Partying for a good cause at Sir Elton John’s estate
‘SHUT THE F— UP you lot!’ It’s not quite the greeting you expect in the English countryside as a galaxy of A-listers look on, but it was the brilliantly forthright instruction from Sir Elton John to the guests at his Windsor estate. His husband, David Furnish, was speaking on stage about the plight of Aids victims. And when Sir Elton tells you to pay attention, not a superstar in sight – from Victoria Beckham to Billie Jean King – dare argue.
They were at the couple’s sprawling manor to mark the silver anniversary of the Elton John AIDS Foundation in association with Bulgari and philanthropists Bob and Tamar Manoukian. And the setting of the Argento Ball was a veritable midsummer night’s dream. A ‘red carpet’ depicting milestones in the charity’s history swept guests into the grounds, where Sir Elton and Furnish bid sons Elijah, five, and Zachary, seven, a good night before the party got underway.
As Graham Norton compèred over dinner, the auction began. Sir Elton made a speech, paying tribute to his friend Diana, Princess of Wales. Burrata and asparagus were served while a sea of hands competed to outbid each other; when businessman Richard Caring won a breakfast with Victoria Beckham for £75,000, the typically wry VB joked, ‘Are you bidding for me not to sing?’
After lots including a fidget spinner created by Sir Elton using Bulgari jewels, a Mclaren Spider and Jeff Koons artworks were snapped up, Ed Sheeran hit the stage. Guests tiptoed through the moonlit garden to the dance area, waiters bearing espresso martinis lining the way. Beside the vintage train carriage that acted as the backdrop to the bar, Nicole Scherzinger, Taron Egerton and Elizabeth Hurley got into the groove to vintage Madonna and Whitney Houston, and the Gucci-clad power couple did the rounds thanking guests for raising a staggering £4.4 million to help people living with Aids. A night that no one will forget, and a lifeline that the many it will help won’t either. To donate, go to ejaf.org.
Sir Elton John, in Gucci and Bulgari, with Victoria Beckham
Dinner was served in the grounds of the estate, which has a direct path to Windsor Castle
Singer Nicole Scherzinger in Bulgari
Tennis legend Billie Jean King and partner Ilana Kloss
Actor Tom Ellis
Socialite Heather Kerzner
Actor Taron Egerton with his girlfriend, Emily Thomas
Ed Sheeran performs in football kit and a Bulgari watch
Singer Alexandra Burke in Bulgari
Producer David Furnish
Artist Marina Abramovic and tennis player Maria Sharapova
Producer and director Trudie Styler
Actor Russell Tovey