On Thursday night, the AIDS/HIV philanthropy amfAR hosted its annual Cinema Against AIDS charity auction and fundraiser, and some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names showed up to pledge their time and money for increasing awareness and research for the deadly disease. In all, the event raised more than $32 million for amfAR, as Harvey Weinstein, Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, Janet Jackson and many others helped auction off or donated incredible prizes and packages.
One of the top-drawing packages included a seat on the Virgin Galactic maiden voyage to outerspace, as it fetched approximately $1.5 million. The winner of that honor was 37-year old Russian businessman Vasily Klyukin, who was most likely convinced to shell out that kind of cash for a ticket that otherwise cost $200,000 because he’ll get to sit next to Leonardo DiCaprio.
“You don’t get to go to outer space every day with a handsome movie star,” Stone said during the auction process.
Travelers will undergo three days of astronaut training in the California desert, at which point they’ll take off aboard the Virgin Galactic, detach from the mother ship and launch into orbit, ABC News reported. (Via UPI)
Klyukin and DiCaprio will be two of the hundreds of people – including Tom Hanks, Stephen Hawking and Katy Perry, naturally – who have reportedly paid for the experience to see outer space up close when the maiden voyage is made on Christmas, but it bears pointing out that the goal of the flight isn’t to float through space and wave to the astronauts at the International Space Station or help defend the Frontier from Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada.
Rather, the flight will be “sub-orbital”, which, according to the guy I just shoved into a locker, means that the SpaceShip Two will pop above the atmosphere to the edge of space long enough for the passengers to “Ooh” and “Ah” for a few moments. And I imagine that the training session will go like this:
Amazingly, the space flight wasn’t the highest-earning prize of the auction, as someone paid close to $2 million for a VIP Academy Awards package that includes a weekend in Los Angeles and two tickets to Weinstein’s pre-Oscar party. However, it does not include tickets to the actual Oscar ceremony, to which the winning bidder will eventually realize and say, “Hey, what the…”