De Niro was the guest of honour as he received the seventh annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film at the event from Douglas himself, who he thanked in his acceptance speech.
Douglas turned 96 on Sunday (09Dec12) so De Niro handed the Spartacus star a special birthday present - a Raging Bull manuscript signed by himself, director Martin Scorsese and co-star Joe Pesci.
He said, "Thank you, Kirk, and happy birthday. This is the way I like to celebrate other people's birthdays, I get the present! Actually though, I do have something for you. I asked your son Michael... what you would like and he said he didn't really know you well enough to say. No, I'm just kidding. He said you might like an original screenplay of Raging Bull. So, Marty Scorsese had one. He was trying to sell it on (auction site) eBay, but he gave it to me to give it to you for $200 bucks. So he and Joe Pesci signed it and I had the girl in my office sign my name. From all of us, happy birthday, Kirk. And it's an honour to receive this gift with your name."
According to HitFix.com, Douglas told the gala's audience he planned to "retire" from presenting his namesake award, but decided to attend the ceremony one last time after learning De Niro was this year's (12) recipient.