Art/Auction logl

(AUCTION) Red at Sotheby's New York

February 14, 2008, Valentines Day

Bono, Damien Hirst and leading contemporary artists and the Gagosian Gallery contribute to "Red" auction to Benefit the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria


Pre-sale exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery at 522 West 21st Street, February 4-13, 2008

Bono and Damien Hirst

Bono and Damien Hirst in front of "Dicaprian" by Hirst," Copyright: Damien Hirst, Courtesy: Gagosian Gallery; Photo credit: Rob McKeever

By Michele Leight

The Gagosian Gallery on 21st Street in New York was glowing at a press preview with beautiful artworks donated by leading contemporary artists for (AUCTION) Red that will take place at Sotheby's New York on Valentines Day, February 14, 2008 at 7 PM. The paint was still fresh on some of the canvases, the pigment dazzling, a compelling reminder of the creative process.

Gagosian Gallery exhibition with "Balloon Rabbit" by Jeff Koons, right

Lot 59, "226.5 Arc X 4,"by Bernar Venet, rolled steel sculpture, center, 100 3/4 by 101 1/8 by 18 7/8 inches, 2001, estimate $120,000 to $180,000; Lot 49, "Ballon Rabbit Wall Relief (RED)," by Jeff Koons, silkscreen on stainless steel, 115 by 53 1/8 by 1 1/4 inches, 2008, right, estimate $800,000 to $1,200,000, in exhibition at Gagosian Gallery. Lot 59 sold for $297,000. Lot 49 sold for $2,035,000.

All photographs except the one at the top of the article by Michele Leight

"Red," the color of love, is a recurring theme at this ground-breaking exhibition and auction, and it is not coincidental. The exhibition is on view from February 4 to February 13 at The Gagosian Gallery. "(AUCTION) Red" is expected to realize between $21 million to $29 million, and will benefit The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, specifically for treatment and medications for women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

"Stratospheric Ozone" by Marc Quinn

Lot 4, "Stratospheric Ozone," by Marc Quinn, oil on canvas, 93 1/2 bu 1-- 3/8 inches, 2007, estimate $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $330,000.

After being approached by Bono, the activist and lead singer of the rock group U2, Damien Hirst contacted over 100 artists and asked them to contribute works for the auction inspired by the color red. The response was overwhelming.

Among the artists that donated paintings, sculpture and works in mixed media are Matthew Barney (b. 1967), Banksy (b. 1975), Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956), Jasper Johns (b. 1930), Tom Friedman (b. 1965), Sir Howard Hodgkin (b. 1932), George Baselitz (b. 1938), Francesco Clemente (b. 1952), Cecily Brown (b. 1969), Subodh Gupta (b. 1964), Anish Kapoor (b. 1954), Julian Schnabel, Sean Scully (b. 1945), Ghada Ahmer (b. 1963), Robert Rauschenberg, Andreas Gursky (b. 1955), Marc Quinn (b. 1964), Ed Ruscha (b. 1937), Richard Prince (b. 1949), Willem de Kooning (1904-1977), Jeff Koons (b. 1955), Chuck Close , Takashi Murakami (b. 1962), Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945), among many others, all of them well known.

"All You Need Is Love" by Hirst

Lot 16, "All You Need Is Love," butterflies and household gloss paint on canvas, 84 1/4 inches by 84 1/2 inches, by Damien Hirst, 2006, estimate $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $2,420,000.

"The effort of these artists is considerable, the impact immeasurable" said Bono.

Artists have always pushed boundaries and blazed a trail through conventional thinking; but it is a vital step forward that Bono, a legendary musical artist and activist, and Damien Hirst, one of the most incisive and often controversial contemporary artists in the world, (a good sign), have teamed up with other artists to organize the most important charity auction at Sotheby's of Contemporary Art ever, with the support of (RED), Sothebys and The Gagosian Gallery.

