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Celebrity Designer Dennis Basso on His $1 Million Fur Boutique Robbery, and Why He’s Proud to Dress

Time:2016-12-31 12:33Shoes websites Click:

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Dennis Basso got the call as he and his husband, Michael Cominotto, were preparing to have 26 people over for dinner at their winter home in Aspen on Christmas Eve.

Around 5 o’clock that morning, a group of thieves had smashed and grabbed their way into the celebrity fur couturier’s flagship Madison Avenue store in New York City, and made off with around $1 million worth of merchandise.

Basso believes it is one of the largest fur-related thefts in New York’s history. The haul of around 20 items included all the store’s sables and some chinchilla coats. Some individual items were valued at $200,000.

The footage of the raid was dramatic enough, featuring the first thief hurling what seems to be a rock through the door. The 61-year-old Basso, still in Aspen (where he has a smaller store in the Little Nell Hotel), told The Daily Beast he was “personally thankful I could not see all that broken glass. I saw it on video. I was spared that part of the drama, and I knew I was in good hands. The police are working very diligently on trying to solve this case. My very capable partners were there handling it.”

Basso, who opened his first store in 1983 and who has a wonderful, gravelly voice, said, “It was such an invasion, but I’m very positive. There was nothing I could do at that point. We continued to move forward and have a very beautiful Christmas Eve dinner (which he posted pretty pictures of on Instagram). I am very thankful nobody was hurt. These were material things, and we will be able to move upward and forward.”

Basso’s celebrity client roster is huge and devoted, and has included Michelle Obama, a brace of Trump women (Ivana, Melania, and Ivanka), and celebrities including Zsa Zsa Gabor, who died Dec. 18, and Helen Mirren. He has been “barraged” with calls and emails from “the most famous to not-so-famous, all concerned and expressing sadness about what’s happened to me, which is lovely—really lovely.”

Though he said he had “a policy of not naming names,” Basso imparted that Paris and Nicky Hilton were very close friends, in Aspen too, “and very concerned about me, how I felt, and what was happening. I am a little bit removed from it which is a good thing, but totally involved in what is happening.” Chiefly, he’s asking what can be done to ensure this does not happen again.

“This is the first time something like this ever happened to me. I think it was shocking. You always think that it is something you read about or see on the news. One never thinks it’s actually going to happen to themselves, so you feel violated personally.

“This is our flagship store, it’s over 10,000 square feet. I treat it like it’s my private home. From that aspect its quite upsetting to see on video the way the thieves crash through the door. They take their own lives into their hands. I think it’s sad because that area of the Upper East Side is one of the safest areas in the world, and to think this would happen on Christmas Eve between 4 and 5 in the morning. There’s traffic on the street, people up and going to work. It just seemed very brazen.”

Basso does not know what the thieves’ motives were: The clothes with labels could not be disposed of within America, he thinks. “Maybe they’re off to some foreign land, but once the label and lining are removed, let’s say, I don’t know how valuable in that secondary stolen market they would be. You really have no idea what is going through these people’s minds.”

But the thieves knew what they were targeting.

“They were highly professional people,” Basso said. “They knew what they were doing, they knew what to take. They bypassed many beautiful furs that were probably a quarter of the value of what they took. They had clearly been there before, or knew the lay of the land. They went to most expensive coats in the store. They knew what looking for. Completely.”

Would he change anything in terms of security? “Well, I think may go back to having a gate. I had one before in Aspen, then we eliminated it.

“It would be attractive,” Basso added, lest anyone imagine an ugly grille or other aesthetically displeasing fortifications.


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Basso grew up an only child to “marvelous parents” in Morris County, New Jersey. “I was very fascinated with my mother, her sisters, and her girlfriends and their beautiful clothes. My mother was quite glamorous. She loved beautiful things. I was very attracted to that. When everyone was outside playing I only wanted to be in the house looking at the clothes.”

Around six years ago, Basso received a letter from his kindergarten teacher who recalled him as “an extremely artistic child who always wanted to create something to wear.” He has hung the letter in his office.

Basso’s father had a produce business, his mother was a stay-at-home mom. “She said having me was enough of a career,” Basso laughed. “We had a very nice life, it was quite lovely. The only other thought I had growing up was that I was interested in show business.”

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