HEY, BIG SPENDER: There may have been 21 naked ladies in the Christie's London auction hall — wearing only their Jimmy Choos and Cartier sparklers — but the star of the evening was a Saudi Arabian businessman with a bottomless pit of a bank account. An auction of 21 photographs of celebrities — including Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, Serena Williams and Victoria Beckham — in aid of the Elton John AIDS Foundation outstripped expectations Wednesday night when the billionaire Walid Juffali snapped up the bulk of the lots. "There were some serious people out there tonight — I never expected to raise that kind of money," said Tamara Mellon, who co-hosted the event, where guests included Elton John, David Furnish, Rosita Marlborough, Karen Groos, Ashley and Allegra Hicks, Clemmie Hambro, David Collins, Joana Schliemann and Kinvara Balfour. Mellon was ready to raise a total of $1.1 million in three auctions (co-hosted with Cartier) in London, New York and Los Angeles. Instead she rang up $2.4 million in less than an hour.
The Jeddah- and London-based Juffali, whose wife is the California model Christina Estrada, is a major fund-raiser (and friend of Elton's) who says he plans to create a museum for the photographs — and raise further cash for African causes.
Meanwhile, Paris Hilton, who swept in after the bidding was done, said she of course loved posing naked. "It was hot! And it was for charity. Plus, if you're wearing Jimmy Choos, you don't need anything else."
ACTING FANS: French actress Marion Cotillard sat front and center at the French Open Wednesday in Paris to watch fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet win during the second round of the tournament. "I love men!" quipped the actress from under her floppy Lacoste hat. "Men's tennis, that is." French film legend Claude Lelouch also cheered on his countryman.