Queen Latifah and Leonardo DiCaprio Raised $17 million at This Year’s amfAR Cannes Gala


As the sun slipped away into the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, the unmistakable sound of stilettos on gravel could be heard echoing down the promenade of Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. With a harbor full of hulking yachts (most notably James Packer’s 108-meter Azimut Benetti vessel rumored to be hosting Leonardo DiCaprio) and a view framed by twisting Aleppo pine trees, the amfAR Cannes gala unfolded in an expectedly fabulous fashion.

While the roving fundraising galas pop up throughout the year in Palm Beach, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Venice, this celebration is on the heels of the Cannes Film Festival and might as well be amfAR’s Super Bowl in raising funds and awareness for finding a cure to HIV and AIDS. Last night, a whopping $17 million was raised, beginning with cocktails, naturally, during which the evening’s sponsors—Chopard, Aston Martin, and Red Sea International Film Festival—displayed their wares among the artworks that would be up for auction later in the evening. Swanning through the crowd of 850 guests in layers of taffeta and tulle and feathers and rhinestones were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebel Wilson, Eva Longoria, Kate Beckinsale, Fan Bing Bing, Teyana Taylor, and Heidi Klum, along with Ashley Graham, in disguise under a large Nina Ricci chapeau. Graham was one of a handful of partygoers who were swept away from the festivities for an outfit change at the behest of Carine Roitfeld for her mid-gala fashion show auction item.

Shortly after, when guests took their seats for dinner at tables replete with orchids, many a bottle of Champagne on ice, and no less than five pieces of stemware per person, they were welcomed by an homage to amfAR founder Elizabeth Taylor and a troupe of “supers” including Helena Christensen, Carmen Kass, Caroline Trentini, Alek Wek, and Guinevere van Seenus, all emerging from a spiral staircase and stomping down a mirrored runway that snaked through the dining room. The collection of 18 vintage looks sourced by Roitfeld from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Richard Quinn, and Chanel, one more embellished than the next and glistening beneath the room’s mirrored ceiling, would later sell for a cool $600,000.

Led by auctioneer extraordinaire Simon de Pury and the evening’s master of ceremonies, Queen Latifah, the lots also included artworks by Claire Tabouret, Andres Valencia, Robert DeNiro, and a portrait of Monsieur DiCaprio by Damien Hirst, which sold for €1.2 million and a heavy dose of irony as the actor himself sat in the crowd, sporting a baseball cap.

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