Six days, two dinners, and one Kim Kardashian West. SEEN is practically Kim’s BFF at this point. We met the reality star and mother of Nori (Kourtney was babysitting that night) once again at the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) gala last night, which is, as executive director Benjamin Bashein describes, “a charity with strong holds in the art, fashion, media, and design fields.” ACRIA, besides fearlessly pioneering HIV/AIDS research, is also well known for its art auctions, in part because many of its board members and friends are highly celebrated artists such as Ross Bleckner, Jack Pierson, Ryan McGinley, and Rob Pruitt (who were all there).
The dinner now includes some 450 guests (up from the intimate 200) and kicked off with your typical holiday glitz and glamour at Skylight West (last night was first time in ten years the event was not held at Donna Karan’s studio). We chatted briefly with Zachary Quinto, who told us: “I collect photography, in part because my father is a photographer.” Amanda Seyfried — just back from a charitable trip to the Girls Home in Nicaragua with her boyfriend, Justin Long — said to us that “seeing the squalor makes you want to act on it. There’s so much we can do.” Tyson Beckford admitted that he was “getting into art collecting.” He added: “I have so many great pieces at home that I should sell some of this. I want to have a gallery opening!” But all this is fluffy party coverage. When it was time for Kim to take to the podium (the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation had just announced a $50,000 grant to ACRIA), where she was presenting Bruce Weber with an award for his longtime commitment to the organization, she had many thoughts. Without any further ado:
I wanted to share my story about my fight against AIDS. When I was 14, so 20 years ago, when I was in high school, and they gave us a project, it was a community-service project, you could do anything you really wanted, like helping the homeless. But no one chose the category of AIDS, so I rose my hand and said I would do it. I made my best friend do it with me. And once a week, we had to go to support groups for people with AIDS or maybe family members trying to cope. There wasn’t a lot of information about it; there was a girl our age, 14, in the group, and everyone else was older and she shared her story, and she was diagnosed with AIDS, or HIV, and her parents disowned her and kicked her out of the house. The school didn’t want her there anymore, she lost all of her friends, and she moved in with an aunt. Eight months later, her doctors called her and told her that they had mixed her up with someone else and she did not have HIV. She was not positive. And she came to the support group every day, made best friends with everyone in the group. Throughout this year, three people passed away that were regulars and through sharing their story became friends of mine. That taught me about compassion. And I just felt like there’s no judgment, and I learned a huge lesson on compassion. I share that story, because I think Bruce is one of the most compassionate people that I know. I worked with him on my first photo shoot — and you don’t know this, so please don’t hold it against me, but I am so afraid of dogs, and he made me do this photo shoot with ten dogs and I just wanted to make him happy and have a great shoot, but I was shaking. They were tiny dogs, but still.
I just fell in love with Bruce. He’s just the nicest. …. [pause] …. person. We just talked about Elizabeth, and he gave me this photo of her that I don’t think anyone has seen. I became fascinated reading all these books on Elizabeth; he just started taking photos of that and that made it into the DuJour magazine we made together. Since then, he gave me one of the greatest gifts: For my wedding he shot my daughter and I with six dogs. My daughter loves dogs. That was my daughter’s first time ever seeing dogs, at least she’s not afraid, so thank you. I find it so remarkable that you have helped out this organization for so long; you donate so much money but you donate so much work. I love surrounding myself with passionate people and compassionate people so I am so honored tonight to be able to present to you, Bruce Weber.