The actor/director was celebrated at the Entirely Up To You, Darling gala, named after one of his famous catchphrases, which marked the launch of a fund for young filmmakers named in his honour at Britain's National Film and Television School (Nfts).
Spielberg delivered a pre-recorded video message about his dealings with the star, who he directed in dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park, saying, "He's made some of the best movies of all time and has made such a contribution to society, to cinema and to everyone whose hearts he has touched with his words, works, his leadership and that divine inspiration that radiates from that wonderful smile."
Gandhi star Sir Ben Kingsley and former U.K. Prime Minister John Major also appeared in video messages at the event, held at the Old Billingsgate Market venue in London and hosted by Stephen Fry.
Attenborough, 89, did not attend the dinner, but his son Michael addressed the crowd on his father's behalf, reading from a letter written by the movie legend: "I started in movies at the age of 19, and now in my 90th year I am truly proud to be still able to contribute to this magnificent art form of ours."
The gala also included an auction to raise money for the new Lord Attenborough Nfts Charitable Fund, and lots included a pair of glasses worn by Kingsley in Gandhi and costumes seen on Daniel Craig in Skyfall.
The fund aims to raise $1.6 million (£1 million) over two years to help kickstart the careers of talented young filmmakers.
Lord Attenborough has suffered ill health over the last few years and now lives in a London care home with his wife Sheila Sim.