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Fergie Fetes Tightwads for Fundraiser

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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La Dolce Vita hosted a benefit for the Duchess of York's Sarah Ferguson foundation Thursday night at Cipriani Wall Street, but instead of living the good life, everyone gave—and received—the cold shoulder. A model menagerie lined the red carpet. Bare legs shivered in gossamer Marc Bouwer creations. Chanel clutches were gripped just a bit more tightly. Fine hair on dainty arms raised in protest. And unsympathetic onlookers feigned pity.

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Inside, the reception was no warmer. Fergie seemed uninterested in doing even cursory laps, choosing instead to remain seated until giving her similarly lifeless speech. L.L. Cool J made preliminary gestures in Clive Davis's direction, but the legendary music man seemed otherwise engaged. In the end, it was British auctioneer Charlie Ross who punctuated the evening's no-love motif. Original signed pieces from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol were removed from the stage after the entire room passed on an opening bid of $30,000. Ross admonished the room of various banking-types: "I was told you were generous. Did no one bring a checkbook?" (Has he not followed the downward value of the U.S. dollar compared to the British pound?)

The event must have cost more than the foundation made, but at least organizers saved money on the gas bill. Aretha Franklin closed the night, demanding with her fur-trimmed coat and ample padding that the heat be turned on to preserve her voice. Deep-pocketed party people balked at that, too.

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