On November 12, 2018 the FIAF hosted their annual Trophee des Arts Gala at The Plaza Hotel to raise vital funds to support the organization’s innovative programs, which explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures through education and the arts.
FIAF is the country’s leading French language and cultural center. Founded in 1898 by American Francophiles, FIAF is an American not for profit organization incorporated in the state of New York and is not an agency of the French governments. Located in the heart of NYC, the French Institute Alliance Franciase (FIAF) offers unique insight into French culture.
This year, FIAF honored Jane Fonda, an iconic American actress with the Trophee des Arts award and Sebastien Bazin, Chairman & CEO of AccorHotels with the Pilier d’Or award.
The evening started with a packed cocktail reception filled with well dressed attendees from New York’s social scene. Items for the silent auction surrounded the room; including a Moynat, Celine, Givenchy and Fendi handbags. After guests mingled for about an hour at the standing room only reception, everyone made their way upstairs to the ballroom.
Marie-Monique Steckel, President of the French Insitute Alliance Française (FIAF), welcomed everyone to the gala and thanked us for supporting the organization. She then informed us of the passing of Bob Wilmers, a longtime Board Member and Chairman for the last five years in December 2017. The new Chairman, Charles S. Cohen, has nurtured a lifelong passion for France and its culture and is an exciting addition to the team.
The first award presentation of the evening went to Sebastian Bazin, Chairman & CEO of AccorHotels. He spoke about his journey in the hospitality business and about his passion for transforming the lives of his employees and their families by providing stable employment.
Next, we experienced a very exciting live auction. The auctioneer not only raised over $100,000 during the live auction and over $127,000 for pledges, he was able to get a few laughs from the crowd with his entertaining personality. The live auction item garnering the highest bid was the 2017 art piece, Monkey Train, by Jeff Koons going for $45,000. And to top it off, Jeff Koons was in attendance and agreed to take a selfie with the person who won the bid.
After the live auction, a video of a few popular movie scenes with Jane Fonda was played to entertain the crowd. After, she was introduced and presented with the Trophee des Arts Awards for her track record of philanthropy, political activism and feminism. As she walked onstage, the audience gave her a standing ovation. She graciously accepted her award as she captivated the crowd with her beauty and wit. It was the perfect round up of a wonderful evening filled with charity, glamour and culture!