AmfAR’s Cinema Against Aids fundraiser was hotter than ever this year — both literally and figuratively. The annual charity auction raised a record $7.5 million inside a beyond-balmy tent on the grounds of the Moulin de Mougins restaurant.
“We’re going to auction off an air conditioner for $500,000,” George Clooney quipped when he reached the podium with his “Ocean’s Thirteen” crew to flog a yacht package. Kisses from the cast were used as bidder bait. The winning bid, $350K, included a smooch from Clooney.
Gavel goddess Sharon Stone, who called herself “the auction slut,” continued to offer special favors throughout the night. When guests were slow to raise their hands for a custom- made Julian Schnabel plate painting, she coaxed, “We’ll maul ya.” It went for $350,000 to fashion designer Roberto Cavalli.
Schnabel then offered to drizzle white paint all over one of Mario Testino’s giant b/w photographs hung around the tent. That item went for $400,000.
Harvey Weinstein persuaded Kylie Minogue to sing. She raised dinner guests to their feet with “The Locomotion” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” after individual donations of $10,000 each from bidders including Jeff Berg and Ivana Trump were amassed into two lots of $200,000. Another showstopping moment was delivered by burlesque babe Dita Von Teese, who rode a large mechanical MAC lipstick wearing bejeweled boots and pasties. She had both men and women agog. Later, her producers noted the lipstick’s gyrations had to be set on the lowest level so as not to boot her off the torpedo-like prop.
After her perf, Eva Mendes sought bidders for a lunch and a limo ride with Von Teese, at one point stressing some of the finer points of the package: “Huge bajungas!”
No AmfAR night would be complete without a weepy interlude and after announcing the night’s grand total Stone welled up as she told the assembled crowd: “When I stand with a mother whose infant is dying of AIDS and she’s thanking me, she’s thanking you.” Julian Lennon brought the soiree to a close with an energetic and tuneful rendition of the appropriately titled soul classic “Stand By Me.”
Alison James contributed to this report.