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Clinton's saxophone the star at Cannes benefit

BILL Clinton's saxophone and Robert Pattinson's lips have helped a star-studded charity event raise money to fight AIDS.

An alto sax signed and donated by the former United States president was one of the star lots at the Cinema Against AIDS benefit at the Cannes Film Festival, selling for 130,000 euros (US$180,000). There was also keen bidding on two kisses from "Twilight" star Pattinson, which raised 20,000 euros.

Sharon Stone hosted the 16th annual event at the exclusive Hotel du Cap on the French Riviera. Singer Annie Lennox entertained about 800 guests who included Paris Hilton, model Claudia Schiffer, director Terry Gilliam, rapper 50 Cent and scientist James Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA.

Stone urged people to give generously despite the global economic slump.

"Looking down at the price of my own shoes, we in this room cannot pretend that we have nothing to give," she said.

Like the Cannes Film Festival itself, the event was more muted than in recent years, with just a smattering of A-list stars and some lots selling for below their estimates. Organizers said the event raised a total of US$4.5 million, compared with US$10 million last year.

Proceeds from the event go to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), a nonprofit organization that supports HIV/AIDS research.

"Everybody knows there is a global economic slowdown of epic proportions," said Clinton, who supports AIDS research and treatment through his William J. Clinton Foundation.

"I'm here with people who tell stories for a living," Clinton said. "You don't need to read many novels or make many movies to realize that everybody has a story. Every time a child dies of AIDS somewhere in the world, the light goes out of a story."

Lennox dedicated her performance of "There Must Be An Angel" to amfAR supporter Natasha Richardson, who died after a skiing accident in March.

Stone said amfAR was setting up a fund in Richardson's memory for research on a cure for AIDS and donated US$50,000 to help it along.


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