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The American Friends of Versailles
Visit New York
October 27 - 28, 2011

Written by Wendy R. Williams

Photographed by:
Fernando Cuestas

Gift for Host Julian Robertson

David Hamilton and Catharine Hamilton

The American Friends of Versailles is an elegant group dedicated to the pursuit of beauty. The group was founded in 1998 when Texas-born, Chicago resident philanthropist Catharine Hamilton visited Versailles, a place she had loved since her first visit at the age of seventeen. While visiting, Mrs. Hamilton and her husband David were asked if there was anything they could do to help restore the gardens which had fallen from their past grandeur. The Hamilton's decided that restoring such beauty would be a worthwhile project and one they would be willing to undertake. Thus was formed The American Friends of Versailles, a sister organization to the French Les Amis de Versailles. Since the original founding, the group has flourished. Many other like minded philanthropists have joined in the effort to restore the beauty of Versailles for the enjoyment of the world. The project has since become a family event with many of the Friends inviting their grown children to help with the restoration.

Since they were founded in 1998, The Friends have raised money for the restoration of two parts of Versailles -the Trois Fontaines Bosquet and the Pavillon Frais. These projects have been lovingly undertaken with minute attention paid to the original plans for the garden, such as just how did the trees shade the original structures, creating patterns of light and shadow.

Julian Robertson, Catharine Hamilton and Francis Lagatta Shelton

Twice yearly, the Friends meet for a board meeting and a series of parties. This October the Friends were hosted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 by Mr. Julian Robertson at his lovely home overlooking Central Park. On Friday, October 28, 2011, there were two events - a luncheon at the historic 21 Club and
cocktail party at the home of famed decorator Juan Pablo and his wife Pilar Molynuex.

Every few years, The Friends host a multi day gala in France. The next grand events are a ‘Voyage Spectaculaire,’ a one-of-a-kind, benefit trip to the French Riviera on September 20–27, 2012 and the stellar "Le Grand Bal de Versailles" at the Palace on Saturday, June 15, 2013! Anyone interested in helping in the restoration of Versailles (and in meeting some very charming people) should contact The American Friends of Versailles via their website "contact us" page.

Please scroll down for "party pics" and for more information about The Friends from the press release by Jonathan Marder + Associates.

Matthew Bromley and Britany Bromley

Pilar Molyneux, Sharon Hoge, Kimberly Rockefeller,
Natalie Sann and Nathalie de Bedoyere

Elise Knutsen, Princesse Kristina Kovolenko and Cassandra Longoria

Princess Kristina Kovolenko, Cassandra Longoria and Ricardo Longoria

Kimia Amir, Elizabeth Hamilton, Catharine Hamilton
and Marianne Cary De Edwards

Ricardo Longoria and Julian Robertson

Rebecca Dunn, Caroline Sarkozy, Catharine Hamilton,
Cassandra Longoria and Tennessee Hamilton

Anne Kraus, Paul Krauss and Evelyn Korentzen-Bell

Tennesse Hamilton and David Hamilton

Nancy Cain Marcus, Julian Robertson and Michele Fouan

Press Release from Jonathan Marder + Associates:

The American Friends of Versailles gathered cultural-minded philanthropists, art lovers and patrons from France and the United States recently in the late fall in New York City for a whirlwind of fabulous benefit events surrounding their annual board of directors meeting.

The luminous array of 'fêtes' included a wonderful champagne reception at the gorgeous and elegant home of legendary financial genius, Julian Robertson, founder of the Tiger Fund. The guests reveled in his warm hospitality and viewed Mr. Robertson’s extraordinary art collection and breathtaking view of Central Park. The guest of honor were AFV’s distinguished French Board of Directors: Baron Roland de l’Espée, Le Vicomte de Rohan, Madame Anne-Marie de Ganay, Comtesse Serge de La Bédoyère, Monsieur et Madame Jérôme Fouan, Comte Charles-Louis de Mortemart, Madame Caroline Sarkozy (sister to the French President Sarkozy), Madame Nicole Salinger, and Monsieur and Madame Didier Wirth.

Other benefit visits included a charming luncheon at the historical landmark and illustrious 21 Club, founded in 1929, along with a sublime cocktail 'dinatoire' at the exquisite and dazzling home of the world renowned interior designers, Juan Pablo and Pilar Molyneux, both AFV board members (a seven story townhouse with a rooftop swimming pool). The guests of honor were Mr. Julian Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Steven Rockefeller and Madame Caroline Sarkozy. Also included was a lunch at Cafe Boulud owned by the ultimate chef Daniel Boulud, and a farewell reception dinner at the enchanting and ultimately charming home of AFV’s International Council members, Margaret and Gregory Hedberg (extraordinary fine art aficionado)- the Hedbergs have assembled a fantastic, eclectic and phenomenal art collection.

The goals of the American Friends of Versailles are to heighten the awareness of Versailles within the United States and worldwide (an international UNESCO declared world treasure), to enhance the important French /American Friendship, and to support the restoration and preservation of Versailles for future generations. AFV’s goals have been realized in the restoration and recreation of the Trois Fontaines Bosquet and the Pavillon Frais - two magnificent and historical gardens, which will be enjoyed by millions of visitors for years to come.

In the difficult and challenging texture of our time, the American Friends of Versailles seeks not only to preserve Versailles, by supporting projects that would not be accomplished without private funding, but seriously to promote the French American Friendship, as well as International Friendship. We come together in the civic and cultural arenas exchanging a myriad of ideas and ideals. Versailles is steeped in history and has extraordinary roots in the United States. In addition to its restoration projects, the American Friends of Versailles has donated to research projects and computer systems, restoration of the trees at Versailles, photo exhibitions in the USA and international cultural seminars.

The American Friends of Versailles believes beauty feeds the soul and inspires all people. Versailles has more visitors every year than almost any other museum in the world, 1.5 million Americans visit annually. By supporting Versailles, AFV has chosen to maintain a history of civilized cultures who believe that beauty, artistry and friendship have an absolute value and place in the world. Versailles is truly an opus, a masterpiece, and its gardens are unparalleled.

Other distinguished New York hosts, who have generously received The American Friends of Versailles, in the past include: the Forbes Family, Anne Bass, Ambassador and Mrs. Felix Rohatyns, the Henry Kissingers, Susan and John Gutfreund, Kathy and Bill Rayner, Catharine and David Hamilton, Kimberly and Steven Rockefeller, Mrs. Samuel Lefrak, Francine Lefrak, and Rick Friedberg, Betsy and Larry Blau, Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom, Liz Fondaras, the Guest Family, Mrs. Duane Hampton, Margaret and Gregory Hedberg, the French Embassy, the French Consulate, the Metropolitan Museum courtesy of Jane Wrightsman, the Frick Museum courtesy of Mrs. Henry C. Frick, II (Pemmy), Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Gerschel, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Gruss, Mr. and Mrs. George McFadden, the Phipps Family, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Ross, Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Zilkha, the Central Park Conservancy, the New York Botanical Gardens.

Please mark your calendars: AFV will host ‘Voyage Spectaculaire’ a one-of-a-kind, benefit trip to the French Riviera, filled with rare privileges, from September 20 – 27, 2012! The stellar ‘Le Grand Bal de Versailles’ will be at the Palace on Saturday, June 15, 2013!




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