reasons to love new york

New York’s Got a New Baroness

Illustration: Zohar Lazar; Photo: Angela Gaul, Courtesy of Quadrille Ball

At her day job as an Air Force officer, it is appropriate to address Allison Ecung as “Lieutenant Colonel.” But after she married Freiherr (or “baron”) Raban von Arnim in a lavish three-day wedding in Potsdam, Germany, last year — including a ceremony in a church formerly used by the Prussian royal family, followed by a black-tie reception at the local castle — it is also correct to call her “Baroness.”

The newlyweds made their debut as a New York philanthropic power couple in February at the 62nd annual Quadrille Ball on Park Avenue alongside the city’s German and Austrian consuls general. Among her charitable works is her service on the Young Fellows Steering Committee of the Frick.

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Joining the German aristocracy (still popularly acknowledged even though the government legally did away with it in 1919) makes her one of very few African American women to assume a European title. The couple live part of the year near the Ramstein Air Base for their jobs (he is a legal consultant for Charité hospital in Berlin), and here they stay in a hotel when she is working in midtown.

Baroness von Arnim is from the upstate city of Rome, and she later lived on the Upper West Side and in Harlem. This year, for Valentine’s Day, the baron surprised his wife with a date night combining many New York City faves.

“He took me to the Museum of Natural History to see a show at the planetarium and then he had one of those pedicab drivers take us down to Tavern on the Green to have a drink,” she says. “Then we had dinner at the old Café des Artistes” — now the Leopard at des Artistes — “and after dinner we walked over to Lincoln Center, and he had this whole bit about seeing the stars,” which was the setup to present her with tickets to see Beyoncé in Amsterdam.

In turn, she introduced him to such New York landmarks as Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in Gramercy, Patsy’s Pizzeria on West 74th, and Gray’s Papaya on West 72nd.

And how did he like Gray’s?

“It didn’t blow his mind,” she says. “Which is true of most people who try Gray’s Papaya for the first time. He was like, ‘I don’t know how I feel about this.’”

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New York’s Got a New Baroness