Society / Featured Parties

Becca Cason Thrash’s Glittering Fundraiser Raises $1.4 Million for Notre-Dame Cathedral

A Mexico City Dream Finishes in the Nick of Time

BY // 06.09.20

When the card went out to save the date for Becca Cason Thrash’s fundraiser for Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral following the devastating fire in April of 2019, charitable patrons and socials around the world took notice. Mexico City was the destination, and ticket sales flowed in.

For three days in late February and early March of 2020 (pre coronavirus shutdowns), 112 guests lunched, dined and cocktailed at the magnificent art-filled homes of collectors Tato and Gaby Garza and Eugenio López Alonzo, owner of Museo Jumex. Night number one was dinner at the French Embassy hosted by French Ambassador to Mexico Anne Grillo.

759 LSS_0032.jpg Dinner at the French Embassy in Mexico City
The French Embassy in Mexico City, where a welcome dinner was held for the patrons of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The Grande Nuit was held in Casino Español, a 19th-century building in the Centro Histórico, which is a confection of exquisite plasterwork and a Tiffany ceiling. The auction of art and priceless trips — always a highlight at a Thrash affair — where Becca served as auctioneer, raised more than $700,000 in 10 minutes and included UK-based artist Chris Levine’s limited-edition gold-dusted portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which hammered for $200,000. There were works by James Verbicky, Denise De La Rue, Jason Martin, and Héctor Bitar; trips to Paris, Venice, Nantucket, and a voyage down the Nile on Christian Louboutin’s sailboat; as well as Buccellati and Seaman Schepps jewels from Houston’s Tenenbaum Jewelers.

At the close of three days, $1.4 million was raised to aid in the restoration of Notre-Dame, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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, and the treasures, especially reliquaries from the ages. 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, had been saved. But the preservation challenges facing Notre-Dame are expensive and daunting.

735 FSTND-166.jpeg Lance Scott, Tony Bradfield
Lance Scott, Tony Bradfield

Thrash was tapped by Patrons for Notre-Dame de Paris to lead this cause due to 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 Venetian Heritage. Four editions of Liaisons au Louvre have raised nearly $20 million 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.

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“It’s still unclear how much it will cost to restore and rebuild the extensive damage at Notre-Dame, but estimates are staggering,” Thrash says.

The work to restore Notre-Dame began on Monday, with workers being lowered in the cathedral on ropes to start the exacting job of removing 200 tons of metal.

Mexico City Calling

For the Notre-Dame benefit — three days of art, culture, and glamorous events in Mexico City — there were visits to Casa Azul, home of Frida Kahlo; Museo Anahuacalli and the Museo Soumaya Collection of Carlos Slim; the home of Pedro Friedeberg; and stables of Luis Barragán and Richard Long installation; as well as private tours of the Olga & Rufino Tamayo Foundation; Museo Jumex, by owner and collector Eugenio López Alonzo; and the Daniel Liebson Collection.

As the three glorious days drew to a close, we began hearing murmurs of COVID-19. Many who had planned to extend their trip hurried home instead. As we entered the new reality, we realized just how lucky the timing had been, and the fortuitous good fortune that Notre-Dame will indeed have more euros in its coffers for the much-needed restoration work.

Raising Pesos for France

738 IVAN7227 Duran Duran’s John Taylor & Gela Taylor
Duran Duran’s John Taylor & Gela Taylor

Duran Duran‘s John Taylor from London with wife Gela Nash Taylor; Christopher Forbes, who flew in from NY; collectors Eva Dichand, in from Vienna, and Tracey Amon from Paris; designer Lance Scott with Elin Nierenbergh from NYC; Lucas Somoza from Paris; Kathleen von Alvensleben from Berlin; Joe Blount from Palm Beach and Amin Jaffer from Paris; along with 60 guests from Houston: Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Reggie and Leigh Smith, Leslie and Russ Robinson, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Ann and Mathew Wolf, Sara Dodd and Will Denton, Carol Goodman with John WessellHenry Richardson and Monsour Taghdisi, Lynn Mathre with Stewart O’Dell, Laura and Evan Greenberg, Glen Gonzalez, Richard Flowers and Angel Rios, Greg Fourticq and John Cone, Greggory Burk, Randy Powers and Bill Caudell, Meg Goodman, Elizabeth and Will Galtney, Ceron and Todd Fiscus, Renee Cary, Andrew Echols, Judith Oudt, Karen Pulaski, Marnie Greenwood, Marc and Duyen Nguyen, June Chandler, Ann and Karl Stern, Valerie Fuller with Andre Aboolian, Ford Hubbard, Mark Sullivan, and Tenenbaum’s Tony Bradfield; and Dallas contingent, including art collectors Christen and Derek Wilson, Sarah Colodney Davey and Oliver Davey, and Lisa Arpey.

Photography Iván de la Luz, Alejandro Celez.

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