A Parisian odyssey
Paris, get ready to rock: Becca Cason Thrash revs up for Liaisons au Louvre II
Two years ago, Becca Cason Thrash created a mini tsunami in Paris social circles with her outrageous idea of holding a black-tie fundraiser in the hallowed halls of the Louvre with entertainment provided by rockers Duran Duran. It was a bit of Texas bravado clashing with Old World sensibilities. She prevailed, though by the hardest, and raised $2.7 million for one of the world's most prominent museums during a splendiferous evening that guests are still talking about.
Next week, she directs act two of this fundraising phenomenon with Liaisons au Louvre II. "It's easier for me with the Louvre now because I've proven myself," she said.
La Becca happily reports that she already has $2 million in hand and expects to glide to a total of $3 million after the silent and live auctions that are filled with enough jewels, trips and art to satisfy the most demanding sybarite. Sure to be tempted by the dazzling cache of goodies is a coterie of European and international notables, as well as close to 40 Houstonians. Each has already ponied up a generous donation of $10,000 to the Louvre for entree to the festivities.
Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancé Charlene Wittstock will be there, just weeks before their royal wedding. Designers Roberta Armani and Naeem Khan have RSVP'd to the positive as has jewelry designer David Yurman. And then there are the billionaires — Nancy and Steven Crown of Chicago, Christy and Jim Clark of New York and Palm Beach, Prince Amyn Aga Khan and French luxury goods titanFrancois Pinaultand his wife, Maryvonne. (Maryvonne presented Becca with the coveted French Legion of Honor in April.)
The grand gala evening at the Louvre, starring Janet Jackson, takes place on Tuesday but two days of activities proceed that stellar evening, all of which is happening under auspices of the American and International Friends of the Louvre, of which Becca is a board member.
The ultimate dance card
The partying begins on Sunday evening with dinner at the Hotel de Pontalba, official residence of U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin and his wife, Susan Tolson. (The residence was the site of Becca's investiture as Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor.)
Monday afternoon, guests will board motorcoaches to the Chateau du Champ de Bataille for a stroll through the vast formal gardens followed by a candlelight dinner in the historic mews. The chateau and its grounds were purchased by interior designer Jacques Garcia in the early '90s at which time he began an major renovation.
On Tuesday morning, the international coterie will be welcomed to the Louvre (closed to the public on Tuesdays) by president-director Henri Loyrette for a private viewing of the The Ceiling by Cy Twombly. The 3,750 square-foot ceiling painting, unveiled in April of last year, will resonate with Houstonians familiar with The Menil Collection's impressive Cy Twombly Gallery.
Tuesday evening, the doors open on the black-tie gala which begins in the lavish apartments of Napoleon III. Actually, the champagne flows — not in the elaborately decorated salons — but on the balcony, the doors of which have not been opened, according to Becca, in 100 years. To achieve this coup, the chairwoman from Houston had to run a challenging gauntlet of curators, security experts and insurance technocrats. "I succeeded at everything but it's just not easy," she said.
Guests will make their way to the Cour Marly , where seating will take place amid the collection of sculptures from the Chateau de Marly, most of the works commissioned by Louis XIV near the end of his reign. Dinner tables will be set on all three levels in an artistic fantasy orchestrated by internationally-renowned party planner Ben Bourgeois of Los Angeles.
Dinner will be followed by champagne, desserts and coffee in the I.M. Pei-designed pyramid where Janet Jackson will rock Louvre traditions with a one-hour performance. But before she takes to the stage, Becca will be in the spotlight serving as auctioneer for the trips and a highly-prized Richard Prince painting.
Houstonians on the Seine
The Lone Star contingent includes the chairwoman's proud husband John Thrash, song man Steve Tyrell and his bride Karen Pulaski Tyrell, Channel 2 news anchor Dominique Sachse on the arm of Nick Florescu, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor and their daughter Caroline, Neal Hamil and The Events Co.'s Richard Flowers.