Saturday, 23 November at Sotheby’s in New York, a standing-room only crowd helped raise more than $26 million for The Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa. The star-studded audience gathered for the (RED) auction celebrating design and innovation, which had been curated by Sir Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson in collaboration with musician and activist Bono. The sale exceeded all expectations totaling more than $13 million, which was matched by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The high-energy salesroom saw a remarkable three lots bring more than $1.5 million, including the two items designed in their entirety by Jony and Marc – a unique Leica Digital Rangefinder Camera, which sold for $1.8 million, and a unique aluminum desk produced by Neal Feay Studio, which brought $1.7 million.
Throughout the evening, the crowd of more than 1,000 guests was treated to a number of spectacular surprises: before auctioneer Oliver Barker opened bidding on lot 12, the Steinway & Sons unique “Red Pops for (RED)” Parlor Grand Piano, Coldplay’s Chris Martin took to the stage to sing “Perfect Day” and “Beautiful Day” with Bono. The performance inspired more than a dozen bidders to compete for the piano, which was sold for $1.9 million.
Later in the evening, lot 23, the Azzedine Alaïa pink couture long ruffle dress, was revealed in the salesroom worn by supermodel Christy Turlington before it sold to applause for $149,000. The final surprise of the evening came at the end of the auction when the Gretsch Electromatic “(RED) Generation” Bono “Signature” Guitar was added to the auction and sold for $250,000.
Bono said, “Jony and Marc are the Beatles and Stones of the design world. The collection they put together should’ve been in a museum but instead they sold it off to buy medicines for those who can’t afford them but whose lives depend on them. The money raised is a lifeline, literally, for so many people, but nights like this also serve as a reminder of the historical opportunity we have to end AIDS. We are at a tipping point in the history of this tiny little virus that has wreaked so much havoc. We have to make sure the Global Fund has the money it needs or we could fail.”
Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple, said, “It’s not every day that you get to curate a collection with your best friend and sell it off to help a lot of people. It’s been thrilling to contribute to the fight against AIDS in this way – by simply immersing ourselves in what we love: good design.”
“The best and most successful design demonstrates humanity and a sense of care for others,” said Marc Newson. “What could be more fitting than to have the opportunity to use the best of design to help continue the fight against AIDS. Thank you Bono, thank you (RED). It’s been an honor and a thrill.”
We are delighted to have been a part of this evening for such a wonderful cause.