By Kathryn Tully
There are times when you despair about the art market’s fixation with the price of art, rather than the art itself, but last night everyone was celebrating the huge amount of cash raised at a contemporary art auction to benefit the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation at Christie’s in New York. All the proceeds will directly fund global conservation projects to create sanctuaries and protect natural habitats to save endangered species from extinction.
The sale of 33 art works that DiCaprio had persuaded artists to donate or create especially for the 11th Hour Action raised $31.7 million on the night, blowing away all the pre-sale estimates and setting 13 new price records for artists at auction. Once donations to the foundation from collectors were included, including a $5 million donation for big cat conservation, the grand total came to $38.8 million, minus Christie’s reduced buyers premium for the night of 5%.
Buyers registered from 33 different countries for the auction, where every lot sold, most of them for way over the estimate. That made it the most valuable charity auction to support conservation projects, which is important, because as DiCaprio mentioned in his opening speech, less than 2% of philanthropic dollars globally support conservation projects, despite the fact that 140,000 animal and plant species are becoming extinct every year, which is 10,000 times the historic extinction rate.
“We are facing a tipping point of environmental crisis unprecedented in human history and our very survival is dependent on protecting nature,” he said. “There are less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild, we’ve lost 90% of the world’s sharks, and it looks like we might lose the African elephant entirely in the next 10 years if we don’t take action.” More....