After a successful event in London in 2009, Africa Foundation brought their Art for Africa Charity Auction across the pond to New York’s premeire auction house at Southeby’s. The invitation-only event supported the organization’s mission of empowering rural communities in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, and Namibia. The show was founded by philanthropists Tara and Jessica Getty, and South African artist, Beezy Bailey.
While the main purpose of the evening was to raise money to support healthcare, education, and income generating progams in Africa, it was also an opportunity to celebrate both well established and rising international artists like Kehinde Wiley and Hank Willis Thomas. Attendees were able to bid on fifty-four different pieces donated by museums, collectors, and the artists themselves in both a silent and live auction.
There was a diverse array of artistic mediums on display. From Mary Sidande’s 71′ x 76′ x 98.5′ mixed media scultpure/installation , “I decline. I refuse to recline”, to Stephan Fowlkes’ “Masks: Comedy and Tradegy”, the collection expressed an ecletic range of voices.
The evening began with a reception as the silent auction portion of the event continued from the Art for Africa Gala dinner held on Tuesday, October 12. Those interested in purchasing one of the eighteen pieces up for bidding were able to do so throughout the evening by telephone or in attendace at Southeby’s by using a IML bidding device. The display panel on the device kept interested bidders up to date on the current highest bid for each item.
Ross Bleckner’s “Untitled” started the evening with the highest estimated asking price at $18,000 for the silent auction. Other popular pieces from the silent auction were E.V. Day’s “Mummified Barbies” and Kiluanji Kia Henda’s “The Great Italian Nude”, with asking prices of $5000 and $6000 respectively.
The live auction got underway around 7 pm with a surprise performance from world roots band The Brown Rice Family. The Brooklyn Collective opened the festivities with their empowerment anthem, “Believe In Yourself“.
Shortly afterwards, live bidding began on the remaining 33 items beginning with an untitled inkjet print by Nick Cave that eventually sold for $7000. Six different items sold for over $20,000 each, with Gary Komarin’s “A Suite of Blue Sea, Kit Mandor” going for an impressive $40,000, the night’s highest selling piece. Andy Warhol’s unpublished trial proof, “Muhammad Ali, 1978” underwent a fierce bidding war between an ethusiatic art collector in the room and an anonymous bidder over the phone, finally going for $32, 500. Hunt Slonem donated his oil painting, “Away”. The 60 x 70 x 1 inch piece also went for $32,500.