I was saddened when I got the call from Sheikh Abdallah Shamsaldeen Al-Fassi, the morning of May 12, 2016 announcing that our mutual friend Elisabeth Zingerle-Vanduffel from Belgium, had lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 57 . There was a small private service for just family and a few close friends including Sheikh Abdallah, Photographer Giel Domen and Thomas Gielen, in Leuven, Belgium, May 14, 2016. Madame Elisabeth Vanduffel leaves behind a much beloved son Mickael Zingerle, age 31, and a sister Kristine, her husband Ignace Corthouts, and their two daughters Céline and Caroline Corthouts. Elisabeth was a founder of the Prestige Fine Art Corporation, with offices in London, Paris, Brussels and Cannes. She was a respected professional, a champion of the less fortunate, and a patron in the fine art world globally. She was well admired by many.
quality. I admired her strength and independence. Her elegance transcended the physical world, to touch a large following on social media as well. Indeed that is how I first met her. There developed over the many years a group of prominent and professional women, from all over the globe, that were energetically drawn together. Many of these members of this serendipitous group developed personal and professional interactions in the third dimension. She was a fellow female colleague working in the luxury arena with a large social media network. I was moved by comments left by those that knew her only through social media, on her FaceBook pages:
~“I see you as a woman who moves through life from a stance of beauty and elegance and in the distance and closeness of the digital world I aspire to someday reach such grace.”
~“I can only imagine someone as lovely as Elisabeth is surely sitting in splendor at the feet of our heavenly father”
~“Your heart and elegance were bigger than life”.
(These were but a small sampling of the many loving comments that were left by those she had inspired.)
Back in 2010, Eli called upon me for a favor; she asked me to cover for my wealthy luxury blog following, "Lorre White, LuxGuru.Typepad.com", one of her charitable events, headed by Monsieur Christian Pouligo at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. May 08, 2010 I posted “The heir of the Al-Fassi empire due to attend the Private Charity Art Auction organized by Art-Show Cannes” Eli, along with Sheikh Abdallah Shamsaldeen Al-Fassi, the son of the late World Sufi Leader His Excellency Imam Dr.Sheikh Shamsaldeen Al-Fassi, and other prominent distinguished guests, including the then Mayor of Cannes, helped to raise funds through the selling of photographs by Dodo Newman, for a Charity fund, in aid of the reconstruction of Haiti, with the assistance of the French Red Cross. Eli was very active in utilizing the arts to better the lives of all.
Many of my readers may remember that last year (2015) I gifted 100+ VIP passes to Art Monaco. Lorre White Gifts 100 ART MONACO Event Pass (150 Euros each) for her (LuxGuru.Typepad.com) 'The Luxury Guru' Subscribers . Recipients of the VIP passes included Elisabeth Vanduffel , Sheikh Abdallah, Lady Rothschild and many others. All of the afore mentioned participated by being interviewed for an article
I wrote 'The Ultra High Net Worth’s Own Insight Into Art Monaco’ that was published in several media sources. As a professional in the fine art world who regularly viewed art and attended shows, her critique brought an important art/business professional’s perspective to the article.
Many of her prominent colleagues and friends also had loving words to say of her:
Princess Christine Moldt-Lootens, C.E.O at C. P. Moldt's Jewelry of South Africa, originally from Paris, and a member of our group of women friends on FaceBook said:
"Eli, I Knew her in person. Someone asked me if I knew You angel. I laughed and said...that is funny I just adore that lady. She is a blessing. She is caring, loving, so sweet, beautiful and a lady of immense spirit, and an amazing artist. And from above if Eli is reading this message I just like to say... I just loved you. We where in touch for a few years whilst she already had cancer and was in remission. She loved life so much that nothing stopped her from doing what she wanted. When I needed her, she was supporting me all the time until her bad news came that the evil cancer had come back. But nevertheless that was not going to stop her of living her dream. An artist of note, and the most generous person you could have as a friend. I unfortunately lost one of my very dearest and precious friend. Be blessed in heaven darling Eli. I miss you."
