by Degen Pener
March 2, 2014
Colin Farrell touched and entertained a crowd by recalling his friendship and connection with Elizabeth Taylor at an exclusive photography auction for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation during Oscar week. At the event, which was held at the Los Angeles Center of Photography on Feb. 27, Farrell remembered how chance brought him together with the actress.
“My second son was being born. I was at Cedars Sinai. I went downstairs to sneak a cigarette,” Farrell, the evening’s host, told the 250-person crowd, which included photographers Bruce Weber and Firooz Zahedi, who donated work to the benefit. At Cedars, Farrell met someone who worked with Taylor who told him she was at the hospital having a stent put into her heart. Farrell sent his well wishes. ” ‘Would you do me a favor and tell her I said hello? She probably won’t know who I am, but please pass on my regards,'” recalled the actor, who later auctioned off the first item in the live auction, a piece of jewelry by Lorraine Schwartz, for $2,300.
Three days later, Farrell called his office and asked them to send get-well flowers to the actress, but she had already beat him to it with a delivery of orchids. “With a handwritten note. The rumors are true. She’s good,” he said. Soon after, he asked to meet her and was granted a visit with her at her house — though he said he had to wait an hour to see her. “Only she could be socially late in her own house,” he joked.
Farrell wasn’t the only participant who lent the affair a feeling of intimacy. A number of Taylor’s relatives and descendants were on hand including her grandson Rhys Tivey, a jazz musician, who opened the proceedings with a trumpet performance accompanied by bass. The actress’ granddaughter Naomi Wilding organized the auction along with her husband, Anthony Cran. The two are co-founders of the soon-to-open Wilding Cran Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. And philanthropist Aileen Getty, the ex-wife of Taylor’s son Christopher, matched 100 percent of the money raised during the evening.
The benefit raised funds to continue Taylor’s legacy of providing care and increasing awareness for people with HIV and AIDS. “She understood the life-defining importance of inclusion for all of us. She bravely pushed politicians and health care workers to open their minds and hearts as well,” said Farrell. The auction was timed to mark what would have been the actress’ 82nd birthday.