Going, Going…Green!


Christie’s auction house bets big on the environment.

Green. It means go. It’s the color of money. And, naturally, it’s the cause that’s bringing power players together to save Planet Earth. In response, Christie’s, one of the world’s biggest auction houses, dug deep into its mega-rolodex of artists, celebrities and collectors to produce A Bid to Save the Earth, the first-of-its-kind “Green Auction” in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Prior to their celeb-filled “Green Carpet” live auction scheduled for April 22 at Rockefeller Center, a companion silent auction in conjunction with leading online charity benefit auctioneers Charitybuzz, launched April 8. It runs through Thursday, May 6, at ABidtoSavetheEarth.org. Christie’s is waiving its commissions and fees and divvying the proceeds between four top-rated nonprofits: Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Central Park Conservancy. As the event’s official media partner, NBC Universal is giving the auction airtime during “Earth Week” from April 19-25, as part of their ongoing Green is Universal campaign.

What’s up on the (online) block? For starters, plenty of earth-centric pieces from some of the art world’s biggest players, such as a panoramic photograph of Central Park by Michael Doven and a no-GMO farmscape oil painting by Karen Klimnik alongside works by Olafur Eliasson, Damien Hirst, Keith Tyson, Zeng Fanzhi and Subodh Gupta created exclusively for the auction. “Science and art are the most powerful forces in the world for changing perception and behavior. It’s a game changer to have the world’s most significant artists coming together in support of these leading environmental NGOs,” says arts patron and event co-chair Susan Cohn Rockefeller. “This is the kind of collective action that will help us meet the tremendous challenges our Earth faces.”

Also on offer in the online auction are a slew of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. “People don’t always want more stuff, but they do want experiences and access,” says Toby Usnik, VP and international head of corporate communications for Christie’s. With luxury vacations to Bali and Belize, a walk through Central Park with Candice Bergen, a tennis lesson with John McEnroe, lunch with Vera Wang followed by a shopping spree at her boutique, guitars autographed by Emmylou Harris, Kid Rock and other country music celebrities, a Star Wars collector’s item signed by Natalie Portman, exclusive outfits from Gucci plus tickets to its Milan runway show, a culinary outing with Alice Waters, a day on-set with Hugh Jackman, and many more packages up for auction – all going for tens of thousands – one bid can make a huge difference for the environment.

“Two years ago we tried to do this and the recession happened and it just didn’t seem like the best time, so we set it aside,” says Usnik. “Almost exactly a year ago, we revisited it and felt passionately that if we didn’t do it someone else was going to.”

Sure, Christie’s, like many other auction houses, regularly sends out its auctioneers to preside over other groups’ charity auctions, but it has never organized a wholly charitable endeavor by itself. “For the first time in our 250-year history, we created a charity and got our 501c3 designation, so we’re now able to legally process charity funds,” says Usnik. “Now we have the infrastructure which really lays the foundation for future charity endeavors for things that come up like Haiti and Chile, instead of having an ad hoc response.”

Don’t think you can afford VIP tickets to a Christina Aguilera concert or falconry lessons with Bobby Kennedy? There are lots of ways to get involved. Visit the site and learn how you can donate directly to the organizations, volunteer at a site near you and “Green Your Routine” with tips from eco-guru Elizabeth Rogers. Or, if you’re more fashionably inclined, purchase a special-edition Loomstate sustainable organic cotton tee at Barneys New York and at Loomstate, priced at $40 in honor of Earth Day’s 40th, with a percentage of proceeds going to green causes.

Check back here for Tonic’s coverage of the big event and visit Christie’s LIVE to follow the auction in real time.

Editor’s note: Article by Angela Gaimari. Originally published by our friends at Tonic.com. Tonic is a digital media company and news source dedicated to promoting the good that happens each day around the world. Tonic tells the stories of people and organizations who are working to make a difference, by inspiring good in themselves and others. Be sure to visit them and say hi, and follow Tonic on Twitter, too!


Image: FlyingSinger