Bill Gates and Sharon Stone Attend the Amfar Dinner at the Kennedy Center (Photos)

The actress presented the billionaire with an award at a star-studded event this weekend.
Sharon Stone and Bill Gates. Photograph by James R. Brantley.
Sharon Stone and Bill Gates. Photograph by James R. Brantley.

It was serious and sensational at a dinner party on the rooftop of the Kennedy Center
this past weekend. Serious because the subject was AIDS, and sensational because the
guests included the richest man in America,
Bill Gates; one of the nation’s most photographed movie stars,
Sharon Stone; and the recently out-of-the-closet
Anderson Cooper. Yes, it was possible to get blinded by the camera flashes, especially when Gates
wrapped his arm around Stone’s waist.

The dinner hosted by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and GBCHealth on the
eve of the 19th annual International AIDS Conference, which is underway through Friday
at the Washington Convention Center. Gates was presented with the amfAR Award of Courage.
Stone is the group’s global fundraising chairman. When she was introduced by Cooper
he called her “an extremely persuasive fundraiser.”

Stone lauded Gates for seeking courage and truth. “To know Bill a little bit is to
know this is a person who is shy, not seeking the limelight,” she said. “He understands
the computer world, but he also understands the human world.” She said the money he
has contributed to AIDS research and to helping people with AIDS, particularly in
Africa, is “changing the world.”

It wasn’t long after she stepped up on the stage that Stone was in tears, asking for
the guests to “take a moment for those people we have lost” to AIDS. She then noted
that Washington was the right location for the AIDS Conference because “DC is the
worst place for the crisis in America.” DC reportedly has the highest HIV rate in
the United States: 20,000 people have been affected by the virus, and 10,000 have

“I’m so sorry. I have a tendency to get a little emotional about this,” Stone said,
wiping away tears. She recalled that 17 years ago, she was asked to fill in for Elizabeth
Taylor at an amfAR event. “You can imagine what that was like.” Stone thought the
crisis would end. “Three years later, when it wasn’t over, I couldn’t imagine how
I could go on.” She stopped to try to compose herself, and then continued haltingly.
“Now people are living and will continue to live . . . I’m sorry . . . and [looking
at Gates] it’s your courage that is enabling them to live.”

Gates, bespectacled and composed, said “it’s amazing” that it’s been 30 years since
articles came out on the subject of AIDS. “There’s still a significant epidemic, but
the number of new infections are coming down. Almost all pregnant women infected with
HIV receive treatment to prevent passing the infection on to their newborn.” He urged
people to “stay committed” and said, “We have many potential game changers for bringing
us closer to the end of AIDS.”

Gates received standing ovations at the beginning and end of his remarks. He returned
to his table, where he was seated next to Cooper. They seemed deep in conversation
even while photographers swarmed. House minority leader
Nancy Pelosi stopped by for a photo op, as did Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Earlier, during the red carpet and rope line arrivals, a lot of attention was paid
to Cooper, who recently made public that he is gay. When a reporter tried to engage
him in conversation, however, he said he did not want to answer questions. Others
attending the dinner included actor
John Corbett, shoe industry executive
Kenneth Cole, opera singer
Jessye Norman, and rapper

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