Sir Richard Branson jumped off the stage and down into the crowd after his keynote speech at City Gala 2016 to take selfies with guests.
Los Angeles (February 17, 2016) – Sean “Diddy” Combs hosted the City Gala 2016 (www.CityGala.org), a fundraiser following The 58th GRAMMYs® on Monday, February 15, 2016, at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Sir Richard Branson (founder, Virgin Group) was the keynote speaker in a moderated discussion by Jane Seymour. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and American businessman and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria (co-founder, Paul Mitchell, The Patron Spirits Company) were honored at the event, with Jeff Timmons, of the Grammy-nominated pop group 98 Degrees, as the emcee for the night. Live performances included DJ Paul Oakenfold, Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & the Gang, Chanel West Coast, The Stafford Brothers and DJ Sarah Robertson. Event proceeds benefit Community Inspiring Today’s Youth (CITY), a non-profit organization that supports and mentors underserved teens and young adults in developing their own start-up businesses in Los Angeles.
Among the night’s topics, keynote speaker Sir Richard Branson talked about his dyslexia and its influence on his entrepreneurial spirit, saying, “The best way of starting a business is after frustration; feeling this can be done better.”
The City Gala 2016 benefits CITY and its non-profit programs for LA youth, as well From the Heart Productions, Fire Life Foundation, The Scheer Foundation and Supporting Our Servicemen (SOS).
The event was an exclusive invitation-only black tie fundraiser featuring an open bar, open buffet, honors ceremonies, live musical entertainment, a charitable poker tournament, tours of the Playboy Mansion grounds, celebrity meet and greets, and a fashion show presented by Hemp Blue. The online action will continue with an array of incredible items and experiences at http://www.citygalaauction.com until Tuesday,
February 23rd at 2 p.m. PT. Highlight items include a Luxury Box at the 2016 American Music Awards; and a 2016 Mercedes-Benz S63 Coupe Custom Widebody. Australian artist Matteo Charles created paintings live at the Gala of Aldrin, Seymour and DeJoria, and the portraits are now available in the online auction.
The event also featured the first public exhibit endorsed by the Michael Jackson Estate of art painted by Michael Jackson. Four pieces from the collection, which is appraised at $480 million, and now owned by Michael Jackson’s friend and mentor, artist Brett Livingstone Strong, were on display.
Additional celebrities in attendance included Gene Simmons (Kiss); Carl Weathers (actor, USA’s “Colony,” “Rocky”); John “Spider” Salley (Four-time NBA Champion); Nick Lachey (98 Degrees); A.J. Mclean (Backstreet Boys); Kathy Sledge (Sister Sledge); Grammy-winning artist Mya; Barbie Blank (“WWE Raw”); Kaya Jones (Pussycat Dolls); legendary boxing announcer Michael Buffer; Bruce Buffer; celebrity fashion icon Lloyd Klein; comedian Andy Dick, Golnesa ‘GG’ Gharachedaghi, Gilles Marini (“Devious Maids”), Paul Johansson (“One Tree Hill”), Donny Most, Jose Conseco, Willie Galt, Chuck Lidell, Travis Van Winkle (“The Last Ship”) and Miss Universe 2014, Nia Sanchez, among many others.
A highlight of the night was Grammy Hall of Fame musical guest Robert ‘Kool” Bell of Kool & The Gang, along with guitarist Amir Bayyan, and a special DJ set by The Legendary Mohamed Moretta, including “Fresh,” “Get Down On It” and “Celebration” live. Aldrin, an American engineer, former astronaut and the second person to walk on the moon, has supported charitable and philanthropic efforts through Buzz Aldrin’s Share Space Foundation. At the event, The City Gala presented Aldrin with the City Gala Lifetime Achievement Award. Entrepreneur, best-selling author and acclaimed speaker Greg Reid presented the award to Aldrin.
DeJoria, a member of The Giving Pledge, has supported charitable and philanthropic efforts through his Peace, Love and Happiness Foundation for over a decade. At the event, City Gala executive producer Ryan Long presented DeJoria the Legacy of Inspiration Award. The honor is meant to inspire other high net worth individuals to tell the story of their rise to success, their challenges, and ultimately their accomplishment of being able to give forward.
Event producer is Billie Mitchell of Billie Mitchell Events and set designer is Sandra Costa of Sandra Costa Design Group. Sponsors included Tagspire, AirVuz, JetSmarter, SeedInvest, BELLA Magazine, OK! TV, Modern Luxury Angeleno, Foreground Media, King Size LED Displays, BlairBones Media and Rolls-Royce Beverly Hills.
The first City Gala took place on Oscars night in 2014, featuring keynote speaker James Cameron and special guests Charlize Theron, Sean Penn, Halle Berry, Tyrese Gibson, Gene Simmons and Paris Hilton, as well as live musical entertainment provided by Ne-Yo. The event raised over $350,000 for charitable causes.
** Photo Credits**