Sharon Stone and Alicia Keys were the stars of the night at Cannes’ annual AmfAR gala, annually one of the most glamorous red-carpet events on the festival circuit.
At the top of the evening, Stone made a toast to all the donors in the crowd, as she spoke about how far the efforts to end HIV and AIDS have come.
Around midnight on Friday night, after a dazzling fashion show on the lawn of a mansion in Antibes, the actor-turned-emcee was auctioning off 32 one-of-a-kind gowns by designers such as Versace, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy and Balenciaga at the amfAR Cannes gala.
Joined onstage by the 32 models who’d walked a makeshift runway Stone was ready to pocket a big check for the non-profit devoted to fighting HIV/AIDS.
But the money didn’t flow as freely as the bottles of champagne that amfAR waiters poured over a five-hour dinner for a crowd of about 400 celerities, high rollers, business titans and oligarchs.
“Do I have a bid for $200,000! Let’s go.”
Not a single hand went up immediately, Stone looked out into the crowd and said,
“What a bunch of cheap motherfuckers.”
The 32 gowns curated by Carine Roitfeld ended up going for $265,000. In years gone by, the fashion show has brought in more than $1 million from a generous donor.
The annual charity auction, now in its 27th year, marks the unofficial end of the Cannes Film Festival. It’s been known for drawing major movie stars and musical acts — from Leonardo DiCaprio to Mariah Carey — and big bucks, raising $235 million since its inception.
After cancelling last year due to Covid-19, amfAR Cannes returned with less glitz and fewer people. Instead of the Hotel du Cap, the dinner was held at Villa Eilenroc, with a layout of tables that restricted dancing or schmoozing as part of social distancing efforts. The crowd was about half its normal size.
The bidding obviously wasn’t as fierce for the live auction featuring 24 items, including extravagant vacations (eight nights in Zanzibar for eight people went for $118,000), art pieces (a bronze astronaut sold for $472,000) and even the gold SUV driven by Sacha Baron Cohen in his 2012 movie The Dictator ($236,000).
In keeping with the night’s Great Gatsby theme, Stone auctioned off a first-edition copy of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald signed by two actors who played Gatsby at the movies — Robert Redford and Leo DiCaprio. The package also came with the cufflinks the men wore in their movies and a lunch with Stone at the villa where the gala was held.
It went for $200,000.
At around 1:30 a.m., Alicia Keys performed a set of four songs, including Empire State of Mind, in what was her first post-COVID concert.
Presenters included Regina King, Mj Rodriguez, Rachel Brosnahan and Lucas Bravo, the French model and heartthrob from Emily in Paris. Spike Lee was billed as a “featured guest,” but made such a brief appearance, hardly anyone saw him.
Stone said at the beginning of the night,
“We have been together for so long…
For so many years we didn’t know what was going to happen. And now we have commercial for AIDS medication on television, because of you. We can stop mother to child transmission, because of you.”
Through the night (and multiple outfit changes) Stone tried her best wrangle money from the crowd. At around 2:30 a.m., she emerged in a robe to sell a limited collection of watches designed by Chopard in the likeness of Gatsby and Daisy for $100,000 apiece.
But after she was only able to get the asking price for one pair of watches, when she still had an inventory of 42, she left the podium seemingly annoyed.
“Thank you for coming. Adios.”