By Robin Pomeroy
CAP D’ANTIBES, France (Reuters) – Stars, models and the super-rich gathered on the French Riviera on Thursday for a charity dinner considered the most glamorous night of the Cannes Film Festival, but there was one notable absence: Harvey Weinstein.
Until this year, the movie mogul rarely missed the AmfAR dinner, put on by the U.S.-based Foundation For AIDS Research.
Weinstein’s representatives did not comment directly on his absence. But they said he had helped the event collect more than $170 million over the years and would “continue to quietly be supportive and passionate for AmfAR.”
Hollywood Reporter called him the event’s former “driving force,” bringing A-list talent to the dinner where an auction of artwork, fashion and elite experiences raises millions of dollars for AIDS research.
Weinstein was brought down last year by scandal. More than 70 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape, and he has vanished from public view. Weinstein has denied engaging in nonconsensual sex.
The accusations gave rise to the international Me Too movement that sparked the downfall of other prominent men in entertainment and politics.
The AIDS fundraiser faced “a critical test for its viability,” Hollywood Reporter said in an article, suggesting it had become tainted by the scandal due to Weinstein’s former involvement.
With super-yachts moored nearby, the party took place as usual in a marquee on the grounds of the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, an exclusive hotel on the Cap d’Antibes jutting into the Mediterranean along the coast from Cannes.
Asked whether the event had been damaged by the Weinstein scandal, guests said that must not be allowed to happen.
“You’re going to literally sacrifice raising money for AIDS victims in the name of some dude and his bad habits?” said American actress Michelle Rodriguez.
Socialite Paris Hilton applauded the increased awareness of women’s rights since the scandal broke:
“I just have so much respect for so many of the women, and everyone, really sticking together and coming together to really make a big statement. And, a lot of people are not going to be taken advantage of ever again because people are making a huge difference right now.”
As guests sipped champagne, music was provided by, among others, Sting and Shaggy – performing duets of reggae numbers and The Police hit “Every Breath You Take”.
“Tonight’s event is going to be just as exciting and entertaining as always while raising critical funds for AIDS Research,” amfAR said ahead of the event.
The auction started with a replica of the Palme d’Or trophy that will be awarded at the film festival on Saturday. Bidding started at 20,000 euros, and it sold for 220,000.
An array of 31 haute couture dresses fetched 1.3 million euros.
Former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan looked amazed as bids mounted for a painting he had done of Bob Dylan. At 1.2 million pounds, the portrait sold for more than double the price of a sculpture by Ai Weiwei, “Iron Root,” which raised 550,000 euros.
Included in the price was a lunch with Brosnan – in London, New York or Los Angeles.
Stars have often in the past offered themselves for auction. Last year David Beckham raised 350,000 euros ($415,000) for a chance to play soccer with him.
Another year George Clooney auctioned a kiss for $350,000 and, in 2008, Weinstein joked he might put himself up for bids, but added: “No one would pay for me”.
(Reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Alison Williams, Andrew Heavens and Cynthia Osterman)