On Wednesday night, stars and philanthropists gathered at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 15th annual An Enduring Vision Benefit Gala in N.Y.C.’s Cipriani Wall Street to support a good cause, raise awareness for the disease, and of course, donate funds to the worthy foundation.
The event, sponsored by Clase Azul Tequila and Chopin Vodka, raised more than $3.15 million for the foundation. It was hosted by Andy Cohen and saw attendees like Padma Lakshmi, Alan Cumming, David Burtka, and Matthew Morrison.
Hosting the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala tonight. I have a hot date (Padma) AND Sir Elton has bedazzled Gucci shoulders – what could be better? #NYC
So this was clearly BEFORE I split my dress tonight! AND let’s hear it for some back cleavage, am I right ladies? Luckily you can’t see it here!!!#toomanysamosas
Soicando caught up with Sir Elton John himself, clad in a custom Gucci suit and Bulgari jewelry, who told us about how he started the foundation 25 years ago. “I lost so many friends in the early days. So when I got sober I thought, I’ve got to give something back,” he said. “We formed the foundation the year after I got sober … We started off at a little kitchen table, two people in Atlanta and one person in Los Angeles. We’ve kept it small, lean, and mean so that the money gets to the people who need it.”
“Always try and give something back,” he said of the best way to get involved in any charity organization. “No matter whether it’s money, the best thing you can give is your time.”
Jeffrey Tambor of Transparent also made an appearance at the event after asking John and his husband David Furnish how he could get involved in the foundation a year ago. “When I first started out in New York, the AIDS epidemic, was unknown … a lot of my friends in the theater, a lot of my actor friends were dying,” he said of why the cause means so much to him. “My take on this whole is that people think, ‘Oh I thought AIDS was cured,’ it’s not cured,” he added. “They’re still doing research, and … it takes money” to get the research to where it needs to be.
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We also spoke with Daniel Paltridge, North American president of Bulgari, who donated a piece of fine jewelry to the auction that night. “This is the first year of our partnership with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, it was something that was very dear to our heart.” The brand spoke with John last year about a partnership, and the team made it happen at this year’s gala. “We’re a 135-year-old company, but being in the luxury world, it’s all about finding great philanthropic efforts to give back,” he said. “We have a partnership with Save the Children and now we have the AIDS Foundation, and both of those things dovetail quite well together.”
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Later that night, the gala honored Frank Giustra, Steve Tisch, and UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon for their incredible philanthropic efforts to raise awareness and raise money for the cause. The event was also sponsored by Clase Azul Tequila and Chopin Vodka.