An Angel, A Prince, and The Philanthropists

Giving is a good thing.  Last week, I had the privilege of attending two marquis fundraising events in NYC.  Both were held at Cipriani; one on Wall Street and the other in Midtown on 42nd Street.

First up was the Angel Ball for Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research founded by Denise Rich and her daughters and son-in-law in memory of Rich’s daughter, Gabrielle who passed away at the young age of 27.  The event this past year honored three individuals for their commitment and dedication to the fight against cancer, Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Thomas Quick and his sister, Tricia Quick.

President Obama was in town so I had to hop the subway down to Wall Street since a presidential visit always creates gridlock.  I immediately sensed a new aura in the Big Apple.  People were friendly, even on the subway and the streets of Manhattan perhaps, due to the difficult times at hand.  In all of the years I lived in NYC, I never engaged in conversation on the subway, but a man chatted me up and coincidentally was from Monaco.

I arrived to the Red Carpet at Cipriani, but slipped in the side door.  I had a job at hand to make sure the special rose wine from Chateau d’Esclans from Cote d’Provence had arrived, been chilled and was ready to be served.  All was well, so I had time to educate the bar staff on the wonders of this wonderful rose.  Next I checked on the silent auction item donated from this chateau for a weekend at the vineyard.  Good again, so now I was ready for a glass myself.

The event venue at Cipriani Wall Street is spectacular.  It has had many lives before, from being a Stock Exchange to a bank and now a party place.  It pays homage to Greek revival architecture with monolith columns and a 70 foot ceiling with a Wedgewood dome.  The service is impeccable and the cuisine superb.  I must say, I was extraordinarily impressed.  And the décor for the Angel Ball was also awesome.  The gigantic rose and orchid floral centerpieces along with the theatrical lighting with angel projections made a striking first impression.

The Angel Ball was a sold-out affair with about 1000 of the most prominent movers & shakers in NYC and A-List entertainers all there to support Denise Rich.  She really knows how to pack a room with power and substance.  The crowd delivered the goods as the event raised nearly $4 million that night. I never experienced such a lively live auction ever with guests battling it out for the items offered.  Remember, the 2009 event was held in troubled times, but you never would have known it in this room.

Jennifer Hudson then wowed the VIPS with a live performance.  Seen among the scene were the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Clive Davis, Debora Norville, Ivana Trump, Russell Simmons, Alan Cummings, Howard Stern, Natalie Cole, Star Jones and many many more who collectively created a festive cast of characters.  I was the guest of Thomas Kramer who got sidetracked in Brazil so I joined his German entourage solo.

After the ball, many went to the After Party, but at the strike of midnight I became Cinderella and headed home.  I had to get my beauty sleep for the Prince the next night!

The following eve, I only had to commute to Midtown to Cipriani 42nd Street for the Princess Grace Awards Gala where 22 Princess Grace Awards, 10 Honoraria, 7 Special Project Grants and 2 Works of Progress Residencies and 2 Statue Awards were given. The Princess Grace Foundation-USA was founded 25 years ago by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in honor of his wife, Princess Grace (Kelly). Their mission is to support emerging artists in theater, dance, and film through awarding scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships.  Since its inception it has given out more than 650 awards.

Chairing the event were Tommy & Dee Hilfiger.  Upon entering Cipriani, I was once again transformed into an amazing space with grandiose style.  The atmosphere at this gala was a bit more formal.  There was the pomp and circumstance of having HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in the room among other dignitaries and old world society.  Mandy Patinkin was awarded the coveted Prince Rainier III Award for his outstanding contribution to the arts.

Celebrated contemporary artist, Alex Soldier known for his mastery in fine jewelry and precious miniatures, was chosen to create the stunning 2009 Prince Rainier II Award.  Soldier also designed an ‘objet d’art’ for the Princess Grace Awards.  His executive team was on hand to showcase the pieces.

Entertainment for the evening included a performance of diverse dance styles by past Princess Grace Award winners.

I was hoping the slipper would fit my foot, but alas the Prince had brought his own date.  My friend did manage to get in a dance with his highness.

My final day in NYC, I strolled around Central Park and played tourist for a change.  I was a resident for many years, but now it was nice to be a visitor.  I could gaze up at the skyscrapers and enjoy the city scenery stress-free.

HOPE GAINER, President of Hope International, is a global imagemaker, marketer and branding expert with 30 years of lifestyle experience with a focus today on the luxury market.  She produces unique, upscale events around the world.  Gainer is a founding member of the Florida Luxury Council and a contributor to several luxury magazines including Elite Traveler, Haute Living and Social Affairs.  She also represents spectacular ‘trophy’ real estate properties worldwide as well as Miami where she is based.

Click here for more exclusive photos from the events.