Christian POULIGO, the Director of the Art Show Cannes and Founder of AVIFF Art Film Festival told me: ”Elisabeth Vanduffel was a dear friend of mine since our first meeting back in 2009 where she chaired the jury for the selection of our Video Art Festival. Blessed with a natural and innate grace, Elisabeth knew how to listen to people without being judgmental. She was known for that rare quality and advised many contemporary artists who paid tribute to her by way of offering her their work. Elisabeth spent much of her life to promote artists whom she believed in them most emphatically. She was more of a patron than an agent, driven by the values of sharing and humanity, without forgetting to favor the success of others even more than that of her own. In 2010, se presided over our gala evening in honor of the French Red Cross in Haiti, which took place on the 21st May 2010 at Her aura and charisma shined throughout the evening, whose success was largely to her credit. ……..It is a great sadness and an immense void that she has left us, especially with her premature departure. It is also a great loss to the world of art and its industry. We will be forever grateful to her ."
Eric Harson, the former head of culture for the city of Cannes, France shared with me: “My encounters with Madame Elisabeth Vanduffel, impressed me because of her desire always want to do things for the benefit of others to promote and encourage artists….her genuine and profound kindness can only leave you in admiration. …..Her death is an infinite loss for the world of arts, to which she was very attached…..When I look back at her, I think of the words of Madame coco Chanel, which were precious to her and which she embodied so well: ‘Luxury is not the opposite of poverty, it is the opposite of vulgarity.’ I have a friendly and sincere thought for Elisabeth Vanduffel, and I share the pain with all those who knew her."
Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr, perhaps the most known auctioneer in France, founder of the Nouveaux Realistes movement in 1960, president benevolent of the Palais de Tokyo and owner of invaluable.com told me: “Madame Vanduffel, had an elegant generosity about her…… I retain fond memories and a great admiration for this lady, whose contribution to the field of art, which she knew very well, was used for the fulfillment of noble causes."
Angel Orensanz, a sculptor/painter born in Spain, perhaps most recognized for his installations that can found across the world, is President of the Angel Orensanz Foundation Barcelona, and had the opportunity to work with Eli, said of her: “I was always impressed by the strong presence of Elisabeth Vanduffel and her aura, whether during official ceremonies or parties organized within the context of AFFIF, she always beamed with her own grace and intelligence, whilst always being available and playful…… She was a great lady.”
Sheikh Abdallah Shamsaldeen Al-Fassi was particularly touched by Eli, whom he lovingly referred to as Tati: “Tati was like a second mother after my mother’s passing less than two years ago. Elisabeth was a mentor to me in the arts, a close friend, and a business partner to me. She had an ability to reach across cultures, counties and religions to embrace humanity."
Saudi Arabia's Royal relative, Sheikh Abdallah Shamsaldeen Al-Fassi plans to continue Elisabeth Vanduffel’s legacy by building and naming an art gallery in Vienna in the next few years for her. This will be done with the assistance of colleagues at Prestige Fine Art Corporation and in conjunction with her only child Mickael Zingerle, and friend and business associate, Monsieur Christian Pouligo. “We plan to donate 20% of all the Art Galleries on going proceeds to cancer causes” said Sheikh Abdallah. “This is a way that we can help all people, as cancer does not discriminate. My father was very active in philanthropic endeavors, and it is important to me to carry on that tradition in my own style. Mickael, Christian and I, want to support causes that benefit all of humanity.”
I look forward to sharing their progress and the opening ceremonies to The Elisabeth Vanduffel Art Gallery with my many readers, friends of Eli, humanitarians, and art lovers.
My mother says that I was drawn to the luxury profession because I am always looking for beauty, in a sound, a smell, a taste; a perfectionist always looking to create the perfect experience. Elisabeth and I shared a common love of "beauty in all its many forms". She truly embodied it in every way.
Elisabeth, you will be missed, always loved, and through this well-deserved memorial… your passion for the arts and humanity..... simply put, your beauty will live on!
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