The committee

The committee in 1988

Daniel Vial
President of the International Committee for the Safeguarding of the Great Wall 

Anthony Ingrao
President of the American Committee 

Huang Hua
Chairman—Former Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs 

Viscount Norwich
Chairman of the British Committee “Save Venice Inc.” 

Count Zorzi
Chairman of the Italian Committee “Dante Alighieri Society” 

H. H. Mubarak Al Sabah

Mr. Lucien Bodard

Mr. Count and Countess randolini

Mr. Pierre Cardin

Mrs. the Princess Diane de Beauveau Craon

Mr. The Duke de Brissac

Mrs. The Marquess Cacciapuoti di Gugliano

Mrs. Deng Lin

Mr. Feng Ling An Mr. Guido Willi

Mrs. Hanae Mori

Mr. Han Ke Hua

Mr. He Guang Wei

Mr. Hu Yi Zhou

Mrs. Johnson

Mrs. Kazuko Shiomi

Mr. Kenzo Tange

Mrs. Evelyne Lambert

Mr. Makio Itoh

Mrs. Dina Merill

Mr. Richard H. Morgan

The International Committee for the Safeguarding of the Great Wall was founded in 1988. Its aim is to support cultural exchanges between China and the West centered on a common cause: the renovation of the Great Wall, a world heritage site.

At its inception, the Committee brings together eminent figures from Europe, America and Asia. Chinese and Western leaders, top executives, leading figures, and international artists are about to make history together by initiating new cultural and commercial exchanges and taking the gamble to celebrate this reunification with splendor and generosity.

Daniel Vial, President of the International Committee for the Safeguarding of the Great Wall: 

In 1983, Daniel Vial visits China with Pierre Cardin, on the occasion of the inauguration of a Maxim’s restaurant in Beijing. In a country that has just come out of the Cultural Revolution, they met Chinese officials who are passionate about French culture and willing to open up to the world. At this point, Maxim’s restaurants were opening all around the world, including Moscow and New York. The inauguration of this strong symbol of French culture marked a desire for reconciliation with the West.

Daniel Vial was then part of the French Committee for the Safeguarding of Venice. It was an opportunity for him to talk about this organization that had been raising money since 1966 for the restoration and protection of this common world heritage. It was obvious to everyone that this notion of supra-­‐nationality, of common heritage, also concerned the most famous of Chinese monuments, the Great Wall of China, a powerful symbol of a civilization whose history dates back nearly five thousand years.

Daniel Vial highlights a link between the Great Wall and Venice, one of the major symbols of Western civilization, in order to establish a rapprochement between East and West. A new challenge would thereby be raised: engage in a comparable initiative by raising funds for the restoration of the Great Wall and the city of Venice.

Thus, in 1988, Daniel Vial was appointed President of the International Committee for the Safeguarding of the Great Wall, which was intended to meet this challenge.

A number of memorable events were organized on the course of three days in emblematic locations of Chinese history: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Hall of the People, and the Summer Palace.

Most invited artists were present, the media covered the events both in China and in the West because they represented real firsts in the history of China: the first exhibition of contemporary art, the first auction, the first opera and western dance gala evening held in the Hall of the People. This was the beginning of a great adventure that carried on to the following year in 1989.

The event was named “The Return of Marco Polo”…What could be more powerful as a symbol of reconciliation between East and West than this link between two treasures of humanity, well beyond borders?

Extract from an interview with Daniel Vial, published in the exhibition catalog of the auction organized by Drouot on May 6th 1989:

“To save Venice and the Great Wall”

Beyond borders, beyond cultures, and beyond current affairs, a small group of individuals, both Chinese and Western, have decided to come together in order to save the two most significant monuments in the history of mankind: Venice and the Great Wall of China.

Marco Polo, the Venetian, is the cultural and logical link behind this wish; revered both in the West and in China, he represents for all of us the thirst for adventure and discovery.

It is these myths, these inaccessible dreams that we will try to resurrect by organizing “The Return of Marco Polo,” with the support of Chinese authorities. Three days of celebration and amazing parties in Beijing will hopefully raise funds thanks to each and every one’s generosity. In Venice, these funds will be allocated to the Basilica of St. Mark and in China, to the Great Wall in Mutianyu.

The year of 1989 is both the bicentenary of the French Revolution and the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the liberation of China. As a symbol of the freedom henceforth regained, this double anniversary will fittingly be celebrated by the greatest singers and dancers at the Liberty gala, broadcasted on televisions worldwide. This event will also be hailed by the Drouot auctioneers in Paris, who will organize an auction in China for the first time. Mr. Joël-­‐Marie Million, President of Drouot, accepted our project spontaneously and for that I thank him sincerely.

Our call was also heard by the greatest contemporary artists who, with extreme generosity, have donated major works that, as a whole, constitute a complete panorama of contemporary art both in the West and in the East. To participate in “The Return of Marco Polo” or to acquire a work featured in this catalog is not only carrying out an act of charity but is also participating in a collective momentum with the greatest artists of our time.