Bloomberg News

Vanity Fair Oscar Party Invites Draw $100,000 at Auctions

February 09, 2012

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- If your invitation to the Vanity Fair Oscar party hasn’t arrived, there’s still hope.

Charitybuzz.com, which runs auctions for nonprofits and philanthropic causes, is offering two tickets to the bash the magazine throws after the Academy Awards. The bidding ends Feb. 20, six days before the event, with proceeds going to a Los Angeles charter school. The highest tender so far: $16,000.

Only 500 people are invited and requests to be on the list come in by the hundreds, according to Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair’s editor. “Let’s just say that a few weeks before the party, the staff of Vanity Fair is everyone’s best friend,” he said in an e-mail.

The party, at the Sunset Tower Hotel, last year drew celebrities including Mick Jagger, Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks and Quentin Tarantino, according to a slide show on the magazine’s website. Guests linger until 3 a.m. “hatching deals, exchanging business cards, flirting, lying about how they loved the other person’s last movie,” Carter wrote in 2005 article.

There have been fistfights, gatecrashers discreetly escorted away and stars whose behavior insured they wouldn’t be asked back. “We have a crack security team who don’t put up with a lot of guff,” Carter said in the e-mail.

The guest list, the product of months of deliberation by magazine editors, includes the usual Hollywood suspects as well as personalities from the worlds of music, literature, sports and politics. Carter said he was pleased tickets were available on Charitybuzz. “I think it’s wonderful that the party can do some good,” he said. Asked how much it costs to put on the affair, he said, “Not as much as it looks.”

‘Celeb-Studded’

Charitybuzz is also auctioning what it calls “almost impossible-to-get tickets” to a Feb. 25 pre-Oscars party hosted by producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein. The brothers’ independent studio, Weinstein Co., last year had a best-movie win with “The King’s Speech,” and this year their film “The Artist” has 10 nominations, including for best picture. Bidding for what the website describes as a “celeb-studded” blowout that would benefit Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, ends at 4 p.m. New York time today. The top offer is $8,250.

“Offering invitations to otherwise private events to help raise money for organizations or individuals in need is something we’ve always been proud to take part in,” a Weinstein Co. spokeswoman said.

Revelry dates to the first Academy Awards, a black-tie banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929. Agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar hosted invitation-only get-togethers that were the hottest tickets in town for more than three decades until his death in 1993.

‘Warm Glow’

The 3,330 invites to the awards show are distributed to members of its sponsor, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and to nominees and presenters. The academy doesn’t offer tickets for auctions and monitors websites such as eBay.com and craigslist.org to make sure they aren’t resold, according to Teni Melidonian, a spokeswoman for the academy.

Vanity Fair makes a limited number of invitations available each year for charity, according to Beth Kseniak, a spokeswoman for the magazine, and they have raised over $3 million for causes including breast cancer research. Last year, Charitybuzz sold the magazine party and one sponsored by the Elton John AIDS Foundation as package to benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. A bidder whose name wasn’t disclosed paid $100,000.

Selling a handful of invites greatly increases their worth, said Peter Hans Matthews, an economist at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, who has studied auctions. That the money is going to charity gives bidders a “warm glow,” he said, though their desire to “see and be seen” adds to the value too.

‘Love Movies’

John’s party, now in its 20th year, will be at a West Hollywood park. Tickets begin at $3,500, according to Christina Lee, a spokeswoman for the foundation. The singer will hold a live auction for invitations for two to ride with him and his partner, David Furnish, at midnight from his party to the Vanity Fair soiree. That went last year for $70,000 to an undisclosed bidder, Lee said.

Miriam Forman, a 40-year-old paralegal from Chicago, said she’ll be at the event this year, having won two tickets on Charitybuzz in November. The proceeds went to the New York-based Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which develops programs to prevent harassment in schools.

“I love movies and I grew up listening to Elton John’s music and going to his concerts,” said Forman. She said she wants to meet Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy, best supporting actress nominees for “The Help” and “Bridesmaids,” respectively.

Forman declined to say how much she paid. “I don’t like to bid and tell,” she said.

--Editors: Anne Reifenberg, Anthony Palazzo

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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