Victoria Beckham and Uma Thurman add their shine to Aids charity’s expanding power

UPDATE: Amfar’s glitzy night offers Warhol and Tracey Emin works, and raises US$4 million to fight the disease

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 12:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 March, 2016, 5:46pm

The rich, the famous and the beautiful descended upon Shaw Studios on Saturday evening for a glitzy, coveted party: the American Foundation of Aids Research (Amfar) charity gala.

Lulled by Lang Lang on the piano, philanthropists mingled with Uma Thurman, Victoria Beckham, Adrien Brody and scores of other celebrities while star auctioneer Simon de Pury urged them to bid generously for artwork that included a neon work by Tracey Emin – who was also there – and photographs of Andy Warhol taken in Hong Kong.

Kevin Frost, chief executive officer, had hoped that selling 200 more tickets this time would help raise more money in the auction. But by the end of the evening, the final tally was around US$4 million, the same as last year. It was still double the amount reached in its February New York gala, attended by Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. The Warhol photographs fetched US$190,000 while Emin's I Fell in Love Here was sold for US$120,000.

At 6.30pm, guests started arriving at the Shaw Studios in Tseung Kwan O to take their seats at tables that cost up to HK$500,000.

Thurman looked elegant in a simple black dress. A willowy Beckham almost smiled, abandoning her signature pout for the cameras after a particularly successful week in Hong Kong.

The gala gave the former Spice Girl a special award to recognise her charity work and she had just opened her first overseas boutique at Landmark.

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Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez said she believed in raising awareness of the need to find an Aids cure, which she hoped could lead to revelations about curing other viruses.

Hollywood star Brody, who has taken a year off acting to paint full time, said ahead of the auction that he hoped his artwork featuring a dragon would fetch a good price.

Other familiar faces included Wendi Deng, super model Karolina Kurkova and organiser Pansy Ho. Rimsky Yuen was also among the guests.

The sold-out event, timed to coincide with Art Basel week, is evidence of Amfar’s pulling power to tap new patrons globally.

Co-founded in 1986 by Elizabeth Taylor after her close friend Rock Hudson died of Aids, the organisation can rally more big names than any local charity balls.

Around 60 per cent of Amfar’s revenue comes from galas. In 2014, according to its most recent annual report, it raised a total of US$28.9 million from special events, money that it uses to search for an Aids cure and to provide medication, education and prevention around the world.