Two x Two raises $5 million

Two x Two for AIDS and Art, the fundraiser held Saturday that benefits both AmfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art,  raised $5 million this weekend. One piece at the auction, by artist Luc Tuymans, netted $700,000. Approximately 500 people attended the black-tie event, at which Grammy winner Gladys Knight performed.

The DMA’s Jeffrey Grove and AmfAR CEO Kevin Frost spoke, introducing Tuymans, who received the 2013 Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight for AIDS.

Celebrities including designer Diane von Furstenberg and actors Gilles Marini and Jesse Metcalfe were in attendance. You can see a slide show of the event after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Rachofskys make Poz magazine’s 100 list

The December issue of Poz reveals the Poz 100 list featuring those who have made a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Dallas made the list through the work of Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and their Two X Two for AIDS and Art benefit. From Poz.com.

The key to how we do this is, in part, the POZ 100. This year’s list celebrates 100 people, things and ideas that reinvent—and improve—how we tackle HIV.

We would need tens of thousands of pages to celebrate all the wonderful people and organizations bravely and effectively fighting the virus. The purpose of the POZ 100 is to highlight some of those who are making big splashes right now. This year’s list is a little top heavy. By that we mean there are a lot of big names in government and global AIDS on it. But the reality of today’s pinched economy means that all AIDS funding is under heavy artillery fire. And the folks on this list have been taking the hits while defending the perimeter. They have gone to bat for our community when others would like us just to go away. And without leadership on global and domestic AIDS at the highest levels, the money expires—and so could we.

79. The Rachofskys 
Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, superstars in the world of AIDS fund-raising, bring fresh dollars to the mix. To date, their annual “TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art” event has raised more than $29 million jointly benefiting amfAR (of which Cindy is a trustee) and the Dallas Museum of Art. They get art donated to save people from AIDS. Each year, Dallas’s high society scrambles to secure tickets to this event.

—  Rich Lopez

Saturday fundraiser raises close to $5 mil for DMA and amfAR

Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01) by Mark Grotjahn

The star-studded Two x Two for AIDS and Art benefit dinner  and art auction reached a record with an astounding $4.8 million sold in art and other items. The money raised will benefit amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research and the Dallas Museum of Art. Not too shabby. And neither was the event.

Held at the Rachofsky House, the night included appearances by actor Stanley Tucci, singer Patti LaBelle and emceed by Tony-winner John Benjamin Hickey, also a 2011 Two x Two co-chair. Designer Kenneith Cole and amfAR chairman offered remarks. The Saturday event was a sell-out.

“This record-breaking year is testament to the generous donations by artists and dealers worldwide,” Howard Rachofsky said in the press release.  “The artwork by Mark Grotjahn and its $1 million selling price in the live auction took us over the top. Both Cindy and I are speechless. The audience and bidders continue to recognize the outstanding work of both these important institutions and put their hearts and money into this event.”

The $1 million bid for Grotjahn’s Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01), pictured, was the highest on any one piece in the history of the event.

—  Rich Lopez

Death: Burleigh John ‘B.J.’ Smith

Burleigh John “B.J.”  Smith, 62, of Dallas died March 29 from complications due to liver cancer.

Born in Shreveport to the late Bernard Cyril and Gwendolyn Smith, B.J.Smith worked 20 years for Cinemark Theaters as a film buyer before retiring in early 2010. He had a very outgoing and uplifting personality and he never met a stranger. His hobbies and interests included singing with the Turtle Creek Chorale for 11 years, movies, traveling, cooking and enjoying food and wine with friends.

He is survived by his partner of 31 years, Dennis Bellotto,; his sister Lynn Norton and family of Flower Mound; his brother Barney Smith and family of San Antonio; and his cherished cat Lance.

In lieu of flowers, Smith requested that memorial donations be made to AMFAR www.amfar.org or The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society www.lls.org. No formal memorial service is planned at this time.

—  John Wright

Taylor was early and tireless HIV/AIDS advocate

Actress will ‘stand for history on a podium above everyone else’

SANDY COHEN  |  AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES — Elizabeth Taylor was as well known for her AIDS advocacy as she was for her acting.

She was the first celebrity to speak out on the mysterious and socially divisive disease in the 1980s, calling for research, compassionate care and an end to discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.

“I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything,” Taylor once recalled. “And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help.”

She got involved with AIDS activism in 1985 and worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness for the rest of her life, said Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, where Taylor held early fundraisers for AIDS research.

“There have been a lot of incredible warriors in the fight, but she will stand for history on a podium above everyone else,” he said, adding that Taylor had seen firsthand how her friend, Rock Hudson, had lost his battle with AIDS.

