Sharon was the guest of honor for the "Better World" Gala Event at the Marriott. She was running the Auction for the Virtuosa Foundation, which supports a children's hospital in Poland. Round tables filled the large low ceilinged ballroom. Bright multi-colored lights and elaborate dresses made the atmosphere feel like a movie set. It was the annual Cannes film festival, and I was there to record it for the Portugal News.
Sharon Stone looked exactly like what you would expect from a world-famous movie star. Two security men escorted her to the head of the main table.
After some notably poor commentary by the host, the presentation started for the Better World Fund. The idea for the fund is to collaborate across borders to quickly and vastly improve the status of humans across the world.
Aleph Farms uses advanced tech to track food and reduce food waste by up to 90%. 90%!
One woman I talked with is working on an advanced web3 sushi Tuna NFT tracking mechanism. It uses blockchain technology to track and verify the expensive fish traveling across continents securely.
The audience at the gala wasn't very interested. They were in their flashy and presumably costly dresses and suits, talking and chatting during the presentation.
Sharon stood up and left quietly halfway through a video on child poverty.
"She's going," I whispered to my table mates, "The video hasn't even finished!"
"She probably has another gala to make," James, a 24-year-old French rapper, said next to me.
That wasn't the case, though. Thirty minutes later, Sharon reappeared.
She had changed clothes?!
Now she wore a professional deep blue and purple business suit. She was standing at the podium on the main stage. She was giving an impassioned speech on her lifetime of seeing children suffering. The crowd rushed to the stage, and it was difficult to see because everyone had a cell phone recording.
"I just texted with Ukraine President Zelensky," Sharon said. "There is a child hospital that desperately needs your support, and these are children in dire need."
She asked each of us to look at the person next to us.
"No, look." She said and stared right at me. "Actually look at the person next to you. These are the people who will make a difference.
If you don't do it, no one else will."
I looked at the people around me. No one looked back, and they were too busy recording on their phones.
Finally, I stared at the lady next to me until she looked back, smiled, and made sure her camera shot was good.
Sharon grabbed a microphone and took center stage. She raised a Blue and Yellow purse.
"This is a one-of-a-kind Dolce and Gabbana handbag, and it is hand-made with the colors of Ukraine."
She put the purse over her shoulder and posed elegantly.
"You can have this handbag AND the suit I am wearing. The funds will go to Ukraine children. We will open the bidding at $20,000!"
The crowd went quiet.
Diego, a French crypto trader, leaned over to me, "Why bring politics into this? There are a lot of Russians here."
"Anyone?" She said.
After another moment, someone made the minimum bid.
"20,000€, do we have 20,5?"
We didn't have 20,5. There were no other bids.
"Well, I will not take off my clothes for 20,000! That is no deal. I'm sorry. We will put this over here and talk about it later."
She set the bag down on a chair and started the auction.
The rest of the night did not go much better.
Sharon was able to get around 30 people on stage to raise 47,000€ for the Ukrainian children.
My estimate is she sold 150-200,000 worth of beautiful items for the better fund.
Still, several pieces went by with no bids. The audience was losing interest and chatting, and Sharon was not impressed.
"Be quiet, please. We are talking about children with no homes and little hope. I hope you can interrupt your important conversations to consider this."
The crowd didn't listen and kept chatting.
Finally, she had had enough.
"You guys are a bunch of cheap motherf***ers!" She said.
Did I hear that right? I thought.
"These are children in a warzone, and you don't care," Sharon continued. "Is anyone interested in these beautiful artworks that generous people donated? Is anyone interested in helping? No? Then I will not waste any more of my time. If you wish to make a difference, these items will be on the website, and I encourage you to find your generosity. But I am not wasting any more of your or my time."
She grabbed her purse, walked off the stage, and continued right out the door. Security followed her out.
"Wow. That's a star," I said.
James looked over at me, "I think she could have sold more,"