Vive Le Castle
A middle-class interloper spends an evening hobnobbing with billionaire philanthropists and B-list royalty at a benefit for an opulent European palace.
In the spring of 2011, my wife and I were invited to attend a fundraiser for a well-known European castle. We hadn’t donated any money to the group ourselves—we didn’t even know that castles had fundraisers. But a well to do colleague had given some money—a lot of money, really—and he was unable to attend this very intimate dinner for the big donors. So he sent us in his place. The benefit was attended by only about 25 people, among them various aristocrats, patrons of the arts, billionaires and us: a middle class couple from suburban New Jersey. It was, for lack of a better term, bananas.