To explain his modus operandi when it comes to raising money for the AIDS research foundation amfAR, producer and Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein turned to a quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Good can triumph over evil if the angels are as organized as the Mafia."
His strategy seems to have worked: Weinstein's raised $170 million for the group over the last 25 years, most of which came from coercing his coterie of supermodels and A-listers – up for auction one year, for example, was a chance to watch Naomi Campbell get dressed. If there are any hard feelings, though, they weren't apparent on Wednesday night, where he was the New York Gala's 2016 honoree: Among the donors and diners filling Cipriani Wall Street were Diane Kruger, Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Emily Ratajkowski, Jemima Kirke, and even Nicky and Paris Hilton.
“Jay, Bob, Leo – it’s a great turnout,” Weinstein told W, gesturing to the table where he was sitting with a handful of other heavy-hitters - Jay Z, Robert de Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
It wouldn’t be an amfAR Gala without the models, too, and even with the Saint Laurent show happening on the West coast, Karlie Kloss, Jourdan Dunn, Adriana Lima, Karolina Kurkova, and Chanel Iman were dutifully playing their parts.
“It's really a kickoff of fashion week,” said Heidi Klum, a seasoned supporter of both amfAR and Weinstein, who produces Project Runway. “I go to many different galas, I go to Milan and Cannes, and Harvey always makes sure that a lot of his actors and actresses come to the events, because it raises more awareness for the cause."
“I've been to I don't even know how many amfARs all over the cities,” echoed Coco Rocha. “Every city has its own specific way – Cannes is very French, and New York is very New York, but when it comes to bidding, they all outdo themselves every single time.”
Indeed, the night’s proceeds of $2.2 million dollars came in large part from the auction held between performances by Charli XCX and Icona Pop, with prizes like a year-long, bottle-of-Champagne-a-day plan presented by Ratajkowski, and a framed photo of Elizabeth Taylor flipping off the camera that went for $95,000.
DiCaprio paid just as much for a 10-day trip to Mongolia, a bidding battle evidently so stressful, he had to pause and find strength in his vape pen. The bets are still on for how many models he’ll fill the yurts with.