Late decorator to the stars remembered as expert prankster

Late decorator to the stars remembered as expert prankster

January 23, 2019

Late interior decorator Mario Buatta — known fondly as the “Prince of Chintz,” whose clients included Mariah Carey, Barbara Walters and Malcolm Forbes — was remembered at the Park Avenue Armory by about 300 family members and friends.

A source said that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recalled of Buatta — who died Oct. 15 just five days shy of turning 83 and was as expert at playing pranks as he was at decorating — that he once introduced Buatta to an acquaintance as the Prince of Chintz.

“My friend responded, ‘I don’t know that country. Where is it?’ ” Buatta told the pal, “It’s in the English Channel.”

When the person asked, “How did you become the prince?”

Buatta explained without missing a beat, “I was too young to become the king.”

Fun-loving Buatta was known for often carrying a fake cockroach (called Harold) to fancy dinner parties and discreetly unleashing the pest on someone’s plate or spoon, pretending not to notice it. He’d then make a big act of squashing it in front of horrified guests.

Ross recalled that Buatta once gave the mogul’s daughter a birthday gift in a large Tiffany bag only to drop it with a dramatic crash of shattering glass.

The bag was filled with broken glass all along, and the real present arrived the next day.

Also speaking at the Winter Show memorial were Hilary Geary Ross, Carleton Varney and Anne Eisenhower.

Guests included Patricia Hearst Shaw.

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