Each year the United States Embassy in Paris receives more than 70,000 visitors and today I, my daughter Yasmine, and about fifty or so select guests count ourselves among them. We enter through a gatehouse off the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore and enter into the imposing mansion with a storied history. I’m thrilled because we’re here to inaugurate Arman’s sculpture “Small Liberties Born of Larger Ones” in the spacious gardens of the embassy residence. Ambassador and Mrs. Craig Stapleton welcome us with open arms as they graciously host a cocktail party for me in one of the three main reception rooms.
It was Rodica Seward who contacted me in February to tell me the wonderful news that Ambassador Stapleton was eager to extend the Embassy’s “Ties That Bind” exhibition to the grounds of the residence with Arman’s magnificent sculpture. My delight was tempered by the fact that the Embassy wanted the statute delivered and installed by July 2nd, prior to the Embassy’s annual 4th of July gala celebration. He wanted his guests to be able to see the work which he admired from the minute Rodica showed him a picture of it. Here it stands majesticallly on the terrace of the Ambassadors’residence overlooking the beautifully groomed garden, a red-white-and-blue ribbon tied to its base for the official unveiling. The scene leaves me choked with emotion. Among the special guests are Susan Gutfreund, Jason Wright, Catherine Verret-Vimont, John Schumacher and Barbara Cirkva, Judy and Peter Price, Lorenz Bäumer, Martine Cligman, Christopher O’Farrell, Velma Bury, Pierre and Marianne Nahon.
I am especially pleased that Judy and Peter Price, Jason Wright and Patrick Pacheco have flown in for the early evening event. (I’d also invited our friend, Mayor Mike Bloomberg to the event but he’s a little busy these days as the papers are filled with the news that he may run for President. He called to thank me for the invitation and offer congratulations on the honor to Arman. “Corice, I loved Arman, I love you but there’s not a chance in hell for me to come.!” I don’t know if he’ll run—it would be great if he did.) In the course of the evening, I enjoy meeting Ambassador Stapleton’s family—his son Walker and his daughter Wendy and her husband Diego Reyes who are just about to celebrate their daughter Lulie’s first birthday.
Ambassador Stapleton’s parting words: “Feel free to come back and visit anytime.” (In fact, I’ll be back in two days for the Fourth of July Bash.) Before we leave, Dominique Serra , the Embassy’s charming interior designer, gives us a tour of some of the rooms of the residence which had been built as the country home for Henri Francois d’Aguesseau, chancellor for Louis the XIV. On some of the walls—amid the formal paintings of historical and mythological figures—are a series of works by other artists on a theme—the Statue of Liberty….off to dinner later that night with Jason Wright who hosted a celebratory dinner at the restaurant L’Angle du Faubourg. What a gastronomic feast! And the wonderful company includes H.P. Goldfield and his lovely wife, Kristen, “H.P.” has a consultation business in Washington, D.C. with Sandy Berger, Clinton’s former foreign policy advisor and I love his quick wit and self-deprecating sense of humor. The day, like all those connected to ensuring Arman’s brilliant and timeless legacy, leaves me filled with emotion—pride, love, joy and the sadness that he is not here to see where one of his favorite pieces has ended up.
Arman would have been so proud to see his sculpture, “Small Liberties Born of Larger Ones”, in the magnificent setting of the Ambassador’s Residence of the United States Embassy, Paris.