"Where There's a Will There's a Way" by Hirst

Lot 54, "Where There's a Will There's a Way," by Damien Hirst, stainless steel and glass cabinet with painted resin, plaster and cast metal pills, 72 by 108 by 4 inches, 2007, estimate $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $7,150,000.

Damien Hirst's heart shaped painting "All You Need Is Love," says it all, and his pill cabinet "Where There's a Will There's a Way," filled with HIV antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV, is especially strong. Millicent Willner, Director of Gagosian Gallery London said:

"Damien's commitment to this project has been tremendous and his enthusiasm has inspired other great artists to give truly exciting and impressive works. The (RED) exhibition and auction highlight the best of art being made today and we are delighted to contribute to this worthy cause."

Detail of "Where There's a Will There's a Way" by Hirst

Detail of Lot 54, "Where There's a Will There's a Way," by Damien Hirst, stainless steel and glass cabinet with painted resin, plaster and cast metal pills, 72 by 108 by 4 inches, 2007, estimate $5,000,000 to $7,000,000

Hirst has contributed seven works to the auction valued at over $9 million. All the artists have donated their work outright for this auction, which is expected to realize $21 million to $29 million. The sale total was $42.5 million.

"I remember when I couldn't give my art away; it wasn't long ago either," said Hirst. "What is there left to say? Money is a key and what we raise from this auction will make a huge difference for a lot of people. For a relatively small amount of effort on each artists part we can actually save man lives. it's great to be able to give something back and make a difference."

"Red Bird" by Tomaselli

Lot 42, "Red Bird," by Fred Tomaselli, photo-collage and gouache on unique photogram, 24 inches square, 2007, estimate $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $264,000.

"Look at this list of names," said Bono, "This the best collection of art from the best artists in the world. I love art for art's sake but what we have here is a real moment in art history. Damien is being too modest. The effort of these artists is considerable, the impact immeasurable. His "Where There's a Will There's a Way" provides the neatest, completest metaphor: a pill-becomes-art-becomes-a-pill, that's as close to framing saving a life as you're going to get."

The "pill cabinet" and "HIV Aids, Drugs Combination," illustrated in this review, by Damien Hirst, captures a bizarre phenomenon - a cocktail that can keep millions of people with AIDS alive ((for 40 cents a day), but most of them cannot afford the miracle drugs. So, they suffer and die, with spouses, children and families standing by helplessly - when the medications exist.

"Sunday Lunch" by Gupta

Lot 4, "Sunday Lunch," by Subodh Gupta, oil on enamel on canvas, 66 1/8 by 90 inches, 2007, estimate $180,000 to $250,000. It sold for $462,000.

Millions more are at risk for HIV/AIDS for this reason, helpless against the power elites that control their fate that have yet to pull out of reverse gear and turn the tide on this humanitarian disaster. Often, those who die from AIDS (because they cannot afford the meds) leave behind orphaned children. In Africa alone there are a staggering 11.4 million of them. Affordable medications are critical to pushing the HIV/AIDS epidemic back, even here in the US: which makes (AUCTION) Red really imporant.

While great strides have been made in the US and other industrialized nations to intervene so that babies do not become infected with the HIV virus, (that causes AIDS), babies in developing nations are in still at risk, unless their mothers receive anti-retroviral medications. Back in 2000, I wrote my first report about the AIDS pandemic, and in it I said a baby with AIDS is the greatest atrocity in the world - because it is entirely preventable. Eight years have passed, and babies are still being born with HIV/AIDS because their parents cannot afford antiretroviral medications.

Sculpture center by Venet and painting, right, by Sean Scully

Bernar Venet, "226.5"ARC X 4," by Bernar Venet, rolled steel, 2001, estimate $120,000 to $180,000, center; Lot 66, "Lost Light 02 07," oil on canvas, by Sean Scully, 84 by 72 inches, 2007, estimate $500,000 to $700,000, right. Lot 66 sold for $715,000.

