Monday, May 16, 2016

Tours of culture and history

Dinner in the Salon d'Hercule at Versailles as part of a week-long fundraising event that was held by The American Friends of Versailles in 2004. Photo: JH.
Monday, May 16, 2016. A beautiful weekend in New York – warm and sunny on Saturday in the mid-70s with some early evening rain; followed by a bright and sunny, but breezy and chillier Sunday, again with a spritz in the early evening and temperatures dropping into the low 40s.

The New York social calendar is going full gale force right now, and up to the first week in June.

Reminder. The annual Conservatory Ball at the New York Botanical Garden will be held on Thursday, June 2nd in honor of The New York Botanical Garden's 125th Anniversary of its founding in 1891.
The highlight of a glorious, year-long celebration will feature the Garden's upcoming exhibition, Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas. Guests are invited to experience the horticultural inspiration behind American Impressionism through a stunning interpretation of the gardens that influenced iconic artists such as Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
The Haupt Conservancy , where hollyhocks, poppies, and foxglove evoke the colorful gardens that inpired the American Impressionists.
This is kind of the official end of the New York social season in traditional terms (actually it never ends in the city that never sleeps). And the ball itself a beautiful affair, black tie, the women in long dresses and gowns with a great dinner in a tent with a huge dance floor and great life music.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Conservatory Ball, please contact Anita Hall at 914.579.1000 or
One of the more spectacular events of the season and this week is The American Friends of Versailles Cercle du Roi Events which begin their five-day guest junket in New York this Wednesday, May 18th. The AFV put together some of the most amazing historical and cultural junkets, especially in France and particularly at the palace of Versailles. JH and I have had the privilege of attending two of them – reports which can be found on these pages. They are memorable for their tours of culture and history.
The Trois Fontaines Bosquet before its restoration.
The restored Trois Fontaines Bosquet at the unveiling in 2004, which NYSD attended.
This New York week itinerary begins with a Reception and Tour from 10:30 a.m. till noon, of the exquisite, private art collection of Aso O. Tavitian led by fine art conservator, David Bull at the superb Peter Pennoyer designed and refurbished Tavitian mansion located on the Upper East Side, from 10:30 a.m. till noon.

Giovanni Battista Moroni, Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1564. Aso O. Tavitian Collection.
Mr. Tavitian, who has a deep interest in international affairs, the performing arts, and educational philanthropy, currently serves on several not-for-profit Boards, including The Carnegie Endowment, The Frick, and The Austen Riggs Center. An art collector, he favors Old Master paintings, sculpture from the Renaissance period through the late eighteenth-century and English furniture from the eighteenth-century.

This is followed by a luncheon at the River Club generously hosted by the Honorable and Mrs. Henry A. Kissinger from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Then early that evening from: 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., The Honorable Bertrand Lortholary, Consul General of France is hosting a cocktail reception for the American Friends at the Consulate at 934 Fifth Avenue.

The Consulate is the work of architects Alexander Walter and Leon Gillette, who conceived this five story residence in 1926 for Charles E. Mitchell, President of the National City Bank (now Citibank). This beautiful and significant building has been the residence of the French Consulate for over fifty years.
Consulate General of France at 934 Fifth Avenue.
That same evening, Elizabeth Segerstrom, AFV Board Member, is hosting a buffet cocktail dinatoire at her  residence (across from the Frick) that she shared with her late husband, Henry T. Segerstrom. Henry was a visionary entrepreneur, philanthropist, patron of the arts, who reshaped his family's Southern California agricultural business in post-war America into an economic, cultural phenomenon. Segerstrom's South Coast Plaza transformed the fields of Orange County into one of the most celebrated, profitable luxury retail markets in the world, hosting 22 million visitors annually.

Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom on our second trip to Versailles in 2007
Francine LeFrak Friedberg and Rick Friedberg.
Born in Poland, Elizabeth Segerstrom studied at Warsaw University, the University of Geneva, and NYU, where she received a PhD in psychology as a Rockefeller fellow. A clinical psychologist, she established the first mental health clinic in NYC to serve the needs of Eastern European populations in their native language. She currently serves as Co-Managing Partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons continuing to make Newport Beach her primary residence.

Then on Thursday, May 19th: at 11:30 a.m., Francine LeFrak Friedberg and Rick Friedberg, members of AFV's Board, will receive guests in their Park Avenue residence to view their extraordinary art collection with a curated visit and a light luncheon.

Francine, the daughter of the late Ethel and Samuel LeFrak, the prominent New York real estate magnate, has been a Broadway, television, and film producer and has received Emmy, Tony and Peabody awards. She has currently immersed herself into the initiation of the creation of Same Sky which creates beautiful and affordable jewelry to help Rwandan women who survived the genocide of 1994. The collection is produced in Rwanda and has been featured in Vogue, Bazaar and Town & Country. "...Instead of a hand-out, we offer a hand-up and a chance to rebuild their lives."

Then on Thursday night from 7:00 p.m. to midnight — The Grand Dinner will take place in the world famous Metropolitan Club. Thanks to Richard and Karen LeFrak. Black tie.

