By David Hulme & Brigitte Banziger, on 07-Aug-2017

Celebrity charity auctions can be quite a heady experience. Imagine one where the founder is Leonardo DiCaprio and the entertainment includes Madonna and Lenny Kravitz. Put that together with the world’s leading celebrity auctioneer Simon de Pury, and you can be sure that you are going to raise a very considerable sum of money in one evening. Not perhaps as much as a contemporary art sale from one of the international fine art auction houses, but the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation was able to raise in excess of US$30 million just a few days ago in the South of France, by selling a large number of contemporary artworks from leading artists, plus a number of what were termed “unique items and experiences”.

Ben Quilty’s “2017” sold for Euro 50,000 at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Charity auction, making it the artist’s third highest price at auction.

The unique experiences included a race weekend with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, with bidding starting at US$10,000, and a stay on Marlon Brando’s island Tetiaroa in French Polynesia, also starting at US$10,000.

Of course, the real money is in the art, and with contemporary art continuing to enjoy a wave of popularity, the big names were all there for those with the deep pockets.

Damian Hirst produced a spin portrait of the world’s now second most famous footballer David Beckham (after Paris St. Germain just last week paid Euro 222 million to acquire Neymar from Barcelona).

Jeff Koons supplied an updated version of the other Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, whilst Tracey Emin donated one of her neon creations, appropriately named “Because of You, I am here”, 2015.

The list of world famous artists goes on: Richard Prince, Paul McCarthy, Julian Schnabel, and Urs Fischer’s “Fata Morgana”, 2017, reportedly sold for more than US$ 2.5 million.

And then there was Ben Quilty - we could call him Australia’s celebrity artist, so a perfect fit for this prestigious event.

The 58 lots sold in the evening included his painting “2017”. The large oil 265 x 202 cm was not relegated to the remaining 110 lots offered for sale online until 23rd August, but featured as lot 52, making the cut for the big bash event, with details of the Ben Quilty work here

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation informed me that “2017” sold for Euro 50,000 (AU$75,000). A good result given that Quilty’s highest price at auction was set in September 2016 when “One Big One”, 2005, 160.5 x 170 cm, sold for $97,600 IBP at Deutscher + Hackett, and “Frog Torana”, 2003, sold at Menzies in December 2011 for $81,000 IBP. This makes “2017” the third highest auction result for a work by Ben Quilty.



About The Author

David Hulme is a fine art appraiser and an approved valuer for the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program. He and Brigitte Banziger are principals of Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants, Manly, NSW and are members of the Art Consulting Association of Australia.