AmfAR heads to Billionaires Row in Palm Beach

Charity group amfAR usually holds a gala during New York Fashion Week in February, but that was scrapped because of the Omicron variant....


Charity group amfAR usually holds a gala during New York Fashion Week in February, but that was scrapped because of the Omicron variant. So when art collectors John and Amy Phelan offered to host a fundraiser at their modern 17,000 square foot estate in Palm Beach, Florida last Saturday, the money followed.

And their neighbors on South Ocean Boulevard too. With several guests living on what is called Billionaires Row, the fundraiser felt almost like a block party.

“You have Stephen Schwarzman, John Paulson and Willis Dupont,” Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, who arrived for a cocktail party around 7 p.m., dressed in a blue velvet tuxedo jacket with no tie. “We’re all here and it’s time to dress up.”

Another neighbor, Tommy Hilfiger, was the winner of the evening. “I know who you are,” Mr. Hilfiger told interior designer Victoria Hagan, as if standing on the other side of a picket fence. “I tried to get you to make one of my houses.” In his slim houndstooth suit, he cuddled with neighbors, including Dennis Basso, the old-school furrier, and Douglas Friedman, the tattooed photographer.

Around 375 guests each paid $5,000 to attend, raising around $5.3 million that night – not bad for amfAR’s first foray into Palm Beach.

Ms. Phelan, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who chairs various art boards and whose husband is an investment fund manager, held court in her living room with windows that soared to almost 30 feet high. A work by Willem de Kooning adorned the gas fireplace mantle. Other top performers caught the eye and Ms Phelan, in a gold dress that made her look like an Oscar statue, was on a first name basis with some of them.

“I love Andy and I love Dolly,” she said of a candy-colored portrait of Dolly Parton by Andy Warhol, which hangs next to a monumental painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Some guests — who decked themselves out in vibrant colors, aggressive patterns, velvet slippers and stiletto heels — were smitten with the art. “I hope it’s a slumber party,” said Emily Hampshire, the ‘Schitt’s Creek’ actress and event emcee, as she precariously lounged in a vintage green Dior pantsuit on a bust of Jeff Koons. “I’m ready to move in.”

Outside by the pool, canapes of lobster, steak and tuna tartare flew like petals in a subtropical wind. Around 8 p.m., dinner was announced and the crowd walked through strips of multicolored fabric, like inside a car wash, entering a giant tent framed in pink Lilly Pulitzer neon lights that flashed “Art” and ” Party”.

Guests dined on a chopped Mediterranean salad and chicken with heirloom roasted vegetables. They listened carefully to speeches about how Covid treatments have benefited from HIV research. They listened less attentively to Simon de Pury, who auctioned off works by Gilbert & George, Tom Sachs and others (crypto accepted).

At around 10 p.m., fellow neighbor Sylvester Stallone took the stage in all black to introduce Mr Hilfiger, who said “Thank you, Sly”, before thanking friends and neighbors. “It’s unreal to me,” he concluded.

Then Christina Aguilera took the stage in a flurry of glittering purple confetti, complete with chandelier-sized earrings, and ended the night with three songs.

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Newsrust - US Top News: AmfAR heads to Billionaires Row in Palm Beach
AmfAR heads to Billionaires Row in Palm Beach
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