Cannes: Star-Studded AmfAR Fundraiser Brings in Record $35 Million

Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

The 21st edition of the AIDS research foundation's gala, hosted by Sharon Stone, drew such big names as Jessica Chastain, Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard.

AIDS research foundation amfAR turned 21 Thursday night, and Hollywood turned out to celebrate in Cannes, bringing in a fundraising record for the event.

Even jurors Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal took a much-needed night off from the festival.

"We've only been watching movies, I've barely been out," said Bernal. "But what went on in there, I can't talk about, I'm sworn to secrecy." With a little prompting, he did reveal his favorite of the week: "I'll tell you, it's Texas Chainsaw Massacre," he joked. The film was screening in a restored version in a sidebar of the festival.

Jessica Chastain said she hoped to top the $25 million raised last year. "I hope everyone has champagne in hand and their wallets open," she said.

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In the end, the event raised a record-breaking $35 million for AIDS research. Much of that can be credited to a gold-plated woolly mammoth skeleton by Damien Hirst (or rather a team of artisans that actually did the plating) that went for $15 million (€11 million). An Andy Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe and a Picasso sketch were other big-ticket items; the Picasso eventually went for $518,000 (€380,000).

The Red Dress Collection fashion show, curated by French editor Carine Roitfeld, brought out supermodels Karlie Kloss, Karolina Kurkova, and Saskia de Brauw. After they walked the runway, the collection, Including pieces from Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Dior, Armani, Gucci, Givenchy, Prada and Tom Ford, sold for $6.8 million (€5 million).

Host Sharon Stone said that she was sending Leonardo DiCaprio on a "trip to the moon," but it turned out it was the last ticket for a Virgin Galatic flight with DiCaprio that went for $1.36 million (€1 million).

Stone, ever the energetic fundraiser, got teary eyed speaking during the cocktail arrivals.

"My strategy is to speak to people from the heart. There's no secret to it. I am lifted by your love," she told THR when asked how she gets guests to open their wallets. "We're like a family at amfAR now. Every one of us is so deeply and profoundly invested in what we are doing."

The night's entertainment was provided by Andrea Bocelli (who sang an Italian operatic version of Frank Sinatra's I Did It My Way) and Robin Thicke. Thicke again laid it on thick with his public pleas for estranged wife Paula Patton to come back to him before singing Get Her Back.

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Kylie Minogue, who was hauled up on stage for a song by Stone a few years back at the event, said she hopes someday to perform at the fundraiser. "I was roped in to getting up on stage between Sharon and Harvey Weinstein, which was a lot of fun, but I'd love to perform here one year and do it properly," she said. Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, who performed last year, stopped in for the afterparty.

Chastain got giddy when she realized John Travolta was standing next to her. "I mean Grease, it's huge for me," she said. Travolta and wife Kelly Preston flew in to Cannes' private airport on one of their jets for a few days in the south of France. Tonight's Quentin Tarantino tribute prompted a fashion debate for Preston: "It's on the beach, do women wear heels? Heels, no heels? I don't know."

Justin Beiber, making his third Hotel du Cap party appearance of the week, Marion Cotillard, Catherine Deneuve, Jane Fonda, Kellan Lutz, and Michelle Rodriguez were also in attendance.

Adrien Brody, who has attended the event for years, tried to stay focused. "They do a tremendous job of raising much-needed funds for research, and that's the objective here aside from all the glamour," he said. "But every night is like this to some extent, this is what Cannes is about." Still he made sure his next day's lunch wasn't too early, refusing to be anywhere before noon. It was probably a smart move, as the afterparty in the hotel's cliffside poolhouse went until 5 a.m.