Leo and David! Leo and David! Everybody was trying to get near this year’s power duo at the Cannes amfAR gala. At around 8 p.m., at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes, the world’s biggest movie star was chatting with the famous soccer player, as bodyguards flicked away photographers. Leonardo DiCaprio looked animated, using his fingers to count down talking points, as David Beckham nodded politely.
Then it was time to go inside the dinner, held in a massive tent with a 1920s Hollywood vibe and dancing showgirls. As Beckham strode through the grass, a fan managed to sneak by him to ask for a selfie. Beckham hesitated, before reluctantly agreeing.
“David, you should charge money for that picture, man,” one of his handlers cracked. “$10,000 a shot!”
It might not have been a bad idea. This year’s amfAR celebration — which feels like the unofficial closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival — raised $20 million for HIV/AIDS research, as celebrities rallied onstage to encourage the rich to bid on valuable art, yacht-destined vacations, and other unique items. Beckham and DiCaprio were seated at the same table, along with Tobey Maguire. Will Smith, Dustin Hoffman, Eva Longoria, Jessica Chastain, Christoph Waltz, Adrien Brody, and Dionne Warwick were also in attendance.
“Elizabeth Taylor is the reason we’re here tonight,” said Nicole Kidman, referring to the organization’s first celebrity champion.
The dinner, which started in 1993, now generates enough star power to rival the Oscars and enough alcohol to put the Golden Globes to shame. There’s also a fashion show with a stage packed with supermodels (Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, etc.), where 30 dresses sold to a single bidder for $3.4 million, and musical acts straight out of the Grammys.
Nicki Minaj kicked off the night by performing a set, which included backup dancers shimmying on chairs (see video below). British crooner Rita Ora debuted her new ballad, “Your Song.” Diana Ross, donning a fur jacket, belted out chestnuts like “I’m Coming Out” and “I Will Survive.” And at 1 a.m., the night closed with Joe Jonas and DNCE. It wasn’t a tame performance, as the band’s bassist, Cole Whittle, dumped a bottle of champagne over his head, spraying some of the gowns in the front row.
Between the singing and dancing, there was the bidding. Beckham took the stage to sell a private soccer match with him and his pals for $390,000. A 1958 Jaguar signed by DiCaprio went for $670,000. Smith introduced a collection of portraits by celebrity photographer George Hurrell. But to help drive up the bidding, Smith took over as auctioneer, and threw in a selfie that would include his pals Chastain, Chris Tucker, and Uma Thurman as well as a “kiss on the cheek.” Sold! For $560,000.
Here are other highlights from the night: