Chris Levine at Sotheby’s (Red) Auction
This December, the third annual (RED) auction raised an incredible $10.5 million to support the fight against AIDS. Artists, architects and designers including Jeff Koons, Christian Louboutin, Chris Levine, Marc Quinn, Zaha Hadid, Jenny Saville and many more donated stunning works centred around the theme of light. Curated by artist Theaster Gates and architect David Adjaye, and organised by Sotheby’s in collaboration with Bono and the Gagosian gallery, this star-studded event is a tribute to the best of humanity: charity and creativity. The iconic Moore Building, designed by Hadid and situated in Miami’s design district was the perfect location for this cutting edge and record-breaking auction.
(RED) was launched by Bono in 2016 and has, to date, raised more than $600 million for the Global Fund in support of lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs across Africa, as well as supporting community-strengthening programs in Chicago with the Rebuild Foundation. Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 16th International AIDS Conference, Bill Gates said that “the Global Fund is one of the best and kindest things people have ever done for one another. It is a fantastic vehicle for scaling up the treatments and preventive tools we have today – to make sure they reach the people who need them.” The Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases, and raises nearly $4 billion every year.
Light Artist Chris Levine donated an iconic portrait of U2, which sold for $25,000. He has previously donated several works to raise money to fight AIDS, including Lightness of Being, which he donated for auction at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s annual Academy Awards Viewing Party earlier this year. He commented “awareness is a critical factor and the global mindset is evolving… anything I can do as an artist to help, now and into the future, is my compassionate duty.” As a light artist who works in pursuit of an expanded state of perception and awareness, his work fits perfectly into the theme of this year's auction. Curator Theater Gates believes that “light really was about, not only the illumination of the truth of the disease, but it was also about a kind of thoughtfulness and intentionality in relationship to darkness.” Sir David Adjaye added that he “really believes in light’s healing ability literally and philosophically”. A true meeting of minds was achieved, as Levine has often spoken about the healing power of light, both individually and collectively.
This event followed in the (giant) footsteps of two previous (RED) auctions organised by Sotheby’s. The first was organised by Bono and Damien Hurst and featured works donated by Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn, Hirst, Banksy, Georg Baselitz and Howard Hodgkin. It set 17 new auction records. This year Theaster Gates, Jennifer Guidi, and Hank Willis Thomas all set personal auction records. Furthermore, the online and live auctions were preceded by a public exhibition presented by Gagosian which opened on World AIDS Day. The exhibition was a beautiful way of raising awareness about AIDS while enabling the public to share in the beauty of this exquisite collection.