“But there is nothing we can’t achieve when we bring good people together,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told the crowd of 700 over dinner in a speech that seemed campaign ready.
Former President Bill Clinton gave a tribute as well. He said the impressive charity work of Mr. John and his husband, David Furnish, was like a beautiful song. “All our lives are like candles in the wind,” he said, adding that what matters is “what they’re burning for.”
He sat at the head table with Governor Cuomo, Sting, Lily Safra, Lynn Wyatt and Donna Karan, and gamely posed for selfie requests throughout the night. There was plenty of turbo-mingling, of course. Glenn Close in a black velvet dress chatted with Mike Ovitz at one table, Susan Lucci and Nelson DeMille at another.
During the live auction, when gubernatorial election results were being checked on phones, Alec Baldwin encouraged upward bidding with an imitation of both Mr. Clinton and President Trump. And even though Neil Patrick Harris, as master of ceremonies, did his best to move things along, Mr. John didn’t finish a final, teary speech until late into the night. “We need more humanity, more love,” he told the crowd.
Close to 11, Aretha Franklin, who has battled illness recently, took to the stage in an embroidered dress and white stole.
Although she seemed a little fragile, she prevailed, singing in sweet, straining and soulful tones about troubled waters, prayer and hope.