In 1985, when the government had done little to educate people about the disease and nurses were afraid to deliver food trays to AIDS patients in hospitals, Taylor, along with a group of physicians, helped establish the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

“This was long before celebrities routinely performed or worked with charities… and the cause she selected was a disease Americans were frightened about,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t just as if she took the risk of attaching her celebrity status to a cause. She picked the most controversial cause at the time. But she was like, ‘I have friends who are dying and I have to do something, and what I can do is help raise money and help raise awareness.”

Taylor, as chairwoman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, visited Capitol Hill to demand that the government live up to its promise to spend nearly $1 billion a year to help people with AIDS with the Ryan White Care Act. She and other stars befriended Ryan White, a teenager from Indiana who, as a hemophiliac, got HIV through a contaminated blood transfusion, was expelled from school because of his infection and became one of the disease’s most prominent early victims.

AmfAR leaders on Wednesday called Taylor “one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS.”

“She was profoundly instrumental in helping us identify the resources which have led to the research that has improved and extended the lives of those with HIV and AIDS,” said Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive of amfAR, which has invested more than $300 million towards AIDS research. “She served actively on our board up until the day she died,” Frost said.

Taylor testified on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s and convinced legislators to care about the disease, Thompson said.

“Every senator showed up. The rooms were packed and people were spellbound,” he said. “She connected HIV and AIDS to a generation that felt itself immune, the over-50 folks. Because Elizabeth Taylor was talking about it, people like my mother were reading about HIV and AIDS.”

Taylor put a public — and beloved — face on the disease.

“At a time when most Americans thought of HIV/AIDS as something that didn’t affect them, her commitment to the issue and considerable star power helped to take the fight against HIV/AIDS right into the mainstream of American society,” said Don Blanchon, who oversees the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., which named its main facility after Taylor in 1993.

Magic Johnson, who put his own face on the disease when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, tweeted his gratitude to Taylor on Wednesday.

“Elizabeth, thank you for all your help in the battle for HIV and AIDS,” he wrote. “You will be missed by the world.”

In 1991, the actress founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which has given more than $12 million to organizations across the country that provide direct care and services to people living with the disease.

Elton John praised his fellow AIDS advocate and entertainer as “a Hollywood giant … and an incredible human being.”

“She earned our adoration for her stunning beauty and for being the very essence of glamorous movie stardom,” John said in a statement Wednesday. “And she earned our enduring love and respect for her compassion and her courage in standing up and speaking out about AIDS when others preferred to bury their heads in the sand.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign said Taylor didn’t just fight for those with HIV and AIDS; she fought for equality for all.

“At a time when so many living with HIV/AIDS were invisible, Dame Taylor fearlessly raised her voice to speak out against injustice,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Dame Taylor was an icon not only in Hollywood, but in the LGBT community where she worked to ensure that everyone was treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve.”

The group recognized Taylor with its Vanguard Award in 2000. “What it comes down to, ultimately, is love,” she said in accepting the honor. “How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance.”

Taylor died Wednesday from congestive heart failure. She was 79.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Taylor in Dallas

Elizabeth Taylor, second from left, and AIDS Services of Dallas Executive Director Don Maison, far right, at Dillard’s at NorthPark Center in Dallas in 1996. (Dallas Voice file photos)

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died today at 79, was a founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Taylor was also chairwoman of amFAR in 1989 when the foundation provided a $100,000 grant that was used to start Resource Center Dallas’ Nelson-Tebedo Clinic. From the Dallas Morning News on Friday, April 28, 1989:

Leaders of the Dallas AIDS Resource Center announced Thursday that the agency had received a $100,000 grant to set up an AIDS research facility that will offer experimental drugs to people suffering from the deadly disease.

“This is a vital component that has been missing in Dallas,’ said William Waybourn, president of the Dallas Gay Alliance, which operates the resource center.

The grant, awarded by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, will establish a community clinic for AIDS research allowing AIDS patients to benefit from experimental treatments. The only other cities with such community research initiatives, as they are called, are New York and San Francisco.

“The need in Texas is particularly great for this type of research program,’ said Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-founder of the AIDS research foundation, which is based in New York. “There is virtually no clinical research being done in Texas. This will be the only opportunity for AIDS patients to get (experimental) drugs.’

The foundation divided $1.4 million among 16 community-based organizations for development of similar AIDS research programs. Groups in Austin and Houston also received grants.

In Dallas, plans are being made to open the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic for AIDS Research this summer at 4012 Cedar Springs Road, next door to the AIDS Resource Center’s offices. The center is named after Bill Nelson, a former president of the Gay Alliance, who has AIDS, and Terry Tebedo, a leader in the AIDS education movement who died from the disease in January 1988.

Later, Taylor would come to Dallas in 1996 and issue checks totaling $15,000 to Bryan’s House and AIDS Services of Dallas. Taylor visited Dillard’s in NorthPark Center to promote her new perfume, Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, and presented the checks to the AIDS services organizations at the end of the event. More pics after the jump.

—  John Wright