A few years ago, Viosa and Richard Lukaj welcomed Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice of the British Royal Family, in Connecticut, as they collaborated to promote the Sentebale Foundation.
This Sunday, the Lukajs welcomed members of another Royal Family. Prince Leka II and Princess Elia, who are visiting the United States, traveled to Connecticut to join the well-known Albanian-American banker and philanthropist and his wife, for a private viewing of the Marubi Photography exhibition at the new GR Art Gallery.
Unlike, the larger gala gathering in Greenwich, in 2010, where Lukaj and Prince Harry promoted the work of Sentebale to dozens of high-net-worth potential donors, last evening was a much more intimate affair.
A number of close friends were invited to see the exhibition, which offers a rare journey through the past of Albania, setting probably the right context for the conversation that ensued when the crowd moved to Lukajs’ beautiful home in Greenwich.
This was the first time that photos of the famous Marubi Family have been exhibited in the United States. The Marubis were pioneers of the art of photography not only in Albania, but in most of Eastern Europe.
Their work offers amazing insights from the Albanian past.
King Zog of Albania, grandfather of the visiting Prince Leka, had chosen a Marubi to be his official photographer of the court. The Marubi photo collection is today listed among the worldwide UNESCO treasures.
Moreover, GR Art Gallery is Albanian-owned and operated by a formidable immigrant couple, George and Rozafa L. Pali, MD. George is an accomplished painter and artist and coincidentally also the first art director of Illyria newspaper, at its inception. Rozafa is a medical doctor, an Ob/ Gyn at the Montefiore Medical Center.
It was an unforgettable visit to the gallery, Mr. Lukaj wrote, “followed by deep and thoughtful discussion over dinner among friends afterwards”. He further thanked George Pali and Besnik Zherka for helping with the organizational elements for this special evening.
The Marubi Exhibition remains open to the general public through mid-summer.
Prince Leka and his wife traveled to Lukaj residence after a reception in Manhattan hosted by Albanian Roots, an organization of young Albanian-Americans. Prince Leka’s visit in US included an unexpected funeral of an old friend and ally of his family and an official recognition by the State of New York for Saint Mother Teresa. (Ruben Avxhiu)