The Rake

WILD LIFE

Handsome as a matinee idol from boyhood through old age, Peter Beard looked like a Ralph Lauren model. And lending substance to style, a narrative to the aesthetic, he lived like a Ralph Lauren muse. Beard’s family background and exotic, peripatetic existence were just the sort you’d expect Lauren to imagine for the characters depicted in his advertisements. His biography reads like something penned by Fitzgerald or Hemingway — so fantastic, you’d almost think it fiction.

Beard grew up surrounded by great wealth, his forebears including members of the railroad-building Hill family and tobacco moguls the Lorillards, the first Americans to be described in the press as millionaires. Founders of the oldest tobacco company in the United States, dating back to 1760, the Lorillards were not only responsible for the famous Newport and Kent brands of cigarette (and, cough-cough, various resulting ailments) but also the tuxedo.

In the 1880s, the Lorillard family and their friends the Astors had created a community for fellow hyper-privileged individuals — exclusively of the Episcopalian faith, mind you — in Tuxedo Park,

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