amFAR Cannes Gala: DiCaprio Painting Fetches $1.2 Million At Queen Latifah-Hosted Benefit For AIDS Research

Jeffrey Wright and Kate Beckinsale at the 2023 amfAR Gala at Hotel du Cap in Cannes Getty Images

amFAR, the organization founded by the late Dr. Mathilda Krim and Dame Elizabeth Taylor (the International founder), dedicated to funding AIDS research since 1985, held its annual Cannes Gala at the Hotel du Cap tonight as it has done for the past 29 years tied to the end dates of the Cannes Film Festival each May.

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Queen Latifah was the enthusiastic host for a very tony crowd that included the likes of Alex Pettyfer, Eva Longoria, Fan Bingbing, Heidi Klum, James Marsden, Jeremy O. Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Kate Beckinsale, Matt Smith, Odell Beckham Jr, Petra Nemcova, Rebel Wilson, Sadie Frost, Shay Mitchell, Storm Reid, Teyana Taylor and many more. The live musical performances were by Adam Lambert (sensational in two numbers, with one brilliantly in memory of Tina Turner), Halsey, Bebe Rexha and Gladys Knight, who looked like she stopped time with “Midnight Train To Georgia.”

As has been the case for years, Carine Roitfeld coordinated an elaborate fashion show with 19 models parading through the enormous tent where the event again was held. Highlight of the evening was the big-money auction run by Simon de Pury, and one of those items was all the designer wardrobes shown off collectively during the Icons Collection CR Runway Show. In past years, the collection has gone for over a million but this year just $600,000.

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Among the most interesting items up for grabs by the crowd that seemed very rich if not terribly famous — a photographer said yours truly was the first person he recognized making their way down the stairs to the gorgeous du Cap setting against the ocean — was a launch edition of the brand-new Aston Martin model (the brand James Bond made famous, of course) and not even revealed to the world until last night. The winner of this auction will be invited to the Formula 1 race of their choice and presented with their new car right there. Final price for the car in the auction run by Marsden and Longoria was a whopping $1.5 million (!)

I caught up with Longoria at the pre-reception to tell her how much I like her upcoming directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot. I reviewed it out of SXSW, but it is a really smart movie and, as I told her, I only wish it was in theaters as well as a history-making double launch on Disney + and Hulu. “We did have a qualifying run,” she told me. “But everyone seems to love it so I wish it was in theatres too. Here in Cannes we have been talking to people from everywhere, and the response it great. The Germans especially seem to love it.”

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Aston Martin and the Red Sea International Film Festival were the presenters of the Cannes Gala. The Signature Sponsor was Chopard, which donated a pair of Haute Joaillerie 18-karat white gold earrings set with pear-shaped emeralds weighing 9.77 carats and diamonds weighing 7.3 carats.

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Also on the block was a Damien Hirst painting of Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s been everywhere during Cannes due to the world premiere of his film Killers of the Flower Moon last weekend) and signed by Hirst and DiCaprio. The man himself, adorned in a baseball cap as usual, showed up late but just in time to see the painting of him go for a gargantuan $1.2 million.

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Also movie oriented was the auction of a stunning 80-inch Icosahedron from Anthony James — the only visual artist to have had his work displayed on seven continents — that was featured in the film Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. I thought this installation, sculpture or whatever you label it was spectacular and am a bit surprised it only went for for $250,000. Along with many other art works, a photographic supermodel portfolio and a weeklong getaway to Iceland, the bidding was generous in some cases but generally under what past years brought. All proceeds go to amFAR’s continued research for a cure to AIDS.

Eva Longoria (far right) and friends at amFAR gala in Cannes Pete Hammond/Deadline

A Gala Cannes regular, producer Gary Michael Walters, who used to be a sponsor when he was with Bold Films, told me he got frustrated sitting around and so now has a couple of films in production including one that is scheduled to wrap on June 30 — the day SAG/AFTRA’s deal expires, no coincidence. Walters quipped, “I am just waiting for an AI to ask me out to lunch!”

Even without the A (or AI)-list star power of past years, especially when Harvey Weinstein forced his stars to come, this was an impressive event, the tent particularly stunning from head to toe with its Michaelangelo-style ceiling reflecting the tables below. Nice.

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