Formed in 1891 by J. Pierpont Morgan, who served as its first president, other original members of the club included William K. Vanderbilt and James A. Roosevelt. The 1894 Clubhouse, designed by Stanford White, stands at 11 East 60th Street, on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue. The land was acquired from the 2nd wife of 8th Duke of Marlborough, Lillian Hammersley, who signed the purchase agreement in the United States Consulate in London. Cornelius Vanderbilt II signed for the club on this side of the pond.
This room is the last room of the Queen's Grands Appartements whose paintings and architectural features have not yet been fully restored.
Noël Coypel, Jupiter Accompanied by Justice, Piety and Spirits Symbolising the Planet and its Four Satellites
On Friday, May 20, from 12:30 to 2, guests will have the pleasure of a luncheon hosted by Kenneth Jay Lane his his fabulous duplex apartment, in a Stanford White mansion completed in 1892 and home to KJL since 1977.

Kenny as he is known to his legions of friends, started designing jewelry and launched his business in 1963 while creating bejeweled footwear for Dior and Arnold Scaasi. He first came to public attention after Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, bought several pieces and recommended him to her friends. Jacqueline Kennedy was among those who commissioned faux bijoux from Lane in order to enable her to wear them more freely while keeping the valuable originals in a safe.
Kenny Lane at home.
Then from 6 to 8 that evening – AFV will host Un Grand Reception at a private club, with Catherine Pégard, Présidente de Château de Versailles, and Baron de l'Espée (Roland), Président de Société des Amis de Versailles, and Le Vicomte de Rohan (Olivier), Honorary Chairman of the American Friends of Versailles. Olivier, along with Catharine Hamilton, founded the American Friends of Versailles. He will share his passion for history, preservation and the arts, in a Presentation on Americans at Versailles.

Olivier's exceptional leadership skills have proven him a valued steward in countless of France's most prominent organizations. The former Président de la Société des Amis de Versailles, and Président de la Sauvegarde de L'Art Français (the French Art Preservation Society), he has been an Honorary Member of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of Versailles since its inception.

Olivier was born in Brittany, into one of France's most renowned feudal families, including many Cardinals and Field Marshals. Le Vicomte is frequently published in articles for Revue des Deux Mondes, the Journal des Arts and Le Figaro.
Catharine Hamilton and Le Vicomte de Rohan applauding la Garde Republicaine at a concert and black tie dinner at Versalles in 2004.
After the reception, from 8:30 to 10 p.m., Mr. and Mrs. William Maroney will host a light dinner in their fabulous residence located on Central Park South with dazzlingly, spectacular views of Central Park and Manhattan. The Maroneys serve amongst the esteemed International Council Chairmen on the Board of the American Friends of Versailles. Aimée and William have been longtime supporters of AFV. Internationally acclaimed pianist, Princesse Caroline Murat will perform a brief recital.
Aimée and William Maroney.
On Saturday, May 21st, Guests will be bused up to Kykuit, the famous Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills for a luncheon held in the estate Playhouse and hosted by Kimberly and Steven Rockefeller, both Vice Presidents of AFV and benefit chairmen.

Steven will speak about the history of his family's estate and massive patronage that his great-grandfather John D. Rockefeller Jr. began at Versailles and other French monuments that right after the First World War. The luncheon will take place in the indoor pool pavilion of the Playhouse, the family recreation center that showcases spectacular pieces from John D., Jr.'s Gothic collection.
The indoor pool pavilion of the Playhouse at Kykuit, where lunch will be served.
Returning to the City, guests will attend a dinatoire at the residence of Mrs. John Gutfreund, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Susan Gutfreund is an indefatigable, gracious, and longtime supporter of the American Friends of Versailles. Her remarkable duplex is one of the greatest apartments in New York.

Beyond her glamour and intelligence, Susan is a very accomplished interior designer, international philanthropist, and Francophile. Susan collaborated with renowned French interior designer Henri Samuel to create her magnificent New York home.
Susan in her Henri Samuel-designed Winter Garden room.
And finally – on Sunday, May 22nd from 1:00 to 3 p.m., AFV’s Board of Directors, and the host and hostesses of the week’s events are invited to a Farewell Fête at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Hedberg (Margaret), International Council Vice Chairmen of longstanding, where they will receive Cercle guests for a pizza, pasta Farewell Buffet in their eclectic, “over the top”, and ever so delightful town house.

The American Friends of Versailles week is a fund-raiser. The donor tickets for the five-day visit are the following:

Extraordinary Donor's Recognition. For a gift of $300,000 and above, per individual or couple, with one's name or corporation's name listed on the principal Benefactors' Plaque within the Château, and you will be afforded 2 tickets to the Cercle le Roi-Soleil events.

Cercle du Roi. Includes contributions of $25,000 per guest and above. (13 events with this symbol) Cercle de la Reine includes contributions of $10,000 per guest. (9 events with this symbol) Cercle du Dauphin includes contributions of $5,000 per guest. (4 events with this symbol).

Cercle des Cygnes. Includes contributions of $3,500 per guest. Afforded only to children and grandchildren, ages 30 and under, of participants. Limited to 35 guests. The founding Juniors of the 1999 and 2001 Balls at Versailles will be included in this category. (3 events with this symbol).

Ball Only, for New York Residents. $1,500 per guest. Afforded only to New York residents. Limited to 50 guests. (1 event with this symbol).
It is important to note Le Grand Gala de Versailles and surrounding events are limited to 275 guests. All subscriptions will be processed in the order in which they are received (AFV will not hold reservations without full financial contribution.)

All those who have generously donated $6,000 or more to this project will be listed in the permanent archives of Versailles. In addition, the incredible events and rare privileges afforded us, are exceptional gestures of friendship and are mostly underwritten by our friends in honor of Americans who love France and who have taken a special interest in one of the most treasured museums, the Château de Versailles.

Contact DPC here.