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Culture / Newsy

Becca Cason Thrash Tapped to Raise Funds for Notre Dame, the World’s Most Celebrated Monument — a PaperCity Exclusive

Devastating Fire Brings a Call to Action

BY // 07.25.19

Paris calling: News has reached us that one of Texas’ most iconic philanthropists and hostesses has been approached by an endangered UNESCO World Heritage monument to come to its aid after a devastating fire. That would be Notre-Dame de Paris — arguably the most famous cathedral in the world — and Becca Cason Thrash, Houston’s best-known fundraiser, who raises millions for the Louvre and Venetian Heritage.

The building of Notre Dame began in 1163, and the holy site has been an emblem of faith through the centuries, renowned for its medieval beauty, towering Gothic architecture, mystical rose windows, cinematic gargoyles, and all the treasures, especially reliquaries from the ages, that it contains. When a fire erupted on April 15, 2019, the world held its breath. The cathedral, which is a symbol of Paris as well as a pilgrimage site, has been saved. But the preservation challenges facing Notre Dame are expensive and daunting.

Although Thrash hails from South Texas and calls Houston home, she was tapped to be an emissary for this cause because she has serious French ties. She was knighted by the French government with the Légion d’Honneur and is a legend in international society for the ultra-glamorous, wildly imaginative fundraisers she’s organized for the Louvre (and, recently, Venetian Heritage). Liaisons au Louvre is a three-day affair that she first organized in 2008 — an event enshrined in 21st-century social history for its heady mix of rock stars, titled royals, and the European, New York, L.A., and Texas beau monde. Four editions to date have raised nearly $20 million for the Louvre, while incorporating such unforgettable experiences as a seated dinner at the museum’s medieval moat and cocktail hours in the presence of Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa.

A Fateful Call

Via phone and email, Thrash (who is in Europe for the summer) shared the details of the upcoming fête for Notre Dame and how it came to be.

“Well before the tragic fire that nearly destroyed Notre Dame, the medieval cathedral was in the throes of much needed renovations,” she says. “I received a call: ‘Can you please help us?’ Sadly I had to decline. My home had been massively damaged when Hurricane Harvey brought three feet of water into the main floor. After the flood, I took a gap year, so to speak, to focus on the renovations and restoration of the home I share with my husband, John.”

Scenes from the April 15, 2019 blaze that decimated Notre-Dame. Now a Texan, Becca Cason Thrash, will chair a three-day fund-raiser in Mexico City to benefit the restoration of the iconic world monument.
Scenes from the April 15, 2019 blaze that decimated Notre Dame. Now a Texan, Becca Cason Thrash, will chair a three-day fund-raiser in Mexico City to benefit the restoration of the iconic world monument.

After the April fire nearly brought Notre Dame down, the cathedral reached out again.

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“This time, I knew I had to help,” Thrash says. “It’s still unclear how much it will cost to restore and rebuild the extensive damage, but some estimates are staggering. Well beyond $750 million, not to mention the money needed to preserve and maintain the artwork. I hope we do well, but with fundraising, there are no guarantees.”

Does anyone not think Thrash will make this experience an over-the-top success, however. After all, this is the fundraiser who needs no introduction. Who has not been to Maison Thrash for an evening whose beneficiaries range from Best Buddies (with Anthony Shriver and Tom Brady in the house) to Houston Ballet (set to stunning Van Cleef & Arpels jewels)?

Details Revealed: Mexico City Calling

Thrash says of her vision for a grand Notre Dame benefit, “I like to organize experiences, versus one gala night. So I envision three days of art, culture, glamorous and unique events — in Mexico City. I think this is an appealing package. At the end of February 2020, I’m organizing a three-day, art-filled fundraising trip to Mexico City. Guests will consist mostly of Americans, with some Europeans.”

The itinerary promises to be heavy on art, with a blockbuster private collection as a special draw.

“Days will include visits to the homes of iconic Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera,” Thrash says. “There will be a private tour of the Olga & Rufino Tamayo Foundation. A dinner is being hosted by Museo Jumex owner and collector Eugenio López Alonso in his exquisite home. La Grande Nuit is a glamorous black-tie affair atop the city’s most notable landmark, Chapultepec Castle. And there will be an auction of four important works of art during this gala night.”

Why Mexico City?

“I selected Mexico City because so many people have really never experienced its wonders,” Thrash says. “It’s an extraordinary place filled with rich history, art, and culture, and I’m thrilled to show it to those that attend next year. It’s going to be amazing.”

Calendar these dates: Thursday, February 27, through Sunday, March 1, 2020. Tickets $6,000 per person, benefiting the nonprofit Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, toward the restoration of the UNESCO World Heritage Site cathedral.

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