The Patron of artists, and the creator of the most important cultural centre in Venezuela during the last 20 years, Clarisa Velutini Pérez-Matos, dies in Caracas
The cultural world is mourning
Belén Clarisa Velutini Pérez-Matos represents the fourth of seven generations of merchants and bankers linked to the Mantuanas families that ruled the city of Caracas since the 17th century and continue to be the family group that owns the most land in Venezuela, as well as one of the enormous fortunes in Latin America.
Obituary | 8:42 GMT | 02 May 2023
The prominent civil engineer, promoter and philanthropist Belén Clarissa Velutini Pérez-Matos breathed her last in Caracas.
The Venezuelan cultural world is mourning after the death of Belén Clarisa Velutini Pérez- Matos, the most important promoter of art and culture of her time. Artists, writers, entrepreneurs and different private and official organizations have joined the mourning that afflicts the family of the creator and promoter of the most important private cultural centre in Venezuela for the last 20 years – the Trasnocho Cultural, the epicentre of art, cinema, literature, artistic training, theatre and entertainment.
"She was a person who cared for and protected everything related to the institution," said the organization in the text accompanying the public statement. Although she was one of the first five female engineers to graduate from the Universidad Central de Venezuela with a speciality in calculus, it was in the world of real estate investments, banking and, above all, in the cultural and artistic world where Becla, as she was better known, developed and directed essential projects and initiatives throughout her 99 years of existence.
José Pisano, director of the Trasnocho Cultural Foundation, remembers her as a "firm believer in culture as a transforming entity that leaves us a legacy we have enjoyed for more than 20 years". For many, this project is an example of how she followed in her father's footsteps, Julio César Velutini Couturier, who owned the old Rialto and Principal theatres, which surround the historic Plaza Bolívar.
Belén Clarisa Velutini Pérez-Matos represents the fourth of seven generations of merchants and bankers linked to the Mantuanas families that ruled the city of Caracas since the 17th century and continue to be the family group that owns the most land in Venezuela, as well as one of the enormous fortunes in Latin America. For more than 65 years, she was a banker and investor in other real estate developments. She was a shareholder and director of Banco Caracas, founded in 1890 by her family group, the first to mint an independent currency, and of significant influence in the creation of the Central Bank of Venezuela. She was born in Paris during the exile of her parents, Belén María Pérez-Matos and Julio César Velutini Couturier, who presided over the bank for decades. Refusing to grant a loan to the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez, Velutini Cotourier and his wife had to emigrate to France, where their two daughters, Belén Clarisa and Clementina Velutini de Herrera Uslar, were born.
She was the granddaughter of General José Antonio Velutini Ron, vice-president and president in charge of the Republic of Venezuela at the beginning of the 20th century, a fundamental actor in the national political life during the presidencies of Antonio Guzmán Blanco and Joaquín Crespo in the 19th century. She was the great-granddaughter of the famous Manuel Antonio Matos, banker and brother-in-law of Venezuelan President Antonio Guzmán Blanco, founder of the Banco Comercial de Venezuela, which later became the Banco de Venezuela. Manuel Antonio Matos led the Liberating Revolution against President Cipriano Castro, who publicly veiled him and the directors of Banco Caracas to pressure them to give him loans. His successor, Juan Vicente Gómez, named Matos his Minister of Foreign Affairs.
A True Patron of Artists
Representatives of culture and the arts have highlighted the grand vision of Belén Clarisa Velutini Pérez-Matos concerning the development of culture. "A great protector has left us", said filmmaker Solveig Hoogesteijn, for many years director of Trasnocho Cultural, "she had a vision, daring and a strong will. She rests in peace". Beyond culture, her passion for art stood out, making her the owner of an extensive collection of coins and masterpieces from Fernando Botero, Carlos Cruz Diez, Carmen Herrera, Marc Chagall, Goya, El Grecco and Suguharu Foujita, among others.
A Social Leader
A family trust she managed for years operates in the United Kingdom with a millionaire capital and investments in Italy, Switzerland, and France. Those who knew her closely emphasize that her fortune never distanced her from the hard work and social sensitivity that she could demonstrate. As a social leader, she also left as a legacy the creation and development of the Centro El Portal Foundation, one of her great dreams, conceived for the integral education of children through educational, nutritional, medical, psychological and sports services for children and adolescents in the parish of La Pastora, in Caracas. Today it is called Asociación Civil Sin Fines de Lucro, Centro de Educación Inicial Ramón Pérez Marcano.
After her death, representatives of the cultural, artistic and business world have recognized her contributions as a protector of culture and her legacy in human and social development in various fields inside and outside Venezuela.