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Elton John Delivers Exclusive Performance and Raises $10.8 Million for AIDS Foundation at Annual Oscars Party

Sir Elton John retired from touring last July, but the legendary singer got back behind the piano in front of a star-studded audience at his annual Academy Awards viewing party, benefitting the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The crowd, which included Patricia Arquette, Donatella Versace, Sharon Stone, Zooey Deschanel, Brandi Carlile, Danny DeVito, Rhea Pearlman, Tim Allen, Elizabeth Hurley, Alexis Bledel, Eric McCormack, Avril Lavigne, Heidi Klum and Melanie Lynskey, was regaled with a rousing rendition of “Are You Ready for Love,” assisted by the night’s musical headliners, the trio Gabriels.

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“I’m from Compton, I’m from L.A., so it feels like a full circle moment,” Gabriels member Jacob Lusk said.  “And to be doing it in support of an amazing event such as this. [We get to] have fun, eat good food, drink a little bit and then help people.”

Gabriels, who also performed “Love and Hate in a Different Time” and “Great Wind,” are one of John’s favorite new acts. The group made waves in 2022 when John joined them on stage at the Glastonbury Festival.

The event raised a record-setting $10.8 million, cruising past the previous high total set in 2022 by more than $1 million. For more than 30 years, the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party has been a preeminent Oscar-night event, raking in well over $100 million since the first gathering on Maple Drive in 1993. West Hollywood Park is now transformed every year to accommodate the party, which was hosted this time around by Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, alongside John and his husband David Furnish, who chairs the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Teaming with other philanthropists like Versace, last year John and Furnish launched the Rocket Fund, which aims to accelerate funding for the foundation. The organization is working to end AIDS by 2030.

“This [event] supports the Rocket fund,” Furnish said. “With the fund, we can turbocharge our fundraising efforts and our programmatic efforts and end AIDS by 2030. If you think of where we started with this disease in the 1980s, when there was no hope, no medication — if you were diagnosed with AIDS, it was a death sentence. Now people live full happy lives on one pill a day. And we just have to get them tested and get them access into treatment. So [this event] allows us to unlock that and make those things happen — all with the glitz and glamor of the Oscars. Everybody wins.”

A live auction brought in millions for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, with an energized bidding war leading to a $500,000 sale for Chopard earrings from Maison’s. The brand threw in a second pair, which was sold for an additional $500,000 on the spot.

A bedazzled Yamaha piano signed by John went for north of $360,000, no doubt assisted by the artist playing a few bars of “Your Song” for the audience. Other items included one of John’s personal Rolex watches, photography from John and Furnish’s personal collection, an early illustration by Andy Warhol, a blueprint drawing from Keith Haring, pinball machines painted with representations of John’s career and exclusive entry into last night’s Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

“I’m always lifted up to come here to spread awareness for LGBTQ people in general — and just youth in general. We’re trying to fight against AIDS, we’re trying to fight against the stigma against it,” Michaela Jaé Rodriguez said.

Smokey Robinson added that there was no better place than the Elton John Oscar party to watch the awards show.

“Elton and David are personal friends of ours – they’re family,” Robinson said. “And we’re experiencing more negativity in health and in attitude … than we ever have. They’re doing something to, first of all, try to combat AIDS, and they’re just wonderful people.”

Toni Braxton brought her son to the party, his first Oscar event, and called John her “big brother in the business.”

“All the money he’s brought to people [who are] being ignored — I love that about him,” Braxton said.

She also teased her upcoming residency in Las Vegas with Cedric the Entertainer.

“We put something together called ‘Love and Laughter,” she said. “It’s like seven acts … It’s like Sonny and Cher meets Donny and Marie meets Toni and Cedric.”

Jane Seymour attended the event ahead of the Netflix premiere of her new film “Irish Wish,” in which she co-stars with Lindsay Lohan.

“It’s wonderful to have Oscar parties and the glamor and the stars and the rest of it, but this because there was an enormous need in that segment of society … It’s an enormous need to support them and to understand what their needs are and to do what can be done to fight AIDS all over the world,” Seymour said.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party wasn’t the only soirée in town. Greta Gerwig and Billie Eilish danced the night away at the Vanity Fair party, while Rob Lowe hosted a celeb-filled viewing party at Spago in Beverly Hills. Plus, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce showed up at a private, no-cameras function at Guy Oseary’s Hollywood Hills home, hosted by Madonna.

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