There was Gatsby. At 11:30 p.m. at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, the amfAR Cannes gala quietly welcomed one of the biggest movie stars in the world to a tent off the Mediterranean Sea.
Leonardo DiCaprio had been missing for several years at the glitzy charity auction that marks the end of partying at the Cannes Film Festival, but this year, he not only stopped by, he brought a date — his mom, Irmelin Indenbirken.
At Table 15, near the stage where celebrities tried to wrangle nepo babies and oligarchs for hundreds of thousands of dollars for lavish pieces of arts, vacations and even a car, DiCaprio tried to go incognito (as if that was possible). He wore a baseball cap to the black-tie dinner and kept his head down. (Though baseball caps are part of DiCaprio’s typical uniform, this festival, he’s been all over Cannes, sans hat, for the premiere of his film, “Killers of the Flower Moon.”)
DiCaprio’s pal Tobey Maguire — dressed in a mishmash of a black suit, gold chain and sneakers with brown soles — kept pacing around the tent. Didn’t he have a seat?
But back to Table 15. DiCaprio seemed to enjoy himself, whispering to his mom and applauding for the musical acts, including the night’s headliner, Halsey. But he disappeared during one of the biggest moments of the dinner, in yet another effort not to draw any attention to himself.
At just after midnight, the charity devoted to raising money for AIDS research unveiled a one-of-a-kind portrait of DiCaprio by Damien Hirst, commissioned in 2016 for the Oscar-winning actor. It had been auctioned off one time before, and the private art collector who owned it had donated it back to amfAR, so someone else could hang a picture of Leo in their living room. As the painting was hauled onstage and the bids flew, Leo’s mom stood up with her phone to capture all the rich people fighting over a portrait of her son. She looked ecstatic as the final bid was called — for $1.3 million.
amfAR Cannes used to draw star power from the world’s most glamorous film festival in the South of France. But in recent years, it’s been slowed down by a series of scandals and COVID-19. Queen Latifah emceed this year’s gathering, with assistance from charity auctioneer Simon de Pury who pounded his gavel as thousands of guests spoke over him. DiCaprio aside, the celebrities in attendance ranged from Alex Pettyfer to Heidi Klum. “No one good is here!” grumbled one guest.
Eva Longoria and James Marsden proved to be two of the more successful presenters, as they helped pump up the bidding for a new Aston Martin sportscar that fetched $1.6 million. Other items that sold with big bids: a pair of white-gold earrings from Chopard ($300,000); a collection of 18 gowns from fashion’s biggest designers — Versace, Prada, Chanel, Balmain, Dior, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and more — presented in a runway show (a mere $650,000 for a whole new closet); and a stainless steel glass sculpture by artist Anthony James that was featured in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” ($270,000).
The evening began with a performance from Gladys Knight belting out “Midnight Train to Georgia,” flanked by a trio of backup singers (yes, she hit all the high notes). Adam Lambert, who donned a sparkling black tuxedo, dedicated the Queen song “Who Wants to Live Forever” to the memory of Tina Turner. The night ended with Halsey performing a few songs — including her signature hit “Without Me” — in a black jumpsuit with a circle of roses across her chest.
Then hundreds of women in ballgowns scurried down a hill to the hotel’s restaurant for the after-party. But a shortage of food led guests to try to break as a manager pushed them back — saying the French Fries were for room service orders only.
Leo and Tobey held court in the VIP area outside by the pool. At 1:30 a.m., Leo left with his entourage, including his mom. He gently patted her shoulder on their way out. With “Flower Moon,” DiCaprio will soon be gearing up for a long road to the Oscars. But at Cannes, he already won the prize of “best movie star son.”