We live in a time of awesome medical achievements, and life saving medications, but according to an Oxfam Briefing Paper "Investing for Life," 85% of the world's population is being priced out of the market, and millions of them are at risk for or already have HIV/AIDS. This is a situation no historian or humanitarian of the past could have conceived or predicted.

In sharp contrast to those who could help change the status quo but choose not to are the movers and shakers on the opposite side of the fence, notably Bono, who has harnessed his fame on behalf of the voiceless millions that cannot afford AIDS medications. A visionary, Bono favors a positive, creative approach to raising awareness for this modern health and humanitarian disaster, his music being the most obvious example, but recently also through his powerful participation in (PROJECT) RED, of which (AUCTION) Red is a part.

"Red Flower Ball (3-0)" by Murakami

Lot 3, "Red Flower Ball (3-0)," by Takashi Murakami, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, 59 inches in diameter, 2007, estimate $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $1,650,000.

What is (RED)?

Bono and Bobby Shriver founded (RED) in response to to the 22.5 million people in Africa living with HIV/AIDS, the continent the hardest hit by the virus - representing 10% of the world's population, but with a disproportionately large infection rate (69%). At present 33.2 million live with the disease globally. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa, with roughly 4,400 people dying every day. Sadly, women make up almost 61% of adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, so they - and inevitably their children - are the hardest hit by the disease. The survival of these endangered children becomes more likely whenever an adult begins AIDS treatment, including antiretroviral drugs. Almost 2000 children are infected with HIV each day, most within sub-Saharan Africa.

Works by Orozco, Blake and Quinn, left to right

Lot 71, "Samurai Tree 10," by Gabriel Orozco, tempera and burnished gold leaf on canvas, 29 1/2 inches square, 2007, estimate $180,000 to $250,000, left; Lot 5, "Love," by Sir Peter Blake, R.A., enamel paint wood collage and found red objects mounted on panel, 2007 estimate $50,000 to $70,000, center; Lot 23, "Red Sphinx," by Marc Quinn, painted bronze, 27 5/8 by 25 1/4 by 21 5/8 inches, 2007, $250,000 to $350,000, right. Lot 71 sold for $308,000. Lot 5 sold for $418,000. Lot 23 sold for $605,000.

11.4 million children have been orphaned thus far, and this number is growing. It costs only 40 cents to fund the two pills (illustrated in Damien Hirsts painting) that keeps someone with HIV in Africa alive - which also enables children to continue to have parents to support and protect them. To date, 70% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than two dollars a day and cannot afford this vital medication. AIDS is a preventable, treatable disease in Africa if the means exist to buy and administer the medicine that is needed.

(RED) engages business and consumer power to do this, providing people with the chance to stay alive, care for their families and continue to be valued contributors to their community - through the purchase of the two pills a day, and the support regime, they need to stay alive.

"Untitled (The Velvets" by Prince

Lot 48, "Untitled (The Velvets)," by Richard Prince, collage and acrylic on canvas, 80 by 120 inches, 2007, estimate $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $1,760,000.

Oprah's show for the launch of (RED) in the US in October 2006 made a lasting impression, when, accompanied by an elated Bono (who bought a pair of snazzy "RED" Armani "shades"), she went on a televised shopping spree, and bought a clutch of (RED) IPods, among many other wonderful (RED) products.

Immediately afterwards, crimson "RED" products and clothing mushroomed in stores across the United States. Red sweat shirts at the GAP, slick red IPods and Motorola RAZRS, red Dell computers, red Converse sneakers, and other Microsoft, Armani, Hallmark and American Express (UK) products sporting the (RED) brand label made a powerful statement. For the first time, simply buying something in a retail store helped others get medicines in Africa who were trying to fight a deadly virus, AIDS. The highly publicized, global launch of (RED) took place in the UK earlier in March of 2006. (RED) products are visible all over the world today, an ingenius marketing concept, with "heart" built into its strategy.

