Cannes glitterati step up for AIDS charity gala

Thu May 22, 2014 10:05pm EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

CANNES France (Reuters) - Sharon Stone showed up in a daring dress, John Travolta flew in on his plane, and even Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst made an appearance to support the Cannes film festival's largest charity ball to raise money for AIDS research.

At the 21st annual event organized by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, the film world's glitterati assembled on Thursday night to raise $38 million for charity, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein announced.

The amfAR gala, held at the luxurious five-star Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, perched over the blue water of the French Riviera not far from Cannes, is the biggest fundraising event at the world's largest and most prestigious film festival. The benefit was first hosted by Elizabeth Taylor.

With celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kylie Minogue, Dita Von Teese, Adrien Brody, Paris Hilton and even Catherine Deneuve in attendance, the event was the place to be as the prestigious film festival began to wind down, with top prizes to be awarded on May 25.

AmfAR has raised some $120 million (71.17 million pounds) in the 20 years it has thrown the gala during the Cannes film festival. The go-to event relies on celebrity power and high-profile donations, and the 900-person guest list on Thursday included models, actors and the who's-who of the film world.

Champagne, a Pablo Picasso sketch, a motorcycle and a trip on a yacht were auctioned at the high-profile event, as DiCaprio puffed on an electronic cigarette, surrounded by two bodyguards, and Lana Del Rey and Robin Thicke performed to the crowd.

Raising the most money, at 11 million euros (8.89 million pounds), was the auction of a gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a steel and glass box, by artist Damien Hirst.

The winning bidder, Ukrainian businessman Leonard Blavatnik told Reuters he was not sure where he would put the massive beast.   Continued...

Actor Adrian Brody arrives for amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS 2014 event in Antibes during the 67th Cannes Film Festival May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier