MILAN (AP) — Heidi Klum gently, but persistently cajoled her boyfriend Vito Schnabel buy her a giant plastic snail at the 7th annual Milan amfAR auction, nudging up the price of the sculpture and helping raise a Milan record of $1.6 million for the charity.
"Vito, I thought you were going to buy me the snail!" the model, who chaired the event, pleaded from stage Saturday night, as bidding heated up. A few bids later, the 29-year-old art dealer won the 3-meter (11-foot) snail by the Europe-based Cracking Art Group for 20,000 euro ($22,000). Klum, a mother of four, said she planned to put it in her garden.
The amfAR charity raises money for AIDS research, with the goal of finding a cure for AIDS by 2020. The organization's chairman Kenneth Cole told the crowd that the money raised at the auction would be used to set up an amfAR institute for the cure.
During a break in the auction, actress and model Dakota Johnson introduced Blondie singer Debbie Harry, calling her "my personal perception of cool."
Harry, looking fabulous in a snug black sequin dress and sunglasses with her trademark splash of blonde hair, asked if any of the tailors in the room could help her guitarist, who had ripped his pants. He lifted his leg gamely to show the tear.
As Harry, now 70, belted out "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me," some in the fashion crowd couldn't resist the beat and danced by their dinner tables.
"I have always supported amfAR from the very beginning. I think it is very worthwhile, they've had some tremendous success and the support and the feeling for it is wonderful," Harry told The Associated Press as she arrived.
Also during the auction, Goga Ashkenazi, who is reviving the historic Vionnet brand, paid 22,000 euros for a 1970 photograph of Debbie Harry, hair teased out and eyes upward against a red background, by rock photographer Mick Rock. The print was signed by both Rock and Harry. And Lapo Elkann, whose family controls Ferrari, apparently can't get enough of fast cars: He paid 75,000 euros to race a Ferrari and other high-performance cars in Las Vegas with actress Michelle Rodriquez.
Roberto Cavalli's new creative director, Peter Dundas, arrived with singer Ciara on his arm wearing one of his creations that had just made its runway debut hours before. Ciara did a few takes down the red carpet so photographers could catch the billowing effect of the open-front chiffon skirt with a Baroque big cat print, tied over a mini-skirt and coupled with a suede tank top.
She told the AP that she and Dundas have been long-time friends "so it is just really sweet to also be part of his journey so I feel awesome."