deal with Ivanka.”
Ivanka Trump, 40, also spoke. Her mother “hated funerals,” she said, bursting into tears as she spoke of the “trailblazer admired by men and women alike” for her “grace and her beauty,” but also for her business acumen and relentless work ethic.
She was also the kind of mother who teased her daughter for leaving a party in St Tropez at 1am (“She stayed until 4am”) and chided her for wearing too modest clothes. “My miniskirts weren’t small enough,” she said. (Ms. Trump wore a black dress and pearls to her mother’s funeral.) Ivana’s motto, her daughter said, is “show them off while you’ve got them.”
“She taught me to study hard, work hard, behave with dignity and good manners, and never marry a man with a bad back,” Ms. Trump said. “It took me years to understand the last one.” (Regarding her daughter’s marriage to Jared Kushner, Ms. Trump said her mother explained that “if Ivanka is ready to give up lobster, she must really love him.” )
“Now she watches us from above and tells us to dry our eyes, have a good time and dance one more song for her,” Ms. Trump said. “Mom, I love you today, every day.”
The crowd consisted of Park Avenue and the fashion industry, although Whitney Robinson, a former Elle Decor editor who had become friends with older Mrs. Trump in recent years, sat in the back and said he had “no idea” who was on most of the people there were.
But they included Paolo Zampolli, the former modeling agent whom Mr. Trump appointed to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Dennis Basso, the fashion designer whose bold fur designs Ms. Trump favored; Couri Hay, the publicist and gossip columnist; and Jeanine Pirro, the right-wing news anchor.
Near the lectern was a billboard of Ms. Trump on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1992, above the caption “Ivana Be a Star.” One of the speakers later named all the other magazines that she has graced the covers of, including Town & Country and Vogue. But Ms. Trump lived an increasingly lonely life in her final years, according to Marc Bouwer, a designer who dressed her for many years and who also sat backwards, wearing a black suit, no shirt, and a sparkling costume jewelry chain that he thought Ms. Trump would have liked She was an uncompromising advocate of pairing fake jewelry with super expensive clothing.
“She had been isolated,” Mr Bouwer continued in a brief interview at the church. “There was a lot of pain, a lot of sadness,” he said, before declining to elaborate.
Dorothy Curry, the former nanny of Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric, was perhaps the most notable speaker. In her two-minute speech, she alluded to that isolation, discussing how she’d been close to Mrs. Trump during the spring and summer of her life, which was followed by a fall and an “inevitable winter” in which “roses died” like she told The Field of Dreams Her former employer became a “sinking swamp” of “parasites” who kept her “afloat” with “illegal dreams and plans.”
“Ivana, we’ve reached out to you many, many times but obviously not far enough,” she said. “We all basically let go of everything and let God, and now you’re completely in God’s hands.”
Mr. Basso, on the other hand, described the good years. He recalled meeting Ms. Trump in September 1983 when he was showing his first collection at the Regency Hotel and afterward she went backstage to meet him.
“She’s standing there in a chocolate brown Gucci,” he said, “and she said, ‘I like you. You are sweet. You’re chubby, but we can fix that.’”
The next day, he said, she came to his showroom for an appointment and walked out with an order for seven pieces, along with instructions to “send the bill to Donald.”
She was, Mr. Basso and others said, a businesswoman who played a crucial role in decorating the hotels and residential buildings her former husband had worked on, including Trump Tower, the Plaza Hotel and the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. And when he ran for president, she was a full-bodied supporter.
Mrs Trump had shared her ex-husband’s hunger for attention, and it wasn’t easy, others said in interviews, as her fame waned and his resurged, first with the television show The Apprentice and then as he became a successful president Candidate. The grown children she had raised became appendages to him.
Almost two hours into the funeral, pallbearers carried the coffin outside to a recession performed by Christopher Macchio also sang at the Republican National Convention when the former president accepted his party’s nomination in 2020. Mr. Trump and his current wife, Melania, followed the body, followed by Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr.
The coffin was placed in a black hearse bearing the name of the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, the place of near rest for many members of New York’s elite. It was en route next to her ex-husband’s golf course in Bedminster, NJ, where the ground was dedicated so Mrs Trump could have a traditional Catholic funeral.
In a way, it was the former couple’s last joint real estate deal.