Over-the-top and over here

7 09 2009

American-style conspicuous giving finally arrived in the UK on 5 May this year. Apologies for taking so long to find out.

The country saw the first jetset-class charity auction to rake in serious money, in the same way that charity auctions around the US regularly bring in millions, with the compère haranguing tables of millionaires for not giving enough (though I can’t find out if the latter actually happened at this event).

The event opened with the appearance of the Sultan’s Elephant, apparently. I think that’s a living, breathing elephant though I can’t be sure. It was closed by Sir Elton John; we aren’t told how.

Prizes included a guitar lesson with Chris Martin followed by dinner with his actress wife Gwyneth Paltrow (pulling in £140,000), a yoga session with Sting and a Damien Hurst painting. Bill Clinton sent a personal letter of endorsement to everyone on a somewhat exclusive guest list.

It raised £18.4 million – all of which went to the brisk, businesslike and I suspect very productive Absolute Return for Kids.

More from The Times on this event and the new philanthropists.

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