By Delinda Lombardo on
Sotheby’s was seeing red last week as Bono and artist Damien Hirst organized a Valentine’s Day auction of more than 60 works of art to raise funds for Bono’s (RED) charity. And by by the end of the night, the U2 frontman had rallied deep-pocketed bidders to make the AIDS charity auction a raging success to the tune of $42.6 million.
“It is a historic night for artists” said Bono, “An extraordinary night in New York City. I am very moved.”
The U2 frontman was flanked by celebrity pals as he led the guests in a sing-along of the Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’. “I see myself as a servant for Africa,” Bono said, “Tonight is about the awareness of AIDS and the medical treatment that can strongly aid in the demise of this disease.”
Throngs of celebrity bidders were on hand to snatch up items such as a steel and glass cabinet by Hirst called ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way,’ which fetched $7.15M. The cabinet was filled with drugs to treat HIV.
“I have watched people dying for lack of these pills,” Bono said after the sale. “I actually can’t quantify how many people that will keep alive. It’s not just the money we made tonight, it’s the excitement around the issue.”
Model Christy Turlington bought Francesco Clemente’s ‘Red Flower on Scorched Earth’ for $155,000, even though it was valued at $70,000.
“When I first saw the catalog, I loved this piece the most,‘’ Turlington said after the sale. "It was completely impulsive.’’
Bono seems to inspire the best of people, so it’s no surprise that most auction items were sold for well above their estimated value.
“Tonight we got serious about love, and not just the love of art, but the love of our brothers and sisters suffering from Aids in the poorest places on the planet,” he said.
A work by London street artist Banksy sold for $1.7M, though it had been valued at no more than $350,000; Murakami’s ‘Red Flower Ball’ was estimated at $700,000, but sold for $1.5M; Richard Prince’s ‘Untitled’ sold for $1.6 million even though the top estimate was $900,000; and Andreas Gursky’s ‘Pyongyang IV’ was valued at $300,000, but adding Bono into the mix led to a final bid of $1.4M.
“I’m never going to be cynical ever again for a while,” Bono said. “We’ve helped change the world a little bit.”
Among those on hand to support the cause were NBC news anchor Brian Williams, R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe, Queen Noor of Jordan, actor Dennis Hopper, tennis star John McEnroe, supermodel Helena Christensen, actor Ed Burns and hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons.
Proceeds from the sale, which was organized at no cost by Bono’s charity organization (RED), will go directly to the United Nations Foundation to support HIV/AIDS relief programs run by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Copyright © 2008 Look to the Stars