amFAR’s glamorous annual event tied to the Cannes Film Festival always has been a highpoint in turning out the fashion looks we associate with the Riviera event. It adds to the mystique of the festival and helps set it apart from others. This year was no different in that regard — but completely different in another. The event, now known as amFAR Gala Cannes, previously was called Cinema Against AIDS as a way of directly tying into the festival itself, and when Harvey Weinstein was a key poster boy for the event he made sure the stars and jury members always found their way to the Hotel du Cap in Antibes for this huge event, and before that at Moulin des Mougins nearby before it grew even bigger.
Those coming in search of some hot outfits and elaborate get-ups would not be disappointed, but the big movie star turnout we saw so often in the past was a little more muted, just like general attendance at the festival this year. Even though they are in town, the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Sylvester Stallone were nowhere to be found. “Oh my God, you’re here!
A person from the movie world,” said one well-known film executive when I strolled up to him at the reception. Still, there were plenty of opportunities for splashy photos that amFAR could put out there — all for a great cause, as the crowd was reminded when Elizabeth Taylor and Mathilde Krim were making sure it got the publicity it needed.
Over the past quarter-century more than $200 million has been raised from this event, so the fact that some lesser, but nicely dressed, luminaries were hogging the spotlight this time can be forgiven. Pamela Anderson, Kris and Kendall Jenner, Adrien Brody, Antonio Banderas (getting raves for his performance in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, a best actor Cannes awards contender), Milla Jovovich, Henry Golding, Andie MacDowell, Rebel Wilson and Eva Longoria were some of the bigger names in attendance. (Longoria has been on every red carpet imaginable for the past two weeks, hired to be L’Oreal’s Ambassador to Cannes this year).
They were mingling with Europe’s high rollers who come to party and bid on big-ticket auction items including a 1975 painting by Andy Warhol of Mick Jagger that was signed by both; a Myanmar adventure with explorer Johan Ernst Nilson; and an Alpine chalet adventure with champion freeride skier Manu Gaidet.
It is all the stuff of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and many of the people in attendance (most instantly unrecognizable but dressed to the nines) can afford to bid without even thinking about it. Among the items going for north of $1 million this year were the “We Can Be Heroes” fashion show collection curated by Carine Roitfield consisting of 35 different women’s and — for the first time — men’s styles, (the wealthy woman who won it brought her entire table up on stage to stand with the models).
A Vita X Electric Powerboat that was sold on a video presentation is something James Bond would have and went for $1.1 million. Chopard watches and earrings sold for $150,000, while a Naked Perfection motorcycle by Lewis Hamilton also went for $150,000. My favorite of all was a tour of some famous monasteries in Greece, and the prize was able to be duplicated as two separate bidders got the trip for $300,000 each. Veteran auctioneer Simon De Pury said this was possible because the owner has a great “relationship with the monks.” Then, since Disney is taking over everything these days, an 8½-foot-tall Bianco Carrara marble sculpture of Mickey Mouse holding a very real-looking goldfish in a bag went for $450,000. I almost bid. I love me some Mickey Mouse collectibles.
I will update this post when I get the final total raised during this year’s event. (UPDATE: amFAR reports $15 Million was raised)
Entertainment was provided by Dua Lipa; very loud band the Struts; legendary Sir Tom Jones singing three tunes, including, of course, “It’s Not Unusual”; and headliner Mariah Carey, who flew in from Dublin, where she had performed the night before. Sony Pictures Classics Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard told me they were attending for the first time in over a decade and were very happy to have two films they brought to the official competition, Pain and Glory, and Ira Sachs’ Frankie, and now a third with their pickup of Thursday night’s premiering Italian competition film, The Traitor, as Deadline reported exclusively while the amFAR dinner was going on. I spotted Bernard sneaking out after Jones sang. “I have to go buy another movie,” he said.
Welcome to Cannes.