CANNES, France (Reuters) - A glitzy charity gala near Cannes, where the film festival was drawing to a close, raised over $10 million late on Thursday, well up on 2009 as conspicuous consumption returned to the French Riviera.
Stars were out in force at this year’s cinema showcase, both on land, where they ran the gauntlet of the world’s media to get in, and at sea, where luxury yachts provided a more intimate setting for the pleasures of fine food, wine and music.
It was a marked change from 2010, when the hangover from the global financial crisis kept a lid on late-night revelry.
The annual amfAR “Cinema Against AIDS” dinner is one of the big dates on the party circuit, and was held again this year at the exclusive Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, a short drive from Cannes.
Among those who made the trip were film festival jury president Robert De Niro, Janet Jackson, Brooke Shields, Gwen Stefani, Donatella Versace, Sean Penn and Kanye West.
The event, held in a giant marquee in the grounds of the secluded seaside hotel, was in part a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor, the actress who died earlier this year and who was among the first celebrities to campaign about AIDS and HIV.
“At the very beginning she spoke up when others wouldn‘t, said things that others hadn‘t, and she was very bold and brave in stating her conviction,” said amfAR chairman Kenneth Cole. “To a large degree we’re where we are because of her,” he added.
Jackson said Taylor had “lit the flame, and we must carry the torch in the fight against AIDS.”
During the auction, hundreds of guests were invited to bid for items ranging from rare luxury items to exclusive holidays.
Top lot on the night was the opportunity to play tennis with Prince Albert II of Monaco, son of the late Hollywood actress Grace Kelly, for which a bidder paid 500,000 euros.
Albert’s fiancee, South African former Olympic swimmer and model Charlene Wittstock, raised the same amount with an impromptu offer of a private swimming lesson, taking the couple’s total contribution to the night to one million euros.
A limited edition Herb Ritts photograph of Taylor sold for 150,000 euros, and a signed and dated lithograph of Andy Warhol’s “Liz” went under the hammer for 400,000 euros.
As well as the auction, actress Milla Jovovich sang “I Want to be Loved by You” and Courtney Love gave an impromptu performance of two numbers.
Elsewhere during the festival, dance music thumped late into the night along the narrow beach in Cannes as the invited jostled with gate grashers to get past stern security guards and PR staff with clipboards and guest lists.
Industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter rated the parties which its reporters attended this year, and top of the pile was the soiree thrown by financing company Red Granite.
West and Jamie Foxx performed a duet on the beach opposite the swanky Carlton hotel, where guests were greeted by young women “dressed in black sheer outfits so snug they left little to the imagination.”
The shindig would have earned five out of five stars in the Hollywood Reporter’s rating, but was marked down for not one, but two VIP areas which included the only places to sit down.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato