The grand New York gala of the former resident of the Palace of Versailles in the presence of Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria

Barbara de Portago brought together once again, during her annual gala in New York, Royal Highnesses and generous patrons, all concerned with the preservation of French heritage. Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria, son of King Simeon II, was the guest of honor at the charity gala organized by the former resident of the Palace of Versailles. Prince Konstantin was accompanied by his wife, Princess Maria, and their daughter, Princess Sofia of Vidin.

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Barbara de Portago brings together generous patrons around the Prince of Vidin

Every year, Barbara de Portago, president of The Versailles Foundation & Giverny, is organizing a major charity gala in a prestigious location in New York. Barbara de Portago relies on her full address book to raise funds for her foundation which promotes Franco-American friendship and cultural exchanges by helping to finance the renovation of French historical heritage.

Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria and his wife, Princess Maria, arrive at the Versailles Foundation gala (Photo: David Nivière)
Prince Konstantin and Princess Maria, Prince and Princess of Vidin, with their daughter, Princess Sofia of Vidin (Photo: David Nivière)

This year, Barbara de Portago received the support of Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria, Prince of Vidin. Prince Konstantin, 53, is the fourth son of King Simeon II of Bulgaria. Prince Konstantin attended the charity gala with his wife, Princess Maria. The Prince and Princess of Vidin, parents of two children, were accompanied by their daughter, Princess Sofia of Vidin, 23 years old.

Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria with Allison and Peter Rockefeller, members of the foundation committee, next to Dimitri of Yugoslavia and his half-brother, Prince Dushan (Photo: David Nivière)
Barbara de Portago with Russell and Lindsay Grant (Photo: David Nivière)
Barbara de Portago, president of the Versailles Foundation and organizer of the evening, with Dewi Sukarno, widow of the first Indonesian president (Photo: David Nivière)

Barbara de Portago attaches great importance to the preservation of heritage and her passion for the Palace of Versailles is no coincidence. The left wing of the Palace of Versailles was her childhood home, where she grew up with her mother, Florence Bennett Harris, and her stepfather, Gérald Van der Kemp, a member of the Institut de France. The Institut de France notably owns Giverny, Claude Monet’s estate that his son bequeathed to the institute.

Prince Rudolf Kniase Melikoff and Monica Elias (Photo: David Nivière)
Aubrienne Bell with Cormac Cullinane (Photo: David Nivière)
Committee member Heide Huttl Canellopoulos with Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Prince and Princess de Vidin and Gillian Spreckels Fuller (Photo: David Nivière)
Cadets from the Valley Forge Military Academy surrounding the Prince and Princess of Vidin (Photo: David Nivière)

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Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria in New York to support the preservation of Versailles and Giverny

Gérald Van der Kemp maintained a social life in order to surround himself with patrons ready to help him in his conservation projects, notably the Palace of Versailles. His daughter-in-law, Barbara, continues this project. For example, the foundation is involved in the restoration of the marble statues in the park in Versailles. In 2023, thanks to donations collected, the foundation restored the pair of giant marble urns, sculpted between 1671 and 1673 by Jacques Grimault.

Former Canadian senator Jerry Grafstein and Ursula Cernuschi (Photo: David Nivière)
Famous Chinese-American TV presenter Yue-Sai Kan and Allen Pollock (Photo: David Nivière)
Peg Breen, president of New York Landmarks Conservancy, with a cadet (Photo: David Nivière)

The evening began with a welcome with Taittinger champagne. Just before dinner, Prince Konstantin spoke. Dinner was followed by dancing. The unaccompanied ladies had the honor of having cadets from the private boarding school of Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania as their riders.

Charles and his wife, the artist Gwendoline Finaz de Villaine (Photo: David Nivière)
The Marquis and the Marquise Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge (Photo: David Nivière)
Count Alexandre de Vogüé of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and Tracey Amon (Photo: David Nivière)

Barbara Schlubach married in 1972 Antonio de Portago, Grand of Spain and Count of La Mejoreda, godson of Queen Victory-Eugénia of Spain. He is the son of the famous racing driver, Marquis Alfonso de Portago, as recalled by New York Times during their marriage. After their divorce, Barbara married Jason Grant, then William James Tapert.

Prince Dushan of Yugoslavia and Princess Valerie at the gala (Photo: David Nivière)
Prince Konstantin of Bulgaria and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia (Photo: David Nivière)

The former royal family of Yugoslavia was also represented by two of its members. Jeweler Prince Dimitri attended the party with his half-brother, Prince Dushan. Princes Dimitri and Dushan are the grandsons of Regent Paul of Yugoslavia and Princess Olga of Greece. Prince Dimitri is the son of Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, eldest daughter of King Humbert II of Italy, while his half-brother Prince Dushan is the son of Princess Barbara of Liechtenstein. Prince Dushan attended the evening with his wife, Princess Valerie.

Before the dinner set, the Prince of Vidin speaks (Photo: David Nivière)
Speech by Konstantin of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince of Vidin, Prince of Bulgaria, Duke of Saxony, son of King Simeon II, last Tsar of the Bulgarians (Photo: David Nivière)

Also seen at this fundraising event was conservative Allison Whipple Rockefeller, wife of Peter Clark Rockefeller, grandson of Governor and Vice President of the United States Nelson Rockefeller, himself grandson of John Davison Rockefeller , founder of the Rockefeller dynasty.

The Prince by Ranajay Chand and Brianna Martin (Photo: David Nivière)
Barbara de Portago with Gillian Spreckels Fuller, formerly Lady Charles Spencer-Churchill (Photo: David Nivière)
Gemologist and philanthropist Alexandra DeBourcy(Photo: David Nivière)

Among the members of the foundation and those responsible for the foundation committee, were Russell and Lindsay Grant, Heide Hüttl Canellopoulos and Gillian Spreckels, formerly known as Lady Charles Spencer-Churchill, ex-daughter-in-law of the 10th Duke of Marlborough.

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Nicolas Fontaine


Nicolas Fontaine has been a designer-editor and author for numerous Belgian and French brands and media. A specialist in royal family news, Nicolas founded the site Histoires royales of which he is the editor-in-chief. [email protected]



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