May 13, 2013

Can Art Save Biodiversity? ~ Lucy Olivia Smith

Peter Beard

Christie’s Fine Art Auction for the Benefit of the Environment

An interesting initiative is on the horizon—on May 13th, the prestigious Fine Art Auction House Christie’s will be holding an auction but this year they are doing something novel.

This year, they are hosting a parallel auction to benefit the environment.

Artists were approached directly by Christie’s vice president Loic Gouzer and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio and asked to donate a piece of work to be sold at the Auction to benefit the environment—and specifically wildlife biodiversity.

The response from artists was astounding and some of the biggest names in the business signed up, bringing 34 pieces into The 11th Hour Auction. Among some of the artists who donated pieces are the infamous street artists turned fine art connoisseur Banksy, others include Robert RauschenbergKai AlthoffPeter BeardTakashi MurakamiJulian Schanbel and Walton Ford—just to name a few.

A quick look through the programme shows that these pieces sell for a lot of money and The 11th Hour Auction is expected to raise somewhere between $20-$40 million USD.

All proceeds will go to environmental projects administered through Leonardo DiCaprio’s Foundation. The name, The 11th Hour Auction, echoes DiCaprio’s 2007 film.

Christie’s has also decided not to take its traditional pay cut.

While The 11th Hour Auction may have some environmental sticklers and politicians rolling their eyes, it is, in my opinion, an incredible example of an innovative approach to raising awareness about environmental conservation and getting the funding to do actually do it.

Conservation costs money and depends on the inclusion and passion of individuals that can bring in the big bucks, or that have the big bucks. While the private and public sector often sit on opposite sides of the fence, the integration of the two has never been more pressing.

As Loic Gouzer, vice president of contemporary art at Christie’s writes,

“At this very moment, entire ecosystems are being destroyed, species are becoming extinct and the treasures of our planet are being looted on an industrial scale with a military precision.”

NGOs around the world often struggle to finance their work and can’t pay their employees competitive salaries, nor effectively implement their projects. Approaches to public sector initiatives that integrate the private sector in ways other than simply pointing a finger are important not only for harnessing much needed cash but for raising awareness and legitimate concern among an audience that is probably largely unaware of ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, and deforestation.

So, it can be considered a great success that inside the grand halls of this auction, people in suits with paddles and numbers will be bidding away and contributing to potentially the largest environmental fundraiser yet.

Lucy Olivia Smith is a researcher at Ecologic Institute in Berlin Germany. She is also an amateur explorer and adventurer and is wildy passionate about the planet and travel.







Like elephant culture on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant Journal  |  Contribution: 1,510,185