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Sotheby’s 10th-floor gallery, bedecked with Jeff Koons’ colossal egg and other highlights of its upcoming contemporary art sale, was the setting for a dinner Monday evening for the Blenheim Foundation, which helps maintain England’s grandest stately home.

Though the dinner was a benefit and the guests such as Wilbur Ross and Hillary Geary, Pepe and Emilia Fanjul, and Kips Forbes had opened up their checkbooks to attend, most seemed to be close friends of the house’s owner, Sonny, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, who arrived with his new Iranian-born wife, Lily, and his daughter, Henrietta Spencer-Churchill.

This story first appeared in the May 14, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Running Blenheim is like running the Golden Gate Bridge, or an endlessly leaking faucet,” explained Spencer-Churchill, before an auction conducted by Jamie Niven.

A weekend at the house fetched upwards of $40,000 from an unknown couple— the only ones in the room, it seemed, who had never been to stay there before.