“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at an auction,” said Harvey Weinstein at Amfar’s annual Cinema Against AIDS benefit Thursday night, just before taking bids for a space voyage on Virgin Galactic alongside fellow passenger Leonardo DiCaprio (billed in the auction program as “Mystery Guest”).
But in the end, the 1.2 million Euros fetched by the exotic vacation couldn’t compete with the 1.5 million Euros paid for a VIP Academy Awards weekend in L.A. that included a pair of tickets to Weinstein’s own pre-Oscar bash—though not, curiously, to the ceremony itself.
All that glittered was indeed gold at the 20th annual gala, typically one of Cannes’ glitziest of ffestival affairs, which included a powerhouse performance by Shirley Bassey singing (what else?) “Goldfinger” and a mini runway show of models in gilded couture.
While trying to drive up the collection’s auction price, event chair Sharon Stone offered to throw her own strapless, backless white gown into the bargain, noting “I’ve come home in a tablecloth before, you know!” It was one of several selfless gestures throughout the evening, which also saw Heidi Klum offering herself as a date to one lucky bidder, and Adrien Brody auctioning a Bulgari watch from right off his own wrist.
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Striking a somewhat more serious note, Stone reflected back on her long history with Cinema Against AIDS and how far the event had come since its early days at the Moulin de Mougins restaurant, where “I stood on a chair auctioning off a glimpse of Naomi Campbell’s navel ring.”
McDermott, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Renner, Zhang Ziyi, Cannes jury members Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz, and Jessica Chastain, whom Weinstein joked was “graciously waiting for me to make a movie with her again so she can finally win the Oscar.”
By the end of the night, the event had raised a whopping 25 million Euros for AIDS research, more than doubling 2012’s record 11 million Euro total. At which point Duran Duran (who auctioned off a private performance earlier in the evening) took to the stage and got the crowd on their feet with a rousing set that included a perfect anthem for Cannes: “Girls On Film.”
PHOTOS: amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS: