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Scene Last Night: Knoll, Banamex CEOs at Monuments Gala

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World Monuments Fund
Maria Harp in Frida Kahlo-inspired attire. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- At the World Monuments Fund gala last night, honoree Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, former chief executive officer of Banco Nacional de Mexico SA, had his daughters, sons-in-law and a grandson fly from Mexico City to join him in the Plaza’s ballroom.

Honoree Andrew Cogan, CEO of Knoll Inc., was smothered in hugs from his 6-year-old daughter and joined for dinner by his two sons as well.

The inclusion of family seemed just right for an organization working to preserve some of the story of who we are and where we came from, at more than 600 sites ranging from English estates to the Storm God temple in Aleppo, Syria.

“Our monuments are the DNA of civilization,” said Chris Ohrstrom, the fund’s board chairman.

“We have a clear obligation to keep the cultural life, the heritage,” Hernandez said. “These projects are about economic development, human development, social development.”

His daughter Andrea Hernandez wore a top embroidered by a woman from the Yucatan Peninsula. The family’s foundation funds women entrepreneurs and ecological preservation there.

The woman dressed like Frida Kahlo was Maria Harp, wife of a close friend and business partner of Hernandez, Alfredo Harp Helu, a cousin of billionaire Carlos Slim Helu.

Painter Marilyn Perry, a past chairman of the World Monuments Fund, and Nancy Lee, chairman of the Friends of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, were also present and mingled with Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund.

Financial Services

From financial services were Bob Jain, head of alternative investments at Credit Suisse Holdings USA Inc.; Gabelli & Co. research analyst Tony Bancroft, who used to fly F-18s for the U.S. military; and Michael Davidson, a managing director in global real estate at JPMorgan Chase & Co, who called art and architecture “live textbooks.”

Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Managing Director Mark Tercek, now CEO of the Nature Conservancy, and former JPMorgan Chase executive Jeffrey Walker, author of “The Generosity Network,” were also on hand, along with William J. McDonough, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

They joined more than 400 guests total, raising $900,000, said Benjamin Haley, communications manager at World Monuments Fund.

The evening ended with an after party in the Knoll showroom hosted by honoree Cogan, who works with the World Monuments Fund to preserve modernist architecture.

The crowd there also included members of the World Monuments Fund’s Moai Circle, its group for young professionals.

“I want to re-do my apartment now,” said Alyssa Richardson, sitting on a bent-wood Gehry chair. She works in marketing for Fab NY, an accessories licensing firm.

The wall of color samples “is the best step-and-repeat ever,” said lawyer Carson Sieving of Vinson & Elkins LLP.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on opera, Daniel Akst on books.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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