Madonna Reunites with Sean Penn at Help Haiti Home: “I Still Love You, Just the Same”
You never know what will happen next when you spend the night in the presence of Sean Penn. Or at least that was the case at last night’s 5th annual Help Haiti Home Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif. Just hours after the news of Penn’s shocking secret interview with Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo made headlines around the world, the star was focused on another international cause: his annual gala to raise money for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (jphro.org), a charity that brings sustainable programs to the people of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake that forever changed their communities.
Hosted by Anderson Cooper, Hollywood’s biggest names were on hand at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills to lend their support on the eve of the Golden Globes, from Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo to Jason Segal and Justin Bieber. But it was the presence of one guest in particular who truly made the night a special for attendees: Penn’s former wife, Madonna. The two began the night by walking the red carpet with Madonna's two children, David Banda and Mercy James. Later, after delivering a passionate and tearful speech about his work in Haiti, Penn told the audience that he was going to lighten things up a bit. And what better way to do that than by inviting the Queen of Pop on stage?
“I’m gonna get on one knee and I’m gonna look at a ukulele,” he said. “And I’m gonna say to an Italian chick from Michigan: ‘Will ya?’” Guests began to cheer as they realized that Madonna was about to treat them to a private performance. “Welcome to my show,” she joked, before explaining why the night’s cause has become so personally important to her. “I had the privilege of going to Haiti with Sean two years ago with my son Rocco, and we had such an amazing adventure,” she said. While praising Penn for the “incredible organization” that he’s created, things took a more emotional turn. “I’m so proud to know you,” Madonna told Penn. “I want to say, Sean, that I love you, from the moment that I laid eyes on you. And I still love you, just the same.”
After her (romantic?) speech, Madonna revealed that her performance of the night was going to be low-key. “I’m going to sing a little French song on my little ukulele,” she said before launching into “La Vie en Rose.” She encouraged the audience to sing along—and towards the end, the whole room was humming along to the melody. When the song ended, Justin Bieber was the first in the room to jump out of his seat and give Madonna a standing ovation. But the iconic singer's contributions to the night didn’t end there. Spur of the moment, she also decided to auction off the very ukulele on which she performed, and she promised to include “a surprise” inside for the highest bidder when they receive the instrument after she’s done playing it on her Rebel Heart tour in March.
Madonna wasn’t the only A-list attendee to auction off something major. It’s no surprise that Leonardo DiCaprio also went above and beyond do some good. The activist, who's nominated for the Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, Golden Globe Award for his role in The Revenant, offered to have lunch with one lucky bidder, plus they’d get to spend five nights at his Palm Springs house (unfortunately for them, it doesn’t seem like the star is included in the auction lot). And his charitable contributions didn’t stop there. DiCaprio bid on, and won, Bono’s famous “Irish Falcon” guitar.
Although DiCaprio didn’t give us a sneak peek of his shredding skills, there was still one musical treat left for guests to enjoy before they headed out: a live performance by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Click the photo above to scroll through the gallery of Golden Globes weekend's best parties.