Last week Leonardo DiCaprio brought his Hollywood pals to NYC for an art auction at the famed Christie’s Auction House. But this wasn’t your typical Christie’s auction. The charity auction, organized by DiCaprio, was a conservation fundraiser called “The 11th Hour” and it raised $39 million for nature and wildlife conservation projects globally, according to Bloomberg.
The auction was originally estimated to fetch a total between $13 million and $18 million, but the $39 million blew that estimate out of the water, and 13 of the artists broke their record sale prices. Some of the attendees included DiCaprio’s “Great Gatsby” costar Tobey Maguire, along with Bradley Cooper, Salma Heyek, and Mark Ruffalo.
The conservation projects benefited by the charity auction were hand-picked by DiCaprio, Robert F. Kennedy, an advocate for clean water, and Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the late undersea explorer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau. In a speech before the auction began, DiCaprio said the money raised would be used to conserve “the last wild places on earth.”
Many of the pieces of art from the auction depict endangered animals, such as Robert Longo’s “Untitled (Leo)”, a charcoal drawing of a tiger’s head. Its value was estimated between $250,000 and $350,000, but it went for $1.6 million. Rob Pruitt’s technicolor glitter and enamel portrayal of a panda called “6:20pm, Late Summer” went for twice its estimated value, selling at $315,000.
DiCaprio sits on the board of directors of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and his private foundation’s partnership with the World Wildlife Fund was responsible for doubling the number of wild tigers living in Bardia National Park in Nepal, as stated in the auction catalog.
The top lot honors went to Mark Grotjahn’s “Untitled (Standard Lotus No. 11, Bird of Paradise, Tiger Mouth Face 44.01).” Well-known art dealer Larry Gagosian bought it for $6.5 million. Bloomberg states that Toby Usnik, Christie’s chief social responsibility officer, ” believes it was the largest-ever benefit for the environment.” Less than 2 percent of philanthropy money goes to conservation, according to DiCaprio’s remarks in the auction catalog.
We say “Bravo,” Mr. DiCaprio. We can’t wait to see what exciting conservation projects come out of this fundraiser. Want to witness first-hand why tigers have captivated Leonardo DiCaprio’s heart and why he is so concerned about saving them? Come on the Grand India Wildlife Adventure trip with Natural Habitat Adventures this winter!