Article first published in Forbes Monaco July 2022/ August 22.
How luxury unites Hollywood, royalty and philanthropy in Monaco.
From the jetty in Port Hercule, the launch of the Grace Influential Impact Award looked like a typical Grand Prix event on a superyacht. It was not.
The hundred or so guests on board the 48-meter Azzurra II for the exclusive presentation were supporters and patrons of the Princess Grace Foundation in Monaco and the U.S., the upper echelon of the Arts world you would expect to see at a New York or London opening. They were joined by Prince Albert and Greg Maffei, president of Liberty Media, which owns Formula One. After all, the annual award will be given to an F1 team that displays the most positive impact over the course of a season.
“It is about amplifying all of the good work teams are doing,” explained Brisa Carleton, CEO of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, who organized the soirée. “This includes diversity and inclusion, sustainability, philanthropy, excellence...all the values that Princess Grace championed during her lifetime.”
Carleton, a Forbes 40 Under 40 Alumni, added, “The Impact Award is part of the larger initiative. The princely family recognized that Princess Grace was at risk of being forgotten. Relevance, even for an icon like Princess Grace, is not something you can take for granted, it needs to be cultivated. On behalf of the family, we launched Grace Influential, which is about ensuring that new generations can understand her ongoing influence.”
A three-time Tony Award-winning producer and investor, Carleton was brought on three years ago to expand the Princess Grace Foundation-USA globally to ensure that Princess Grace’s philanthropic legacy of giving away grant money to emerging artists in theater, dance and film would have a sustainable and perpetual funding source. Carleton founded and manages a multimillion-dollar investment portfolio, featured in both Forbes and the Financial Times, which has over 25 Broadway hits including Hamilton, Moulin Rouge, and Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy.
One of the major funding sources for the Princess Grace Foundation- USA has been licensing Princess Grace’s name and likeness to luxury brands, such as Cartier, Dior and Mont Blanc. “Licensing is still important to the Foundation but, together with the prince, we felt there was a better way to tell her story beyond beautiful photos, in a way that could really showcase her values.”
As a way to tell her story, Grace Influential has joined forces with the world’s top designers to come up with products the princess would have loved today. Last July, the Grace de Monaco signature fragrance, Promenade Sur Le Rocher, was unveiled at the Hotel de Paris. (Created by award-winning master perfumer Olivier Cresp, 30 ml retails for €560.) “We find as young people are learning about her, they want to know more. Wearing a perfume inspired by her, they can say, ‘I am connected.’ And it is in a way more than if we just talk about her.”
For Carleton, Princess Grace was fun and funny, and very good at her job at being a princess. “She was ahead of her time in many ways—as a Hollywood star she renegotiated film contracts for women to have better pay parity. She worked for mother’s rights and pioneered breast feeding for women at a time when it was unpopular. She created the whole culture of philanthropy in Monaco and look at the clear impact it has had on her children and grandchildren who all completely focus on giving back.”
Which is why the Grace Influential Impact Award is a good fit with Formula One, to inspire motorsport to up its game. “F1 is trying to build a broader group of drivers and trying to be socially responsible,” Greg Maffei said at the launch. “We have a path to be completely carbon neutral by 2030—not only for our organization but for people who attend the event.”
The head of the mass media company valued at $12.67 billion (they own the 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves) commented, “We do have an ambitious plan. We are trying to be completely transparent about the work we are doing including the next generation of engines and working on much more sustainable fuels. Many teams have undertaken great initiatives on their own and the work they are doing is important, as least as important as the stuff we are doing at parent level. The fact that the Grace Influential Impact Award will recognize that is a wonderful added effect.”
In the coming months, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA will be building “an illustrious judging panel of 20 luminaries” and communicating with F1 teams to get the competition underway. The inaugural Grace Influential Impact Award will be presented at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix.
“In all the stories I have heard and in all of the conversations, nobody ever has a bad word to say about Princess Grace,” Carleton revealed. “The more I hear, the more she was an exceptional person. I find that inspiring. And it makes it easy for me to share that message.”