Christie’s has announced a partnership with amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research to bring a contemporary art auction in June to benefit the foundation’s recently established initiative to raise funding for coronavirus research. The news comes after amfAR’s cancellation of its major annual fundraising event in Cannes, which raised a total of $15 million for research funding in its 2019 edition.
Named From the Studio, the auction series will comprise a group of contemporary artworks donated by both prominent collectors and by participating artists, including newly produced works. Christie’s has tapped Michael Nevin, director of New York’s The Journal Gallery to source works by contemporary artists that are completely new to the market. Nevin launched a new online format for the Tribeca gallery in 2017 with Tennis Elbow, a series of weekly rotating solo exhibitions showcasing works by up and coming artists. The charity auction is slated to take place during Christie’s upcoming marquee 20th Century week sales of impressionist, modern and post-war and contemporary art in New York.
The announcement comes with a wave of charitable initiatives across the art market that are utilizing expanding digital tools to showcase works coming up for sale. The Contemporary art market segment has now seen a host of partnerships pledging to bring novel works to the market—an option that has the potential both to attract primary market buyers, while alleviating the task of sourcing consignments in a risky market climate.
Marc Porter, Chairman, Christie’s Americas notes the intersection of efforts in the current pandemic crisis. “Through this partnership, Christie’s and amfAR are creating a convening moment for the global art world to support these important efforts and to honor the generosity of each of the participating artists, some of whom have been creating new works while self-isolating under the threat of this deadly new virus” said Porter.
The news of the charity auction comes with a key strategy around expanding engagement with both an emerging and established sector of contemporary art clients. Nevin’s participation in the project indicates a growing initiative across the top ranks of the commercial art market—targeting key clientele through varied digital access. Christie’s reported it will announce upcoming details of the works donated in May, which will be accompanied by a digital content produced in collaboration with the auction’s “project curator” as well as the contemporary artists who are participating in the sale series.
Co-founded in 1984 by Elizabeth Taylor, amfAR holds a long history with contemporary artists and established collectors, whose early supporters include Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. The organization has a roster of milestone art donations establishing it at the forefront of the art world’s charitable partners, with a network of prominent philanthropic leaders. Among the top auction moments for the foundation was the donation of Damien Hirst’s gilded mammoth, which raised a total of $15 million in the May 2014 edition of amfAR’s Cinema Against Aids gala. Among the other major galas held across its global program of events, the organization also stages the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art with the Dallas Museum of Art at the storied Rachofsky House in Dallas— a highly anticipated event in the auction world which has attracted significant collectors, foremost artists and institutional leaders throughout the industry.