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Art Basel 2015

Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss among the stars to grace Hong Kong fundraiser

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 March, 2015, 3:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 March, 2015, 11:33am

Hollywood A-listers rubbed shoulders with local stars and socialites as the inaugural Hong Kong amfAR gala sought to raise funds for Aids research.

The event on March 14, at the famous Shaw Studios, was chaired by Pansy Ho Chiu-king, with stylish duo Wyman Wong Wai-manand Naomi Campbell, opened the show, and honorary chair Gwyneth Paltrow making an impassioned speech about the ongoing global fight against Aids.

"This is the first amfAR (Foundation for Aids Research) in Hong Kong," said Paltrow, dressed in a navy Marc Jacobs gown, "and it's long overdue."

"Since amfAR has worked with communities and colleagues across the Asian continent for many years, we thank you for welcoming us with open arms to your wonderful city. A global epidemic requires a global response," she added.

Guests for the fundraiser gala included heavy hitters of the business and entertainment world in Hong Kong, along with international names like Wendi Deng, Victoria Beckham, Kenneth Cole, Paris Hilton, Carina Lau Ka-ling and Kate Moss, alongside influential cultural figures David Tang and Larry Gagosian.

Actress Michelle Yeoh was honoured with an award for her longtime activism by Pansy Ho, who welcomed the international crowd to the city - "a place that I love, that has given me so much, as it has many others."

She said: "This dynamic city is well known for its entrepreneurial spirit, where the determined prosper, achieve, and also are very kind and generous.

"It's time for those of us in Hong Kong busy perusing our individual successes to be mindful and to lend a hand. Aids is still seen as a condition of shame with patients too often afraid to seek help, expert knowledge support and care, which is why we need an organization like amfAR."

The audience bid in an auction of artworks and experiences donated by sponsors, including a portrait of Kate Moss by street artist Mr. Brainwash, and a VIP trip to the Marc Jacobs show at New York Fashion Week. A bidding war erupted for a popular trip to join Leonardo DiCaprio's table at his charity gala this July in St Tropez, with four lots alone earning amfAR US$1 million.

Soon guests were rising from their seats to dance to a set by Robin Thicke. The singer ended with a performance of his and Pharrell Williams' controversial hit Blurred Lines, which was recently ruled to have infringed copyright on Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit Got to Give It Up. Williams and Thicke were ordered by LA courts to pay Gaye's family over US$7 million. But if that was a downer for the singer, it didn't show during this Hong Kong performance.

The amfAR event last night coincides with the city's major international art exhibition Art Basel, which was joined by satellite fair Art Central for the first time this year, bringing an edgier side and more galleries to the city for a weekend of culture.

The Tourism Board named March "art month" after Art Basel shifted its dates to earlier in the year to fall in line with the Hong Kong Arts Festival and Hong Kong International Film Festival.

A total of 233 galleries from 37 countries and territories are taking part in the international fair at the Wan Chai centre.

Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon spoke on the sidelines on Saturday after receiving the Liberatum Cultural Honour in partnership with Swire Properties on Friday for her outstanding contribution to cinema.

"When you say can we have it all, yeah you can have it all. You can't have it all perfectly," the outspoken actress said of combining motherhood and a career.

Art Central was launched by the former organisers of Art HK, which was acquired by Swiss fair Art Basel in 2011. About 65 per cent of the galleries are from Asia Pacific and 19 are local.

"[There are] more kids and more Hong Kong people, but Art Basel is normally expats or people from all around the world," said Yvonne Tse, 33, an art administrator visiting the show.

Art Basel runs until Tuesday.