Sharon Stone was the undoubted star of the first ever amFAR benefit event to be held in Venice.

Stone, in town to present Clint Eastwood with a Golden Lion, donated a leather vanity case that she had designed and produced by luxury luggage maker Louis Vuitton. The case was sold for $16,000 to Monaco-based Marto Bertrand. The glamorous Stone then topped that by paying $150,000 for an item that only joined the auction line-up at the last moment; an option to sit for a portrait by celebrated artist Julian Schnabel. Schnabel will be in town later this week with his highly anticipated film Before Night Falls.

In total the event, held at the super-exclusive Fondazione Giorgio Cini, raised over $500,000 for AIDS research.

Other notable guests included Richard Gere, Robert Altman Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Chiara Mastroianni, Dennis Hopper, Patrick Swayze, Milos Forman, Daniel Auteil and Dr Mathilde Krim.

AmFAR today confirmed that it intends to hold a similar event at next year's Venice festival.