Leonardo DiCaprio: 'We Are the Last Generation That Has a Chance to Stop Climate Change'
Nearly $45 million was raised to support the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation's mission of preserving the environment and all of Earth's inhabitants.
The event also honored victims and survivors of the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France—a portion of the evening's proceeds went to GiveforFrance.org, with DiCaprio himself and a number of guests making personal donations, according to the organizers.
In a speech kicking off the evening, the Oscar-winning actor and prominent activist urged for solutions to the world's environmental challenges.
"While we are the first generation that has the technology, the scientific knowledge and the global will to build a truly sustainable economic future for all of humanity—we are the last generation that has a chance to stop climate change before it is too late," DiCaprio said.
DiCaprio listed several environmental conservation achievements from this past year, such as the signing of COP21 agreement in April, where the United Nations Messenger of Peace delivered a speech in front of world dignitaries imploring a shift towards renewable energy.
He also highlighted successful initiatives achieved by his foundation and their partners, including the first native tiger population increase in 100 years and the first moratorium on all new palm oil plantations in Indonesia, a cause that The Revenant star has been particularly involved.
The evening was hosted by DiCaprio as well his foundation's fundraising chairman Milutin Gatsby, CEO Terry Tamminen, executive director Justin Winters and with support of banking group Julius Baer and Swiss watch maker Chopard.
Event chairs included Boris F.J. Collardi, CEO of Julius Baer, Philippe Cousteau, Jonah Hill, Kate Hudson, Tobey Maguire, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Caroline Scheufele, Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Robert De Niro, Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron.
The gala, of course, included a host of A-list attendees, including Bono, Chris Rock, Mariah Carey, Bradley Cooper and supermodels Naomi Campbell, Constance Jablonski, Joan Smalls, Doutzen Kroes and Lily Donaldson. The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey gave special performances.
The soirÃ©e's signature silent and live auction featured a slew of unique experiences (my favorite: attending the U.S. Open's men's final with Leo!), luxury collectibles and memorabilia. DiCaprio's collection of fine art on the block included pieces from renowned artists Jeff Koons, Pablo Picasso, Urs Fischer, Olafur Eliasson and Adrian Villar Rojas.
GQ gave a hilarious breakdown of auction's offerings:
The items range from the practical to the insane. For example, you could bid on DiCaprio's Rolex, his diamond cufflinks he wore when he won his Oscar, various pieces of expensive fine art (like the ones in DiCaprio's storied collection), and "A Unique Pair of Luminous Jellyfish Earrings." That last one is a little less Leo, but it is just the right amount of decadent.
You can also go for the Leonardo DiCaprio experience, including a week on set with Martin Scorsese (will he let you call him Marty?), a private game of Texas Hold 'Em with Edward Norton and Jonah Hill, an evening with Mariah Carey, and lunch with Margot Robbie. All for the price of a few years at an Ivy League, but think about it. What better education is there than paying celebrities to hang out with you? That's what I thought. There are also some weirder offerings like a portrait of Leo's eyeball. If you're going to get a portrait of an eyeball, why not have it be Leo DiCaprio's eyeball? It's a good eyeball.
That said, the money raised is going towards worthy causes. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, founded in 1998, has given away more than $59 million to fund environmental projects across the globe. The foundation announced last week $15.6 million in grants, the largest portfolio of environmental grants in the foundation's history, to organizations that are working to preserve and protect the future of the planet. These grants further the foundation's approach to helping tackle some of today's most pressing environmental issues.
@LeoDiCaprio Foundation invests $2,100,000 to protect indigenous rights support Indigenous-led conservation movement https://t.co/89ymLD2v4h— Indigenous Waters (@Indigenous Waters) 1468721358
"The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore," DiCaprio said. "I am proud to support these organizations who are working to solve humankind's greatest challenge."