By Sarah Mills
CAP D’ANTIBES, France (Reuters) – Elton John on Wednesday hosted a celebrity-packed gala that raised more than $6 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Kenya, thanks partly to auctions of a luxury car and an autographed piano used in the singer’s “Rocketman” movie musical.
The British singer-songwriter, on a break from his farewell world tour, welcomed the likes of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, actress Joan Collins and Taron Egerton, who plays John in “Rocketman,” to a villa in Cap d’Antibes in France.
“We’re here for the Elton John AIDS foundation, our first south of France fundraiser, hopefully to raise money for people who desperately need it in our fight against HIV and AIDS,” John told reporters.
Martin performed “Viva La Vida” and was joined on stage by John for a performance of “I’m Still Standing” and “Rocketman.” Guests bid on auction items ranging from a limited-edition luxury Bentley car, a Gucci jacket worn by Egerton in the biopic, and tickets to John’s final world tour.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation last year announced a MenStar Coalition that aims to expand diagnosis and treatment of HIV infections, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Wednesday’s party was thrown to support a program to provide HIV self-test kits to 400,000 young men in Kenya.
“The thing is for people to get tested, to know their status, not to be ashamed of it. It’s a very treatable disease,” John said on Wednesday.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation has donated some $450 million to projects since it was founded in 1992, according to foundation officials. Much of the money comes from annual parties and auctions in Los Angeles and New York.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry)