Numerous news sources, February 28, 2007
After more than 13 years she died, Hollywood sensation Audrey Hepburn got a new lease of life in a remote West Bengal village, thanks to the altruistic zeal of French writer Dominique Lapierre.
At a South 24 Parganas village, 50 km south of Kolkata, the celebrated French writer Wednesday inaugurated a school and a mental clinic with funds raised from the sales proceeds of the famous black gown of Audrey Hepburn that the diva wore in the 1961 celluloid gem ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
Indophile Lapierre and his wife Dominique Conchon-Lapierre inaugurated the new education centre – ‘Bodhalaya Vidyalaya’ – as hundreds of children and villagers received the Lapierre couple and their supporters from the West on a grand homage to Hepburn, who had been an ardent Unicef’s goodwill ambassador until her death in 1993.
Hepburn portrayed the naive, eccentric socialite Holly Golightly in the film that won Academy awards.
The Lapierres are financing a programme of 15 schools, thanks to the money from the Hepburn’s dress which was given to him by its designer, French fashion genius Hubert de Givenchy, when he found out that some of Lapierre’s schools had been devastated by floods.
Givenchy thought the dress would get about $10,000 for it from ach collector.
Lapierre took the dress to Christies’ auction house in London. It was sold Dec 5 last year for $825,000.
Speaking on the occasion, Lapierre also dwelt on his charity for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims.
He said his book on Bhopal gas tragedy co-authored with Javier Moro has stopped other ‘Bhopals from recurring around the globe’.
‘My book keeps reminding the people about the tragedy and the utter neglect for human dignity in Bhopal. It has perhaps stopped other Bhopals happening around the globe,’ said Lapierre.
Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro in their book ‘Five Past Midnight in Bhopal’ looks into the Bhopal gas tragedy and its aftermath.
Lapierre, who acquired cult status in West Bengal post his book ‘City of Joy’, and for his charity in Sundarban islands and other West Bengal villages also flayed the state government’s decision to ban rickshaw in Kolkata.
His ‘City of Joy’ was based on the trials and tribulations of rickshaw puller Hazari Pal.