Russell Simmons brings out the heavy hitters to the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s Annual Art for Life benefit he hosts each year at his East Hampton home with brothers Danny and Joseph "Rev. Run."
A visibly pregnant Alicia Keys accompanied her baby daddy, record producer Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, who was being honored at Saturday's even. Also honored: Deepak Chopra, entrepreneur Richie Akiva and philanthropists Allison and Chip Brady. John Legend, with girlfriend Chrisy Teigen, R&B singer Maxwell with model Selita Ebanks, Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, Carol Alt, Donna Karan and Kelly Killoren Bensimon also made the scene.
Including sponsorships, the evening raised $1 million, says publicist Lacy Pica. The profits will go toward arts education for underprivileged kids.
But Simmons had big picture concerns. “It’s very difficult and sad what’s going on with the arts,” he told Newsday. “A lot of funding has been cut. It's on the back burner for a lot of people. I worry about the lack of creativity we're going to have in our society in the next generation.”
Simmons was certainly doing his part. He opened the floor to pledges, selling $1,000 balloons. He set the bar, buying 10. Tommy Mottola and Donna Karan were among the others who followed suit. Honorees Alison and Chip Brady bought 20. John Legend's girlfriend Chrisy Teigen bid $17,000 to have Chef Todd English, whose show, “Food Trip with Todd English," airs on PBS, cook an at-home dinner for 10.
As the evening progressed, Legend and “Swizz Beatz” upped the ante by donating a studio session.
Bids are still being taken on Charitybuzz.com. “We’ll see when it comes out,” Simmons told us at the beginning of the auction. “We make a great effort and hopefully we’ll be somewhere close to where we were last year.”
With a little help from his friends , Simmons achieved that goal.