Sean Penn hosted a benefit for Haiti in Beverly Hills with a private dinner and a silent auction of Jim Goldberg photos featuring Penn in Haiti. The event, co-hosted by Penn, Roberta Armani, and Vanity Fair, was toasting the collaboration between Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization and Armani’s “Acqua for Life” project. In his speech, Penn spoke about was spurred him on to dedicate himself to help Haiti. Here are excerpts of the Vanity Fair article:
Explaining the night’s raison d’être to his guests—such as Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Emma Roberts, Vanessa Getty, Amber Heard, and Fergie—Penn remembered the moment, in 2010, when he was inspired to help “our neighbors” in Haiti. It stemmed from a skateboarding accident that his son, Hopper, had been involved in that required emergency brain surgery. And it occurred after his divorce from Robin Wright. “I found myself, first of all, single for the first time in about 20 years, which was not the worst part of this [transition], and I’ve got two kids out of the house. So I go out, for four nights in a row. And I end up getting completely drunk. And I’m single. I come home, turn on the TV, and they are [showing coverage of the earthquake in Haiti]. They’re cutting little children’s arms off without even an aspirin. And legs. And feet. And toes.”
“I immediately flash back to seeing morphine go into the veins of my son to give him some relief” after his accident, Penn continued. Inspired, he began to brainstorm ways to get the people of Haiti the medical supplies they needed. “Now, actors in Hollywood know how to find narcotics, but not bulk narcotics,” Penn joked. “I’m sorry for those of you who don’t know the truth about this, but the great Hugo Chavez, went through a lot of bureaucracy to give me a ‘yes, I’ll send $350,000 of morphine.” With supplies in place, Penn secured two planes—one cargo, one personnel—seven doctors, and 23 aid workers. “We landed and spent two weeks working non-stop to deliver these supplies. . . but I realized how ineffective we were.” A year later, Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization was born, and today, Penn said, his N.G.O. employs 380 full-time staff. With the help of a half-million dollar donation from Armani, Penn said that his organization can continue working to make Haiti “one of the most resilient next door neighbors in the world.”
Earlier in the evening, guests met at Paramount Studios for a special preview of Jim Goldberg’s Acqua #3 Exhibition—a new collection of photos taken in Haiti—and Paris Photo’s first L.A. exhibition. Statuesque Armani models dotted the winding black-carpet path through the studio to Stage 5, where the exhibit was held, and waiters served sparkling water and champagne. Partygoers were then whisked from Hollywood to Beverly Hills for more champagne, a seated dinner, and the personal speech from Penn.
“Now, the worst, worst part of the night, at least after this circus,” Penn continued, motioning to four gorgeous Jim Goldberg photos featuring Penn in Haiti that were up for silent auction. “It didn’t hit me until today that we were auctioning off pictures of me. Why would [you pay money for a photo] of this reptilian creature? Well, why you would pay money for it is that it makes the night successful for Haiti.” Pausing a beat for the hard sell, Penn added, “And then you can eBay it. I actually encourage that! So if you think that I would be offended and are doubting whether you should [list] that picture of me, don’t. Sell it! Sell it! Sell it! Get a higher price.” And with that, Penn’s guests laughed, and bid up the prices for the charitable cause.
For full article, see http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2013/04/sean-penn-armani