Venetian Heritage as seen by Mary Hilliard

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Venetian Heritage, one of the intrepid groups which raises money for preservation and restoration in Venice, Italy, held a gala event there for a few beautifully sunny days in early June. Their scheduled activities for the 200 or so guests coincided with the opening of the Biennale, the much discussed and often maligned, but nevertheless avidly attended, art fair which is held every two years in Venice.

This year’s participants included Muffy Miller, Vice Chairman and her husband, Donald Miller; the organization’s president, Pierre Durand, its vice presidents – Jay Krehbiel, Trevor Traina and his wife Alexis; and Tom Quick, who is treasurer. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent gamely went everywhere and did everything as did the Kopiev family from Russia, Danna and Helmut Swarovski of Austria, Prince Pierre d’Arenberg, Princes Guilliaume and Jean de Luxemboug – with his tall, lovely wife Diane, as well as ordinary mortals such as … actually, come to think of it, there weren’t any ordinary mortals!



Between the group activities and the Biennale, Venice was jumping. Since everyone walks everywhere, there were surprise meetings and “what are YOU doing here?” through all the streets of the city. Harry’s Bar seemed to be full 24 hours a day and they always managed to squeeze in another table. Insiders know the place to sit is upstairs. One night Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell and beautiful Stella Schnabel were spotted, while Harry Cipriani’s daughter, Carmela, despite hopping up every few minutes to be sure things were going well in the restaurant, had dinner with a friend.

Besides visits to see completed restoration projects, one could always go to the Giardini or the Arsenale to stand in line to see art installations many love to hate.


Helmut Swarovski, Princess and Prince Michael of Kent, Puya Hottinguer, and Helmut Swarovski at the Biennale.
Sarita Gainza.
U.S. Pavilion for Venice Biennale.
Venetian Pavilion.
Swatch wi-fi spot.


Private visits were arranged, including a view of the dazzling 14th century gilded silver alter screen on the high altar of the church of San Salvador which was restored by Venetian Heritage, with the help of Louis Vuitton.

With supporters Alfred and Judy Taubman, Alexis Gregory and Gil Shiva, Venetian Heritage has sponsored a program of research on Venetian Jewish music so the group was treated to a concert of Jewish music in the Spanish Synagogue in the Ghetto as well as visits to two other 16th century synagogues.


The Gilded-Silver Altar Screen from the Church of San Salvador restored by Venetian Heritage.
Concert in Schola Canton Synagogue.
Interior of another Synagogue.
Synogogue ceiling.
Emanuele Aliotti Visdomini (vice president of Vhernier) and Princess and Prince Michael of Kent with bronze Paliotto restored by Venetian Heritage with support from Vhernier Jewelers.
Restored bronze Paliotto from Church of San Moisè.

Additional activities kept the group hopping: an invitation from Christie’s for lunch aboard a Bateau Mouche, often rocked by waves from passing boat traffic in the Grand Canal much to the amusement of guests staggering to the buffet; a cocktail reception as guests of the jeweler VHernier, whose display of new jewelry tempted even Danna and Helmut Swarovski.


Christie’s group.
Dahlia Dana and Rima Brihi.
Jean de Luxembourg, Stephen Lash, and Prince Guillaume de Luxembourg.
Joana Schliemann’s birthday lunch.
Anne Vatter-Gosset, Pierre Yves , Barbara Mathonet, Stacee Christen, and Jean Claude Lazard.
Barbara and Pierre Yves Mathonet with Anne Vatter-Gosset.
Princess Michael of Kent and Svetlana Zakharova with friends.
Puya Hottinguer, Princess Diane de Luxembourg, Eric d”Hautbville, Jean Conrad Hottinguer, Cecilia Hottinguer, and Jean de Luxembourg.
Ben and Donna Rosen with Bill Haseltine.
L to R.: Princess Diane de Luxembourg.; Bianca Arrivabene.
Rima Brihi, Dahlia Dana, Roberto, and Renata Ruhman.
Maria Kopiev, Vsevolod Kopiev, Svetlana Zakharova, and Evgeniya Salyanykh.
L to R.: Pierre d’Arenberg and Elise Overland. ;Siblings Lucas and Isabelle Bscher.
Fiona Winter Swarovski and Toto Bergamo Rossi.
Kartika Soekarno with the Guerrand-Hermes brothers.
Florence Reckinger-Taddei, Bill Haseltine, Beatrice Beaury-Busquere, and Catherine Ehrke-Taddei.
Pierre Durand and friends.
L to R.: Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani.;Fiona Winter Swarovski.;Gugliermo Marengo and Marina Cestelli, PR director for Vhernier.
Olivier Chertier, Bettina Henry, and Tom Quick.
L to R.: Holger Kaus and Bruno Alberti.; Celina von Luttiz and Karl Graf.
Helmut and Danna Swarovski shop for VHernier rings.
Group on steps at Fenice theatre after concert.

Vhernier also underwrote the ultimate event – a black tie dinner dance at the Ca Vendramin Calergi, a grand palazzo which houses the Casino of Venice. Especially pleasant was the large garden where pre-dinner cocktails were served and where after dinner guests lingered long and late on a beautiful Venetian night.


L to R.: Trevor and Alexis Traina; Princess Firyal of Jordan.
Jean de Luxembourg, Pierre d’Arenberg, and Guillaume de Luxembourg.
L to R.: Tom Quick.; Steve and Christine Schwarzman.
Guillaume de Luxembourg, Cecilia and Jean Conrad Hottinguer, and Alessandro Berlingieri.
Tom Quick, Donald and Muffy Miller, Jay Krehbiel, and Pierre Durand.

Photographs by Mary Hilliard.

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