Angela Simmons and a Ton of Celebs Attend This Year’s Art for Life Benefit (PICS)

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (RPAF) raised $1.25 million at its annual ART FOR LIFE Benefit on July 16th at Fairview Farms in Bridgehampton, NY. Proceeds from ART FOR LIFE benefit the Foundation’s signature arts education and gallery programs, which have directly served tens of thousands of inner-city youth over the past 20 years. This year’s theme was “Back to the Future.”

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The private gala hosted by Gayle King honored Soledad O’Brien, award-winning journalist; Star Jones, TV personality, lawyer and philanthropist; Frank Cooper III, CMO/CCO of BuzzFeed; James Cruz, President Bad Boy Management & Strategic Alliances; Suzanne de Passe, Co-Chair de Passe Jones Entertainment; Debra L. Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks; Alex Waislitz, Founder & Chairman of the Thorney Investment Group Australia & Waislitz Family Foundation; and Artist Nari Ward for their support of the arts, career achievements, and overall commitment to our communities.

Russell Simmons introduced the live auction, which consisted of selling balloons for $1,000 each to support RUSH programs. Russell started off by buying 20 balloons as he introduced the evening’s auctioneer, Star Jones. Jones kept the momentum going, raising $150,000 in just seven minutes.

Guests dined on an all vegan menu dubbed the “compassionate menu” created by Great Performances Executive Sous Chef Mark Russell which featured a Hudson Valley succotash tart, mini meatless wellington, local peach croustade, wild hive farm rye flour croustade, harvest grape verjus, tandoori spiced cauliflower, curried chickpeas, cilantro oil and crispy kale presented on robust slices of whole cauliflower presented as a vegetable “bone-in steak.”

BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY - JULY 16: Tyrese Gibson performs onstage during Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's 2016 ART FOR LIFE Benefit at Fairview Farms on July 16, 2016 in Bridgehampton, New York. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation)
Tyrese Gibson performs onstage (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation)

After dinner, six-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, producer and author Tyrese Gibson got the crowd on their feet with his chart-topping hits “Stay,” “Sweet Lady,” “How You Gonna Act Like That,” “Shame” and an impromptu song about the event. He then passed the mic to Doug E. Fresh for his performances of a medley of 1980s hip hop hits, followed by Whodini performing “Big Mouth,” “Friends,” Freaks Come Out at Night” and “One Love.” DJ M.O.S. kept the dance floor alive long into the night.


Angela Simmons and JoJo Simmons joined their uncles for the evening, making the event a true family celebration. Additional guests included Busta Rhymes, Gayle King, Katie Couric, Miri Ben-Ari, DJ Cassidy, James Lipton, Jeffrey Wright, Hill Harper, Bozoma Saint John, Michelle Collins, Bobbi MacKenzie and Jessica White.

Now through July 28th, this year’s Art For Life features a coinciding Art For Life online auction including experiences with Amy Schumer, Victoria Secret Fashion Show, Al Roker, Arianna Huffington and many more via auction partners Charitybuzz, to support and bid please visit

RPAF is dedicated to providing inner city youth across New York City with significant exposure to the arts, as well as to supporting emerging artists with exhibition opportunities. For additional information about RPAF and ART FOR LIFE, visit

Latoya Henry is the publisher and founder of Haute Giving: The Sexy Side of Philanthropy.
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