SEAN PENN’S HAITIAN RELIEF BENEFIT GALA @MILK STUDIOS LOS ANGELES
1/6/2018 BY WILLIAM DERHAM
The seventh annual benefit for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, hosted by Sean Penn, brought out many of Hollywood’s A-List to raise money and awareness for the devastating earthquake the country suffered in 2010. The $5,000 a plate soirée was held at the sumptuous environs of Milk Photography Studios. Leonardo DiCaprio was the guest of honor on Saturday night which raised nearly $4 million for Penn’s Haitian Relief Organization and its nonprofit partners.
DiCaprio was recognized for 20 years of supporting environmental causes through his namesake foundation. “As much as anyone, the inspiration for me was from Leo DiCaprio,” Penn said. “Here was this young guy who had not only continued to create so productively but had also created what takes a kind of Herculean effort.”
Penn praised DiCaprio’s personal commitment to protecting wildlife and advocating for the planet, as well as the actor’s general optimism. Tom Steyer introduced DiCaprio but not until after Penn jokingly introduced Steyer, the founder of a campaign to impeach President Trump, as having “…the great honor and enviable distinction of having been labeled wacky and unhinged by the president of the United States.”
DiCaprio also supported Penn’s cause by bidding $80,000 on a painting during a live auction. “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke had her eye on the same piece and ultimately outbid the Oscar winner before the artist who made the painting revealed two copies were available. Clarke and DiCaprio each got their own for $80,000 each.
He criticized the U.S. government’s proposed increase in offshore drilling and rollbacks of solutions to help the environment. “Their denial of so much of the scientific proof and evidence belongs in ‘the Earth is flat’ chapter of human history, and this administration will be judged accordingly in the future.”Standing beside the podium with Penn, Haitian American actress Garcelle Beauvais didn’t hesitate to name names as she asked people to give from their heart during the night’s second auction. “If you have a lot, give a lot…,” Beauvais said, directing focus to “Brad Pitt.”
Her prodding seemed to work on Pitt as he joined in bidding $60,000 on a painting, but Arnold Schwarzenegger outbid him offering $70,000. He also bid $120,000 to watch HBO’s “Game of Thrones” with cast members Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, also in attendance at the gala (but was again outbid). Pitt was successful on another lot, though: an exclusive experience with the San Antonio Spurs, which he scored for $40,000. I can’t help but wonder what comic David Spade was sharing with Mr. Pitt on his numerous visits to Brad’s table, kneeling next to him and speaking in confidence.
Other items up for auction included a private dinner with chef Jose Andres and journalist Anderson Cooper, which sold for $50,000, and Madonna’s dress, only one of eight from her $170,000,000 grossing “Rebel Heart” tour, adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals that fetched $45,000. The most expensive item auctioned was a painting by Urs Fisher that sold for $1.5 million.
The star studded affair included attendees Casey Affleck, Susan Sarandon, Roma Downey and hubby Mark Burnett, Tobey Maguire, Patricia Arquette, Kit Harrington, Lena Dunham, Zachary Quinto, Connie Britton, Willem Dafoe, Allison Williams, Beck, Colbie Caillat, Jason Segel, Napster’s Sean Parker, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Entertainment was provided by celebrated ballerinas Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova who performed solos, actress and dancer Sofia Boutella did a routine directed by Madonna, and singer-songwriter James Taylor closed the evening with a heartfelt nine-song set.
J.T.’s SET LIST
SWEET BABY JAMES
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND
UP ON THE ROOF
SHOWER THE PEOPLE
HOW SWEET IT IS