The businesses and corporations mentioned above are the current partners in the (RED) brand, designed to engage business and consumer power in the fight against AIDS in Africa. (RED) works with the world's best brands to make unique (PRODUCT) RED-branded products, and direct up to 50% of their gross profits to the Global Fund to invest in African AIDS programs with a focus on women and children. (RED) is not a charity or "campaign". It is an economic initiative that aims to deliver a sustainable flow of private sector money to the Global Fund.

Works by, left to right, Barney, Samba, Friedman, Kiefer

Lot 47, "New Sun," by Matthew Barney, cibachrome in self-lubricating plastic frame, 48 by 45 inches, number 6 from an edition of 6 plus 1 artist's proof, 2007, estimate $70,000 to $90,000, left; "J'aime la Couleur," by Cheri Samba, acrylic and glitter on canvas, 2007, estimate $30,000 to $40,000, top; Lot 40, "Packing Peanuts Figure," by Tom Friedman, packing foam peanuts, monofilaments and glue, 12 by 67 by 22 inches, 2007, estimate $200,000 to $300,000, center; Lot 62, "Makulisten Immaculisten," by Anselm Kiefer, oil, emulsion, clay, shellac, lead and iron item on cardboard on plywood covered with glass, 74 7/8 by 55 1/8 inches, 2007, estimate $400,000 to $600,000, right. Lot 47 sold for $137,500. Lot 40 sold for $286,000. Lot 62 sold for $440,000.

Since its launch in March 2006, (RED) has generated almost $58 million for The Global Fund - more than eleven times the amount that businesses have contributed to The Global Fund since it was founded in 2002. This money is currently at work on the ground in Africa, providing antiretroviral treatment for HIV positive individuals, funding HIV prevention programs, feeding and educating children orphaned by AIDS, and providing the low-cost treatments needed to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV from mother to child.

"(RED) keeps being so innovative, " said Dr. Michael Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, "the RED auction is a wonderful idea, the list of artists incredibly impressive. In one year, (RED) has become one of the key donors to the Global Fund, helping thousands of AIDS patients access life-saving treatment in Africa. This is truly solidarity without borders."

Since its creation in 2002 The Global Fund - the recipient of (RED) funds - has become the worlds pre-eminent funder of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which collectively kill over six million people each year. It provides over 20% of all international finance against AIDS and two-thirds of global financing for TB and malaria. The Global Fund has committed over $8.4 billion to life saving programs in 136 countries, that has so far provided AIDS treatment for 1.1 million people, tuberchulosis treatment for 2.9 million people, and distribution of 30 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria worldwide.

"House" by Hodgkin

Lot 67, "House," by Sir Howard Hodgkin, oil on wood, 56 1/2 by 72 1/2 inches, 2005-2007, estimate $650,000 to $750,000. It sold for $792,000.

The Global Fund directs (RED) dollars to specific AIDS programs in Africa with a focus on women and children. It is a performance based funder, continuing to fund only programs whose results and expenditures meet ongoing verification by financial auditors. 100% of the (RED) money is put to work on the ground in these grants. Global fund (RED) grants are among the best performing programs within the Global Funds extensive portfolio of AIDS grants in Africa, ensuring that every dollar raised is translated into lives saved, and that every life saved is accounted for. As with all Global Fund grants, performance and financial accountability in these grants are continuously verified, so that Global Fun-fundedprograms receive funding only when expenditures and results have been approved by financial auditors who work with the grants in-country.

The Global Fund is a unique, global public-private partnership governed by representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society and affected communities from all over the world, with an innovative, performance-based approach to international health financing. It enables countries to design and execute their own programs, but provides funds only on the basis of technical feasability, performance and proven results. The Global Fund is a lean institution with operating costs of 3%, (not applicable to (RED) Funds), ensuring that resources go directly to where they are needed most. The Global Fund continues to seek sustainable, additional resources from all sectors to continue scaling up the support for life saving work around the world.

