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Dazzled by Diamonds Are Forever Gala

Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Four hundred and fifty of Newport's glitterati made red carpet entrances around town at the various events on Friday, August 2, 2019 to welcome the South African Polo Team and support jewel of the community, Newport Music Festival at Diamonds Are Forever, the 19th annual International Polo Charity Ball, reaching a new fundraising record for the event, topping $35,000 from the live and silent auctions.

The sold-out black tie gala embraced the glamorous world of James Bond, and South African cultural influences to rule the night and captivate the senses with exotic flavors, rhythms, decor, and auction treasures. 

Celebrations began with a Meet & Greet reception for the South Africa team on the Clifwalk Terrace of The Chanler.  Gala-goers then made their way along famed Bellevue Ave mansions to Marble House for a champagne welcome where the terrace offered passed hors-d'oeuvres and a specialty martini bar serving the James Bond inspired Vesper Martini and South African Port Elizabeth Martini by The Cocktail Guru, before drifting with the sounds of a jazz duo across the lawn to immerse in the twilight ocean views and scenic Rhode Island sound in the backdrop for photos at the Japanese Tea House, 

Diamonds, well-tailored dinner jackets and exotic animal prints inspired the many fabulous interpretations of the bond-esque South African theme.  Gala Ambassadors Virginia Gambale, president of the board, and Cynthia Sinclair, board member emeritus from Newport Music Festival were joined by Polo Ambassadors Laurel & Rob Howe to gladhand arriving guests in a parade of festive attire.

As the sun went down, the bidding heated up on exclusive Silent Auction opportunities featuring original works of art, exciting adventures, excursions and getaways, designer apparel, gifts and jewelry, dinner & theatre tickets and other highly sought-after packages from generous donors.

Under the canopy, the terrace was decorated in garden motif with bold South African hues and exotic florals on the mild summer night, perfect for dining al fresco.  Gifts from Paxmonde were at each place setting.  Live musical entertainment from Decades by Dezyne adding to the magic. Welcomes were MC'd by Newport Polo President, Dan Keating, including:

  • South Africa Polo Team: Harold Awuah-Darko Sr., Harold Awuah-Darko Jr., Aly Kashef and Selby Williamson
  • Newport Music Festival:  Virginia Gambal, Cynthia Sinclair
  • Sponsors: Paxmonde, Rhode Island Spirits, The Cocktail Guru, The Chanler at Cliff Walk
  • Patrons:  Stacie Mills, Laurel Howe, Peter Barrego & Christon Gibson, Ann Clemens, Helen Johnson, Andrew & Lisa Maillet, Andres Macellar, Blaine & Stephanie McBurney, Ann Murray & Jennifer Saia, William & Gina O'Malley, Caroline Reavy, Cynthia Sinclair, William St. George, Michael Wyzga
  • Auction Committee:  Pamela A. Pantos, Chair; Cynthia Sinclair, Anthony Carcieri, Patricia Peterson, Suzanna Laramee, Leslie Hogan, David Burnham, Katie Johndrow, Stacie Mills, Alessandra Dolnier, Dave Schultz, Agnes Keating

Grammy-nominated baritone Trevor Neal was accompanied by Suzanna Laramee on piano for a special surprise performance before Sotheby's auctioneer, Hugh Hildesley, offered up the nights crown jewels in the live auction.  Leading the prizes was a private 5th Avenue Party and performance by Neal; Patriots vs. Chiefs tickets, an autographed Tom Brady Jersey, a South African Lux Safari to Kruger, and two more exclusive experiences to delight the highest bidders.

Blackstone Catering's chef created the South African-inspired hors d’oeuvres, 3-course dinner with South African springbok paired with South African wines in honor of the visiting team and desserts.  Après dinner guests joined the party to heighten the competition in Silent Auction bidding until the auction tables closed, and enjoyed refreshments and dancing until the stroke of midnight.  The odyssey's finale ascended to the Skybar, atop Clarke Cooke House for a last dance.

19 years and counting, the International Polo Charity Ball is the social highlight of the polo season, when polo players, enthusiasts, and supporters come together for a lively celebration while benefitting worthy charitable organizations. Festivities carry on through the weekend as the international guests of honor take to the polo field to challenge USA.  An annual New England Lobsterbake by the legendary McGrath Clambakes catering specialists gives a spectacular finale to the weekend's events.

The Newport Music Festival's mission to inspire memorable life experiences through world-class artistry in unique, intimate, and historic venues.  For more than 50 years, the Newport Music Festival has been a mecca for acclaimed musicians from around the globe who come to perform, to inspire, and be inspired. The festival has produced over 2,000 concerts in stunning venues throughout the region. Believing that music can stir the imagination and heart as well as stimulate community pride and participation, NMF is committed to making the finest music accessible to as many members of the Newport community as possible by offering free concerts, Education & Outreach programming throughout the year.

We gratefully recognize our supportive Auction donors, without whom our mission to support Newport Music Festival would not have been successful:

Alessandra Dolnier
Aquidneck Club
Boch Center/Wang Theatre
Boston Common
Cynthia Sinclair
Duris Studios
Gioni Originals
Goodspeed Opera House
Harley Bartlett
Heron Luxury Charters
Jason & Co.
Jennie Huttler
Jessica Hagen Fine Art + Design
Jim Zynsky
Marilyn Woloohojian 
Melissa Fairgrieve
Michael Conover
Newport Cooks
Newport Music Festival
Onne van der Wal
Pamela Pantos
The Platinum House
The Power of Juice
Rare Earth Safari
Rhode Island Spirits
Rhode Island Distributing/Mancini Beverage
Sail Newport
Sally Strachan
Saltzman Watches
Sara Campbell
Schultz Marketing Partnerships
Stephen Grimes
Suzanna Laramee
Theater by the Sea
The Chanler at Cliffwalk
Torin Richards
Yamaha Artist Services

Marble House was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, and completed in 1892.  The house was inspired the Petit Trianon at Versailles, built at a reported cost of $11 million, of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet of marble.  Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society and envisioned Marble House as her "temple to the arts" in America.  Marble House instantly became the social and architectural landmark of Newport, ushering its transformation to a luxury Gilded Age resort.

For more information about the 2020 gala, donations, or to nominate a beneficiary, email Agnes Keating, GM of Newport Polo:

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