The Eternal Sunshine of Sam Altman

Art by Haejin Park. Photo of Altman by Getty.


It’s 10 a.m. on a radiant November morning in San Francisco, when Facetime pings with an unrecognized 917 number.

“Hello, Jon, this is DVF.”

DVF...DVF...Diane von Fürstenberg!

Mother of the wrap dress. Muse of Warhol. Shipmate of Bezos. Wife of Diller.

“Oh! Hello!”

“I understand you’d like to talk about Sam Altman?”

Yes, of course. Altman, the 36-year-old former president of Y Combinator and current CEO of OpenAI, had offered to connect me to the 74-year-old New York fashion designer and former princess. Because, according to OpenAI’s PR director, “she and Sam are friends and often talk about AI and culture.” Also because Altman knows everyone, and he’s not shy about it.

“I met Sam a few years ago and he’s one of my most recent, very, very intimate friends,” purrs DVF, her impossibly glamorous Continental accent still working it after all these years. “Meeting Sam is a little bit like meeting Ein-shtein. He is a genius, you know? He is, how can I say, he is the connector, the major connector between the future and the past. I think that he is understanding, better than anyone—I mean, better than anyone I know, for sure—where are the humans going? Where is civilization going? And, maybe, also, creating a new civilization!”