Around 300 people in their evening finest showed up Friday at Rio de Janeiro's stately Copacabana Palace hotel for the $2,500-a-plate black tie gala organized by the international nonprofit organization amfAR. The AIDS research foundation hosts some of the world's most glamorous events, including the annual dinner during the Cannes Film Festival that's become a virtual Who's Who of the movie business.
This was the organization's first event in Rio, which is in the midst of its own film festival, and Brazilian celebrities were out in force. In addition to the gaggle of lanky models who towered over the rest of the crowd, there were designers including bikini queen Lenny Niemeyer, socialite Andrea Dellal and her daughter, punky model Alice Dellal, as well as several of the country's top soap opera actresses.
Hawn lavished praise on Rio, calling its residents "so kind and wonderful," and promised to return soon. In the meanwhile, the Academy Award-winning actress exhorted the crowd to bid generously at the auction.
"It's great to help and it's great to have fun," she said, adding that attendees should drink more Champagne to get the generosity flowing.
Over plates of filet mignon, attendees bid on seven lots that included a trip for two to a French chateau owned by the family behind Moet & Chandon Champagne, complete with a visit to the French Open and a gold-leaf covered magnum of bubbly. The package fetched $30,000.
A sepia print by Romanian-born photographer Roberto Dutesco went for $34,000, while a piece by Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto fetched $35,000. But the lots that elicited the most excitement among the crowd involved high-wattage jewelry. A pair of hoop earrings by Brazilian designer Carla Amorim embellished with more than eight carats worth of emeralds went for $30,000, and a pair of Jack Vartanian diamond studs totaling nearly four carats touched off a bidding war, finally fetching $35,000.
The exact amount raised at Friday's gala was not immediately released, but Brazilian news reports put it at around $1 million.