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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?)

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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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