Paltrow’s longtime friends Dan Bucatinsky and Don Roos presented her with the award.
“I didn’t prepare anything because I don’t think I really believe in thank you speeches, but I did want to thank amfAR for this,” Paltrow said. “I feel very humbled and very undeserving and very appreciative. Of course I believe so much in amfAR’s work and have done and will do whatever I can to keep supporting the work until there is a cure for HIV/AIDS.”
Paltrow said as a mom of teenagers — daughter Apple is 15 and son Moses is 13 — she’s thinking more about issues like HIV. “It all hits home in a very different way,” she said.
She went on to talk about the name of the award. “It’s exceptionally meaningful to me because I think courage is something that I strive to have all the time,” Paltrow said. “I think since I turned 40, I sort of found the courage to be really who I am and to speak from the truest place.”
The evening’s guest list included Lea Michele, “Queer Eye” star Bobby Berk, designer August Getty, Eva Longoria, Paris Jackson, JoJo, Cara Santana, Frankie Grande, Gilles Marini and Rumer Willis.
While the gala continued to raise millions of dollars for the organization (a total amount will be released on Friday) and amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost announced that about a dozen patients are currently in trials for a possible cure for HIV/AIDS, this year’s soiree felt more subdued than in previous years. The red carpet lacked its signature energy and glamour. “What happened?” one publicist asked. “It used to be so packed; you couldn’t even walk.”
The evening’s other courage award recipient, gallerist Larry Gagosian, was a no-show. Musician Robbie Robertson accepted the award on his behalf.
There was a live auction, but didn’t feature any intense celebrity bidding wars like the one in 2014 when Miley Cyrus took home a Ryan McGinley photograph for $300,000 by outbidding Rihanna and Tom Ford. At last year’s event, honoree Katy Perry jumped on stage to help auction off items. Sharon Stone was the celebrity auctioneer for many years. Her no-holds-barred tactics continually inspired guests to open their wallets, but the actress has quietly distanced herself from the organization.
Heidi Klum is also usually on hand to help auction high-priced jewelry, but the supermodel mogul was MIA this time around.
The big musical headliner this year was none other than Christina Aguilera, who wowed the crowd with her singing, particularly when she hit those high notes.