February 5, 2010 / 5:52 PM / 9 years ago

Red hot art going green at charity auction

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - With a sculpture fetching over $100 million at auction this week, it looks like art is still hot. Now, it’s also green.

Christie’s auction house announced this week that it will stage a “green auction” to benefit the environment, with proceeds earmarked for four leading not-for-profit environmental organizations.

“A Bid to Save the Earth” is slated for April 22, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and boasts the participation of a panoply of cultural, business and environmental leaders, from Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford to designer Vera Wang, activist Robert F. Kennedy and Queen Noor, the widow of Jordanian King Hussein.

“It’s a game-changer to have so many passionate and talented people link arms on behalf of the environment,” said Susan Cohn Rockefeller, who is co-chairing the event with husband David Rockefeller Jr., philanthropist and environmental activist.

Rockefeller cited participation from quarters as far-reaching as NBC Universal, Deutsche Bank and Barney’s New York. She cited in particular “the artists who are coming together for this cause, once again challenging, educating and inspiring us with their works.”

Maya Lin and Keith Tyson are among artists who have donated major works, with more expected to sign on.

Hugh Jackman, Christina Aguilera, David Duchovny and Candice Bergen are all donating experiences such as on-set visits, lunches or VIP concert tickets, with jewelry and luxury green travel packages rounding out the offerings.

Proceeds from the gala auction, which will be carried on Christie’s LIVE at www.christies.com, will be divided among Oceana, Conservation International, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Central Park Conservancy.

Other top stars signing on to the host committee include Harrison Ford, Ed Norton, Tobey Maguire, Brooke Shields, Salma Hayek, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin.

Christie’s is waiving all fees and commissions associated with the sale, and a companion silent auction will run from April 8 to May 6 on www.abidtosavetheearth.org. Native Energy will provide carbon offsets — reduced carbon emissions to counter those associated with the event.

While the auction house could not speculate how much might be raised, charity auctions have raked in big bucks in recent years.

Riding a hot market, a sale of contemporary art spearheaded by rocker Bono and British artist Damien Hirst to benefit AIDS in Africa two years ago saw collectors open their wallets and shell out more than $40 million, with prices far exceeding pre-sale estimates.

And while the financial crisis has struck hard, experts say the art market is well on the road to strong recovery in view of the $104 million paid earlier this week at a London auction for Giacometti’s “Walking Man I.”

Raising awareness and stimulating even small donations to environmental concerns is a chief goal of the event, organizers said.

Accordingly, those on a more modest budget will be able to grab a piece of the action, with fashion mecca Barney’s New York offering a series of specially designed $40 T-shirts as a tie-in with the event.

Naturally, they’re 100 certified organic cotton.

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