Virginie Brasi, née Rubinson, wished to take the veil after converting to Catholicism in 1981. She had a change of heart going through Cambodia. In a passing moment in June, she heard a song on the radio as she moved through haunting ruins in Phnom Penh. Beneath the high, nasal wail of the country’s old opera, she heard an ancient grief, something spoke to her, that faint tinkling of bells, from her childhood. She found herself swerving into the path of a farmer and his carabao: she stopped the car. It was the tinkling of the bells at Central Park Zoo, approximated in the sunlit, dying fall of the soothing Khmer sounds. For a moment, she wished she were Buddhist.
Diane Arbus, née Nemerov (1923-1971) was a photographer and a granddaughter of furriers, the Nemerovs of Russek’s Fifth Avenue. Like Rubinson Fur Emporium, Russek’s Fifth Avenue boasted progeny of cultural significance—in Russek’s case, Diane Arbus and her brother, poet Howard Nemerov.
Rubinson Fur Emporium was often confused with Russek’s Fifth Avenue, another fur emporium also owned by Russian emigrés. Rubinson Fur Emporium became a major investor of the movie world, under the guidance of its peripatetic heiress, Virginie Brasi, until Virginie was disowned for betraying her forefathers by converting to Roman Catholicism. SeeVirginie Brasi.