Sharon Stone hosted and Alicia Keys gave a dazzling performance as the lavish amfAR gala that raises money for Aids research returned to Cannes on Friday evening.
One of the most anticipated nights of the festival, the 27th edition was a smaller more intimate affair than previous years, with the exclusive guest list pared from 900 to 400 people with Covid-19 protocols in place.
The night began with a cocktail hour complete with ballerinas, flapper girls with Afghan hounds, vodka and caviar shots and plenty of champagne.
Nina Dobrev poses for photographers upon arrival at the amfAR Cinema Against Aids benefit. Photo / AP
This was followed by a seated dinner without the usual after-party that keeps guests dancing into the early hours. That didn’t stop attendees from enjoying the hottest ticket in town.
Dining under the stars at Villa Eilenroc in Antibes, this year’s theme was “I am a Movie Star” and guests were entertained with a fashion show curated by Carine Roitfeld.
Keys was the music headliner, performing a spellbinding set which included her legendary hit New York as well as the much-loved Fallin’. Keys sat at the piano and announced to the crowd that this was her first in-person performance since the pandemic, to a rapturous applause from the diners.
Darren Criss during the 74th Cannes international film festival. Photo / AP
“It is beautiful, it is overwhelming, it is exciting, it is great to stay on mission here,” Stone said before the festivities began, noting that some of the science used to fight HIV and Aids was deployed against Covid-19.
“I think we’re staying on mission and we’re back at it which is really nice.”
This year’s festival jury president Spike Lee made a special appearance along with a star-studded guest list from screen, catwalk and music, including Dylan Penn, Natasha Poly, Orlando Bloom, Regina King, Swizz Beatz, Rachel Brosnahan and Soo Joo Park.
Sharon Stone (left) and Roan Joseph Bronstein pose for photographers at the amfAR Cinema Against Aids benefit. Photo / AP
The live auction which took place during the dinner saw a combination of luxury holidays, jewels, artwork and one-off experiences go under the hammer.
Stone led the proceedings, arriving on stage with a man on each arm. “Isn’t it so nice to be here!” she shouted before raising a toast of thanks to all the guests.
This year’s highlights included a chance to create your own personal vintage champagne which went for $117,877 (€82,638), while a Chopard 18-karat white gold diamond, tanzanite and amethyst necklace raised $286,272 (€170,000).
Among the artwork an Andy Warhol Mickey Mouse piece raised $631,570 (€375,000), a Michael Kagan astronaut sculpture went for $673,675 (€400,000) and contemporary British artist Sacha Jafri created a live painting during the auction which raised $1.68m (€1m).
Orlando Bloom, 44, at the amfAR Cinema Against Aids benefit. Photo / AP
The 32 top designer outfits featured in the evening’s fashion show were also auctioned off, gaining a hammer price of $378,890 (€225,000).
The non-profit amfAR, the Foundation for Aids Research, raises money to support Aids research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocacy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $785m in its programmes and has awarded more than 3,300 grants to research teams worldwide.
Before the sale, head auctioneer Simon de Pury stressed the auction’s importance to sustaining amfAR’s mission. “amfAR really does depend on those galas, does depend on the generosity of so many of those artists who give works and so many patrons who come to these galas, so I do hope we can raise a lot of money tonight for amFAR.”