NEW YORK, JUNE 12 -- Georgette Mosbacher, the wife of Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, was robbed by a gunman outside her upper East Side hotel room tonight.
But the quick-thinking socialite and cosmetics company executive refused his demand that she open her door and go in with him.
Instead, she handed over her jewelry and her large bag.
Just then, as the gunman's hands were full, an elevator door opened. Mosbacher dived in and, screaming and pushing the emergency buzzer all the way, rode down to the lobby and alerted the staff of the Barbizon Hotel.
The gunman got away.
"It was hell," the 43-year-old Mosbacher told the Daily News, breaking into tears. "I'm lucky to be talking to you. It's amazing, at the moment when it was happening, how calm I was. I remember when I was bitten by a snake in Texas, and I went absolutely berserk. This time I didn't."
Mosbacher said the gunman poked "an Uzi" submachine gun at her and whispered, "Open your door."
"I said, 'The door won't open, the key won't work.' He opened the door, and I told him, 'I'm not going in there. I'm not going to shout.'
"I took off my earrings and said, 'There's a bench over there and I'm going to sit.' I said to myself, 'I'm not going to live,' but I thought I'd have a better chance in the hallway," Mosbacher recalled.
After handing the gunman her earrings and watch, she said, she handed him her large bag, and while his hands were full, the elevator door opened.
"I jumped in. I was screaming and yelling and leaning on the buzzer. When I got to the lobby, I ran to the desk. I was hoping they could lock off the stairs and catch him," she said.
One of the first things Mosbacher did after that was "order a stiff drink" and call her husband in Washington. "He was more concerned if I'm all right," she said.
She said her stolen valuables weren't as important to her as the bag's contents. "My most important papers were in there -- my agenda, my phone book, my passport."
Police said the gunman, a well-dressed man in his mid-twenties who wore a white jacket and had stereo headphones around his neck, got away with about $40,000 worth of jewelry and $400 cash.
Mosbacher was staying at the hotel while the couple's upper Fifth Avenue co-op apartment is being renovated.
Mosbacher had just returned from her office at La Prairie cosmetics at about 6 p.m. when the incident occurred.