Swiss Luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet recently co-sponsored a star-studded benefit that raised $700,000 for the Afghanistan World Foundation (AWF). Also during the gala, world champion boxer Muhammad Ali was honored for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of that country’s children. “Time to Give to Afghanistan,” was held in December at the St. Regis Hotel in Los Angeles.
According to François-Henry Bennahmias, president of Audemars Piguet North America, “Corporations must play a role in helping rebuild the country of Afghanistan.” He said the watch brand and other companies involved were “pleased to be a part of an event that honors Muhammad Ali and the cause of freedom in Afghanistan.”
Audemars Piguet provided 18 timepieces—each engraved with the signature of a celebrity from politics, sports, or entertainment—to be auctioned at the gala by Christie’s auction house. Participants included Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Muhammad Ali, Tom Cruise, Adrien Brody, Al Pacino, Sigourney Weaver, Natalie Cole, Charlize Theron, Julianne Moore, Helen Hunt, Céline Dion, Jessica Lange, Shaquille O’Neal, Faith Hill, Penélope Cruz, Benicio del Toro, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The watches sold as a single lot for $110,000.
The AWF will use funds from the auction to rebuild educational and public health care systems in Afghanistan, with emphasis on child and family services.
Audemars Piguet and NetJets, a provider of luxury private jet aircraft, underwrote the event. Other participants included Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (which donated a 2004 Rolls-Royce Phantom to the auction), and the Robb Report and Worth magazines.
Ali received the AWF Freedom Award for his efforts to aid Afghanistan and its children. “[Ali] has traveled in Afghanistan on behalf of the United Nations, and his efforts earned him the love and respect of the Afghan people,” said AWF founder Sonia Cole. “[He shows how] one person does have the power to make a difference to millions of people. His concern for those in need and suffering crosses oceans and cultures and reaches hearts.”