First the anti-war protest in Syntagma, then the gala dinner and auction at the G.B.

The Grande Bretagne, the hotel in the heart of Athens that has lived through the greatest, happiest and also the most blood-stained moments of the city’s history, officially opened its revolving doors for the first time to a philanthropic gala dinner on Thursday, April 3, with the first evening gowns and dark dinner suits arriving as soon as Greek Communist Party General Secretary Aleka Papariga had completed her speech from the platform in Syntagma Square opposite the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This hotel, now revamped in superb taste, will keep up its tradition as an oasis for events connected with art, charity and culture. Among those who were honored at Thursday’s philanthropic event were Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and with his wife Lila, Education Minister Petros Efthymiou with his journalist wife Anastasia, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni and her husband Isidoros Kouvelos, Athens deputy Panos Panayiotopoulos with the lovely Katerini Lalaouni, organizer of the exhibition, and art critic Haris Kambouridis, who helped former Christie’s employees Elisavet Lyra and Titi Angelopoulou with the auction. «With the Power of Art» was the title of the exhibition – which ran from April 1-3 – of work by well-known Greek artists from three generations. The artists offered 24 fine works free of charge, and the proceeds from the dinner and the auction went to ELEPAP, a charity for disabled children and young people, which also helps them find employment. Founded in 1937, its president is Maria Karella-Diamantopoulou, who told the crowd of 400, «The reason we did not postpone this evening because of the tragic events in Iraq is that it will benefit Greek children and young people with serious disabilities.» The auction was a great success, bringing in more than 700,000 euros. Among the outstanding works were «Hydra» by Panayiotis Tetsis, «Nude on a Divan» by Giorgos Rorris, «The Athlete,» a sculpture by Girgios Lappas and «The Pergola» by Costas Tsoklis. Helbi’s photos offer a glimpse of the fine art that was auctioned and the people who contributed so generously to the cause of ELEPAP, which has proved what good work it does.