The Gala Circuit
It's been 50 years since the hottest ticket in town began—but who’s counting? We are... Save Venice by the numbers
Of all the signs that the pandemic is (hopefully) receding into the background, the return of the great galas of New York may be the strongest indicator yet that the city is ready to move on. And there is no better party on the gala circuit than the annual Save Venice Ball, happening again this Friday, April 8th at Cipriani South Street.
Like the people of the city, New York’s galas come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s always a cause du jour that attracts the highest level of fashion and social crowds. At one point, it was the April in Paris Ball at the Waldorf Astoria to benefit charity and Franco-American relations. Then, for years, the Met Ball was the most-glamorous social event of the season.
But the current holder of the society crown is Save Venice’s “Un Ballo in Maschera”. Unlike other organizations that funnel fundraising efforts to administrative work, Save Venice prides itself on applying capital efforts to a wide range of conservation efforts.
In honor of its 50th year, we look back on some of Save Venice’s defining projects, funding, and galas since its October 1971 founding.
The height of the record flood in 1966 that prompted the creation of Save Venice. The worst-recorded flood in city history caused millions of dollars in damage and left thousands of Venetians homeless.
The year Save Venice was founded, bringing together art historians, conservators, and donors to rescue damaged and threatened works of art, architecture, books, and manuscripts.
The number of restoration projects Save Venice has going on in the northern Italian city, comprising over 1,000 individual artworks.
Percentage of Venice submerged in November 2019 by the acqua alta, the local term for high water caused by rising Adriatic tides.
The number of sites Save Venice launched as part of its #AmericaLovesVenice campaign in 2019.
Number of Tintoretto paintings restored in Venice thanks to Save Venice funding in 2018, the year that marked the 500th anniversary of the Italian artist’s birth.
The size, in square-feet, of the Byzantine mosaics and stonework being restored at the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta founded in 639 on the sparsely populated island of Torcello at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. Previously unseen fresco fragments from the 9th century were uncovered here in 2020 thanks to restoration work.
The year Save Venice launched their Women Artists of Venice program to research the women artists and artisans born and/or active in Venice in the early modern period.
Meanwhile, the jeunesse dorée fly into New York each April to attend the party. It’s where you can see real New York glamour out and about, a parade of beautiful people in eye-popping dresses that are almost worth the expensive ticket prices just to gawp at. Many of the guests are European and they imbue their American counterparts with an understanding of how to have a good time all dressed up.
Record-breaking funds raised at 2019 masked gala at the Plaza, the last year the event was held before Covid.
Amount raised after the city’s November 2019 flooding, the second-highest flood on record.
Cost of a Grand Benefactor table—with the best table placement on the dance floor—for the April 8, 2022 gala. A single ticket costs $2,500.
Value of the Bulgari baubles bestowed upon Venetian couturier Antonia Sautter when she won the organization’s Lady’s Prize in 2019.
Number of guests at the last in-person gala pre-pandemic, which included philanthropic royals, fashion designers, and celebrities including Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Tory Burch, Laura Kim, Fernando Garcia of Oscar de la Renta, and James and Nicky Hilton Rothschild.
It might also be the only gala whose afterparty can get so overbooked that people get turned away, as happened a few years back when Chase and Stephanie Coleman let late-night partygoers graffiti their apartment (they were upgrading to another floor in the same building and letting their friends release their inner Banksy seemed like a lasting homage to good times).
If only other galas could take note, New York might just have a better party scene coming out of Covid than going in.