The small soirée, which opened with talks by ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and WMF Director Bonnie Burnham, guaranteed a gathering of A-listers, including former chief of protocol Lucky Roosevelt, Oceana Energy Co. chief Bill Nitze and his wife, Ann; Philip and Nina Pillsbury; Chris and Lila Ohrstrom; the Count and Countess Renaud de Viel Castel; and Giosetta Capriati.
The WMF, which was launched in 1965 by retired U.S. Army officer James Gray, has never shied away from difficult challenges. Gray’s early goal was to prevent the Leaning Tower of Pisa from actually toppling by freezing the soil beneath it. The tower’s tilt was eventually tackled with different methods, but Gray’s organization went on to support Ethiopian churches and Easter Island monoliths, as well as means of protecting Venice from flooding.
Preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, the WMF has taken on some 600 projects in more than 100 countries, providing not only funding but actually doing the restoration work. Current projects, according to George McNeely, WMF’s vice president for strategic and international affairs, include restoration in the Forbidden City, in the gardens around the Taj Mahal, and of the spectacular Carracci frescos in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome.
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