By Mike Collett-White
MOUGINS, France (Reuters) – Madonna auctioned a “private concert” late on Thursday at a star-studded dinner, raising 350,000 euros (278,000 pounds) for AIDS charity amfAR.
The biggest lot on a night of conspicuous spending was a restored 1976 Porsche 911, which went for 500,000 euros after rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs stopped bidding at 450,000 euros.
A diamond-encrusted Christian Dior mobile phone also fetched 120,000 euros.
The annual Cinema Against AIDS gala, hosted by Sharon Stone, is one of the hottest tickets at the Cannes film festival each year, with hundreds of guests travelling to nearby Mougins for an auction dinner held in a giant marquee.
The rich and famous lined a packed red carpet on Thursday, including Madonna, Combs and Stone, actor Dennis Hopper, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and actress Natalie Portman.
“I hope we all leave a little poorer,” said amfAR chairman Kenneth Cole in his opening speech.
He need not have worried, with the cheapest seats going for around $4,000 each, rising to $15,000 for seats nearer the stage. The overall tally for the night was over $10 million.
Stone, who having just turned 50 called it her “birthday amfAR”, showed clips of her travels around the world raising funds for the charity, while Madonna, 49, was in Cannes to promote her documentary about Malawi children orphaned by AIDS.
In what the Cannes media dubbed the “battle of the blondes”, the two stars shared the stage and engaged in friendly banter.
“I don’t say this about many people, but you’re a hard act to follow,” Madonna said. She described co-host Weinstein as “possibly one of the most, I won’t say irritating, but unstoppable human beings I know.”
“DON’T HUMILIATE ME”
Madonna offered to sing two songs backstage during her upcoming tour to two “very lucky people”.
“People have offered me millions to play at their Bar Mitzvahs,” Madonna joked after making the offer. When the bidding stalled at 300,000 euros, she added “Don’t humiliate me,” before leaving the stage.
Combs auctioned 24 hours in his company, promising: “I will fulfil your wildest dreams for amfAR and the children,” and “I will wake up with you.” The winning bid was 200,000 euros.
Weinstein could not resist lobbying at least two Cannes jury members in the audience to vote for Steven Soderbergh’s competition entry “Che” as the festival headed towards its final awards ceremony on Sunday.
“If you haven’t seen ‘Che Guevara’ you haven’t seen a masterpiece. If that hasn’t worked there will be cash on the way out.”