Last night in the Mediterranean summer hot spot of Saint Tropez, France, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation rolled out the red carpet to host its first ever gala, in an effort to raise funds to combat the degradation of the environment.
Speaking impassionedly before his guests, DiCaprio stated, “Today we stand at the 11th Hour—facing a tipping point of environmental crises unprecedented in human history. Not since the age of the dinosaurs have so many species of plants and animals become extinct in such a short period of time. We must now make an effort to protect the rich biodiversity that could allow nature to eventually recover.”
As a precedent for the evening’s auction, DiCaprio himself donated US $7 million towards ocean conservation projects early last month.
No celebrity charity event is complete without Bono, who took to the stage with Julian Lennon, the son of the late John Lennon, to motivate donors with their own rendition of the 1960s classic, Stand By Me. Bono went on to auction off his personal guitar for US $1 million. Also up for auction was DiCaprio’s own Harley-Davidson motorcycle on which he scrolled his autograph, next to the signatures of Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro. Some hopeful fans bid a total of US $2.4 million to have a walk-in role in one of DiCaprio’s future films. An auction wouldn’t be complete without art and a Picasso drawing was being picked up for US $1 million while the night’s highest bid, the “Golden Myth,” a sculpture by Damien Hirst, went for US $6 million.
On hand to motivate guests to empty their pockets for the good cause were Marion Cotillard, Jared Leto, and Philip Cousteau, son of the late, great conservationist, Jack Cousteau. Also seen chatting it up at tables were Natasha Poly, Petra Nemcomva, Selena Gomez, and Cara Delevingne; surprisingly, apart from Delevingne and DiCaprio’s girlfriend Toni Garrn, no other Victoria’s Secret models were in attendance. By the end of the night, US $25 million was raised for DiCaprio’s foundation, which focuses on protecting biodiversity, ocean and forest conservation, and targeting the issue of climate change. The Foundation aims consist of creating media campaigns to get us all inspired and aware of the need for environmental protection, as well as funding initiatives for projects that seek to stop the further degradation of the environment.
Once the altruistic euphoria settled and tax breaks were assured, guests partied into the night to sounds of Paul Oakenfold, Robin Thicke, DJ Jack E, and DJ Smash.
While you might not have made it on the gala’s guest list, that doesn’t mean that efforts can’t be made in our own backyard. There are local initiatives such as the UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and building projects that follow sustainable guidelines, which all aim to protect our environment and are open to your participation.