Everything You Need To Know About Lebanese Philanthropist Lady Sursock

Official Bespoke / Ferrante Ferranti & Matthieu Ferrier | The New York Times Style Magazine

lives by the wind that comes from the sea.”

Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane

Having spent her life upholding art and culture in , one of the few prominent figures in philanthropy, Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane, paved the way for promoting the welfare of others in the country. 

A defender of ’s heritage, Lady Cochrane left a legacy that goes beyond being a socialite and a name to remember.

Official Bespoke

A member of the aristocratic Sursock family, one of the oldest representatives of ’s heritage, Lady Sursock suffered injuries to her lungs as a result of the explosion and passed away on Monday, August 31, 2020.

The 98-year-old public figure was at her family’s Sursock Palace, one of ’s landmarks, when the explosion happened last month.

The blast wrecked through the palace, one of ’s most spectacular properties that took 20 years to rebuild after ’s civil war, massively destroying the place and badly injuring her.

Born in in 1922 to the high-class Greek Orthodox Sursock family, Lady Cochrane dedicated her life to preserving ’s architectural treasure.

She advocated for the arts scene, building ’s best-known art museum, the Sursock Museum, where she was the president and general manager from 1960 until 1966. 

In 1960, she started the Association for Protecting Natural Sites and Old Buildings in to defend the country’s cultural heritage and past.

Sursock Palace – Official Bespoke  Ferrante Ferranti & Matthieu Ferrier

The association campaigned to preserve many sites that we now have the chance to indulge in, including historic buildings, the National Museum, and cultural spots in and other cities.

Lady Cochrane had harsh criticism towards the state in regard to their obsession with destroying historic buildings in order to make way for the new. Her efforts in preserving historic Lebanese sites continued right up until her death.

lives by the wind that comes from the sea,” she said in a 2008 interview with Monocle, criticizing the modern buildings in Downtown, including building skyscrapers that now act as a block to a beautiful sea view.

According to her, that was once known as “The of the Middle East” has fallen into a deteriorating environment of political chaos.

“We are a country that has no recollection. Unfortunately, those who have no recollection have no future,” she had said in that regard.

The unstable situation in the country deeply concerned her, as she once said would soon be “left with the bottom of the barrel.”

Chris Rampling, Great Britain’s Ambassador to , expressed admiration for her life on Tuesday, describing her as the queen of .

“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane, who campaigned tirelessly for the preservation of ’s architectural heritage throughout her life,” the museum said in a statement published on Instagram.

Lady Cochrane left a void with her passing. However, she also left behind a remarkable legacy that continues today with the mobilization of numerous associations under the Beirut Heritage Initiative currently endeavoring to save cultural pride; its heritage.


Our team works tirelessly to ensure Lebanese people have a reliable alternative to the politically-backed media outlets with their heavily-funded and dangerous propaganda machines. We've been detained, faced nonstop cyber attacks, censorship, attempted kidnapping, physical intimidation, and frivolous lawsuits draining our resources. Financial support from our readers keeps us fighting on your behalf. If you are financially able, please consider supporting The961's work. Support The961. Make a contribution now.