Here’s a surefire way to spend some time with Scarlett Johansson: An Audemars Piguet watch signed by the film and stage star is one of 27 luxury timepieces slated for the auction block tonight. The Johansson model, with her signature engraved on the back, will probably cost you $32,000 and change.
The goal is to raise $1 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a nonprofit that funds AIDS and breast cancer research and other health initiatives.
The 135-year-old Swiss watchmaker’s Time to Give Foundation partnered with the 2010 Tony Awards for the fundraiser. BC/EFA has given out more than $102 million since 1988.
Twelve watches will be sold during a live auction at the Four Seasons Hotel on E. 57th Street in Manhattan. The other 15 are being placed in a silent online auction.
“We have people flying from Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico,” for the event, said Francois-Henry Bennahmias, North American president and chief operating officer of Audemars Piguet.
Fundraising has been a key part of the company’s marketing strategy, Bennahmias said. Since setting up shop in the U.S. in 2000, the company has raised more than $12 million for charities, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and nonprofits created by by Jay-Z, Quincy Jones, former President Bill Clinton and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This year’s auction is timed to the Tony Awards, which take place on June 13. Actors who signed the limited-edition Audemars Piguet watches include this year’s nominees Johansson and Liev Schreiber from “A View from the Bridge” and Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones, from “A Little Night Music.” Past Tony winners including Cynthia Nixon, Bebe Neuwirth, John Lithgow, Hugh Jackman and Alan Cumming also signed the timepieces.
Meryl Streep, a 1976 Tony nominee, autographed “Lady Millenary,” which has an estimated value of $120,240. The 18-karat pink gold model features a perpetual calendar and 356 diamonds. Estimated values are set about 15 percent above the watches’ retail price because the signatures, make them “a little more unique,” Bennahmias said.
A self-winding Royal Oak signed by Zeta-Jones, a best-actress Tony nominee this year, is valued at about $98,640. Its 18-karat white-gold case sparkles with 306 diamonds. The lot comes with two VIP tickets to the musical and a chance to meet the actress after the performance.
A stainless-steel self-winding chronograph signed by Daniel Radcliffe, nominated for his performance in “Equus” in 2009, could fetch $31,200. Radcliffe returns next season to star in a revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
The most expensive watch, “Las Vegas Strip Tourbillon,” was signed by Jay-Z, a Tony-nominated producer of “Fela!” It has a blackened-steel case with red numbers. The chronograph is made in an edition of 35 and is valued at $217,800.
The live and silent auctions will be followed by a party at Audemars Piguet’s new boutique, also on E. 57th St. Unlike other fundraisers, the 70 to 80 guests will come for free.
“They have to come, eat, drink and support,” Bennahmias said.
(Katya Kazakina is a reporter for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)