Star power dims at post-Weinstein Cannes AIDS gala

Cannes (France) (AFP) –


The downfall of Harvey Weinstein weighed heavily on the most glamorous party of the Cannes film festival Thursday, with many A-listers ducking out of an AIDS benefit gala with which he was closely associated.

The American Foundation for AIDS Research Foundation (amFAR) charity dinner at the exclusive Eden Roc hotel at Cap d'Antibes, near Cannes, is the social highlight of the festival.

A host of celebrities, including Kristen Stewart, Adrien Brody, Benicio Del Toro and singers Sting and Shaggy attended the 25th edition of the glittering party which raised millions for AIDS research.

"This is the hottest ticket in town," amFAR's interim chairman Bill Roedy, former CEO of MTV, insisted, adding that the more than 210 million dollars raised over the course of the charity's existence had made a significant contribution to fighting HIV/AIDS.

But the event behind which Harvey Weinstein was a major driving force was significantly less starry than in previous years, when Leonardo DiCaprio and Sharon Stone were regular attendees.

Film director Ava DuVernay, who is on this year's Cannes Jury, and actress and model Milla Jovovich hosted the gala, which was founded by the late Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor.

The guests, who included supermodel Heidi Klum, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton and Louis Vuitton's new menswear designer Virgil Abloh, rocked and swayed to reggae-pop tunes from the new duo formed by rocker Sting and Shaggy.

But it was the flamboyant Grace Jones, who turns 70 Saturday, who stole the show with Edith Piaf's La Vie En Rose, which she performed in a leotard, jacket and sequined red hat.

"Let's not forget Liz Taylor and cure this thing," the singer urged.

British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding and American hip-hop artist Jason Derulo also provided entertainment for around 800 guests, some of whom dug deep for the charity auction.

Actor Pierce Brosnan sold a painting he made of Bob Dylan for 1.2 million euros to a female fan, to whom he also offered a private lunch.

- Diamond-encrusted iPhones -

A 1964 Bentley S series convertible auctioned by Heidi Klum and Benicio Del Toro fetched 700,000 euros.

And a set of two diamond-encrusted gold iPhone X offered by socialite Paris Hilton brought in 200,000 euros, after she threw in an evening for 50 at one of her two "Club Paris" in-home nightclubs in New York or Los Angeles.

But the biggest amount -- 1.6 million euros -- went for a collection of designer dresses modelled by a bevy of catwalk stars.

A bidding war erupted after the models offered to each bestow a kiss on the winner, with the male victor taking to the stage straight afterwards to claim his prize.

AmFAR was further hit by controversy last year following reports that Weinstein channelled 600,000 dollars from its coffers to his investors.

The foundation's longtime chairman, shoe designer Kenneth Cole, resigned in the wake of the allegations.

The final figure from this year's auction will be released later on Friday.