Leonardo DiCaprio Wins Big at Haiti Rising Gala Auction
Hollywood’s finest turned out to lend their support to the Sean Penn & Friends Haiti Rising gala on Saturday. And the results? Staggering.
The fundraiser, held at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, drew in $37 million—via a live auction and financial pledges from entities that ranged from The Parker Foundation to the Government of France and World Bank.
The evening benefitted J/P Haitian Relief Organization, a nonprofit that works to "save lives and build sustainable programs" in Haiti—intiatives that became even more crucial following the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The work is close to the hearts of the many star attendees, which included everyone from Leonardo Dicaprio and Jason Segel to the ever-fashionable Diane Kruger and Garcelle Beauvais (below).
Nashville star Connie Britton stunned alongside Sophia Bush, who expressed why J/P HRO's work is so special to her. “We were just talking about how incredibly important it is to continue doing the work after disasters have left the news cycle. The people in Haiti are still suffering, and it’s up to us to keep committed.”
Penn took to the stage and explained how he has witnessed the gala, J/P HRO, and Haiti's needs evolved through the years. Nick Jonas also gave a speech and helped host Bill Maher with emceeing during the night. "I bet we could auction off a Jonas Brothers reunion. That might go well," Jonas joked to the audience. But the singer wasn't all laughs his entire time at the microphone. He shared a little first-hand insight as a person who has struggled with health issues since he was a teen.
"As someone living with type one diabetes since the age of 13, I understand firsthand not only the importance of education, also the critical nature of access," he shared. "I was shocked when I saw some of the numbers, of lives lost while living with diabetes, specifically in Haiti."
Once the auction started, a low-key DiCaprio made bids on many of the items, including Julia Roberts and Danny Moder’s 1967 Land Cruiser. Ultimately, the Oscar winner took home one of the biggest lots of the evening—a custom piece of artwork commissioned by Ed Ruscha—for a whopping $125,000.
The star-studded festivities also featured an appearance by David Blaine, who blew the crowd away with his illusions and a surprise live performance by Beck.