"Hippopotamus" by Holler

Lot 37, "Hippopotamus," by, Carsten Holler, colored polyurethane, natural horn, colored glass, 11 7/8 bu 35 1/2 by 21 5/8 inches, number 5 from an edition of 5 plus 2 artist's proofs, 2007, estimate $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $198,000.

The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations causes. The Foundation acts to to meet the most urgent challenges of the 21st century through grantmaking and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships. It also works to strengthen the US-UN relationship and broaden support for the UN through public education, advocacy and outreach.

Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby's Chairman of Contemporary Art for Europe, and Oliver Barker, Sotheby's Senior Specialist of Contemporary Art in London said:

"We are so proud to be involved in such an extraordinary, fresh and original project and to be able to suport (RED) and the Global Fund. Many of the most creative and spirited artists working in the world today have been exceptionally generous with their donations and we look forward to an historic sale."

Bono has been a tireless advocate for the faceless, voiceless, endangered millions that cannot take on the powers that control their fate, and the fate of millions of children that are too beautiful in spirit to understand how callous human beings can be. Thankfully, now these children can see that there are those who care.

The (Auction) RED catalog is a keepsake, filled with the work of giants of contemporary art who have taken the time to support this worthy cause, with Damien Hists blue butterflies fluttering on a red background on the cover. In the introduction to the catalog Bono writes:

"I have a friend in the US Congress, Tom Lantos, a Hungarian Jew who as a child was sent to a concentration camp on the train with his family. Years later his dreams were haunted not by the spectres he encountered in those dead spaces - under the Nazi jackboot - but rather by the blank stares of his neighbors, the bystanders who had watched them being put on the train. The people who never asked where the trains were going, but even as a child he sensed they knew it wasn't anywhere that they would want to go."

Like Bono, Hirst and other outspoken advocates for those people that are suffering with HIV/AIDS, it is necessary for us ordinary citizens and bystanders to make a lot more noise if the cost of AIDS medications is to come down for people that cannot afford them - a staggering 85% of the world's population, including millions in The United States.

Closing the gap between the "haves and have-nots" has never been easy. Historically, those with the power and profits hold on to them, fiercely, but there has never been quite such an imbalance between the ability to conquer a disease, and not being able to do it - for all the wrong reasons - as there is today with HIV/AIDS.

"Ruined landscape" by Banksy

Lot 69, "Ruined Landscape," by Banksy, oil and spray paint on canvas, 19 3/4 by 23 5/8 inches, 2007, estimate $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $385,000.

It takes a wondeful collaboration like this auction to show the world how to roll back the negativity and inertia, and turn inaction into results.

I really would like to own Damien Hirst's "All You Need is Love," or his "Beautiful Red Spin Painting," (estimate $600,000-800,000), but if that is not an option I would be happy with a juicy (RED) IPod for Valentines Day. When I listen to my favorite tunes, I will think that the proceeds from its sale will probably preserve the life of one treasured mom or dad for a child in Africa. That is amazing.

If you think your little purchase of a (RED) T shirt or sweatshirt will not make a difference - just remember that (RED) has delivered a whopping $58 million to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberchulosis and Malaria so far - and still counting, every sngle day. That money represents millions of ordinary folk like us making a huge difference shopping.

It is mind-blowing to think about the difference this single auction will make for so many people that really need help in Africa.

"(AUCTION) Red" is by ticket only at Sotheby's, 1334 York Avenue, New York, on February 14th - Valentine's Day - at 7 PM. So please reserve your seat and your paddle! This is a great way to show your love for art and for humanity - a win/win combination.

More Information:


"Harvest of Innocence," a book by Michele Leight, founder of Ashraya-New York, available now on, seeks to raise awareness about risky behavior, health, poverty and AIDS

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