Would You Spend $120,000 to Play Poker With Jonah Hill?
Rarely, if ever, have delicate glass sculptures by contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson shared space in an auction catalogue with the option to shadow Harvey Weinstein, the prolific and widely feared Hollywood producer, to social events for a year.
It is as odd a combo as the four “coveted” tickets to a Victoria’s Secret fashion show and “a special private evening with Andrea Bocelli” that also appear in the catalogue for Wednesday’s Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation auction in St. Tropez, France.
"The quality of the art being offered, and the exceptional experiences being offered, is a unique combination," said Simon De Pury, the celebrity auctioneer who will conduct the sale. "We have a number of telephone lines set up for people to bid, then there are people in the room. It's a very international attendance."
This is DiCaprio’s third auction. The first raised over $25 million; the second, more than $40 million. This time around, a diverse array of offerings reflects the actor’s prominence not only in Hollywood but in the art world. Yes, attendees and online bidders can spend €100,000 ($110,000) on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Conan the Barbarian Sword” or €50,000 to “experience the impact of Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s commitment to protecting elephants in the wild in Kenya with Adrien Brody.” But they also have the opportunity to bid on an array of highly sought-after artworks that rarely come to auction.
"Because Leonardo DiCaprio is so passionate about art and on friendly terms with most of the artists of our time," said De Pury, "when he asked for some donations to be made, the artists have donated consistently strong works."
Lot 63, for instance, is a watercolor by Camille Henrot, a young French artist who in 2014 had a solo show at New York’s New Museum, and whose art filled the Nordic Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Henrot’s work has appeared at auction just four times, according to Artnet analytics. The work in question carries a low estimate of €30,000.
Similarly, there’s an oil painting by German artist Jana Euler, whose work has been shown at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Kunsthalle in Zurich. Her paintings have never once come to auction, according to Artnet, but whoever is willing to spend a minimum of €49,500 can get one tomorrow. (The work was co-donated by Euler and her Berlin gallery, Galerie Neu.)
There are also pieces by more established artists. Jeff Koons donated an oil painting with a glass ball embedded in its center, Gazing Ball (Manet Spanish Singer) which carries a current estimate of €1.98 million. An abstract, mixed-media-on-linen painting by George Condo has a starting bid of €360,000; a colored-gunpowder-on-canvas work by Chinese superstar artist Cai Guo-Qiang has a current bid of €440,000; and a portrait of DiCaprio by Damien Hirst (title: Beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio Looking Away Painting, 2016) which carries a low estimate of €200,000.
Whether these works prove to be a bigger draw than, say, playing a game of Texas Hold ‘Em with Edward Norton and Jonah Hill (current bid: €110,000) or a 1950 Jaguar signed by “Hollywood Royalty,” including Mark Wahlberg, Angelina Jolie, and Justin Timberlake (current bid: €165,000), remains to be seen. Proceeds from the sale, the catalogue says, go to “granting millions of dollars to pioneering individuals and organizations who are on the front lines of environmental conservation and climate advocacy.”