War in Ukraine: Mobilizing auction houses for a noble cause

The cultural world continues to mobilize for Ukraine, more than two months after the Russian invasion. Christie’s, an international auction company, has announced plans to donate $1 million to three charities helping the people of Ukraine through a series of auctions it is hosting this spring.

The first is a private exhibition and sale, entitled “Safeguarding the Irreplaceable”, running online and in London until May 5. It consists of one hundred pieces produced by Ukrainian and Ukrainian artists or belonging to the diaspora. Among them, about twenty photos and artistic videos, selected by Peter Doroshenko, director of the American museum Dallas Contemporary. In particular, collectors can try to acquire sepia works by Boris Mikhailov from his series “Salt Lake” or photographs by Odessa photographer Ira Lupu.

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The “Safeguarding the Irreplaceable” exhibition also showcases a dozen paintings by modernist painters such as Maria Siniakova and David Bourliouk, as well as the personal collection of the late patron of the art, Yakov Peremen. Part of the commission from this event will be donated to the American non-profit organization World Monuments Fund, to help preserve Ukrainian heritage. And urgent action is needed: UNESCO, in a March 3 press release, raised the alarm about the damage inflicted on the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv, both of which were targets of Russian bombing.

Christie’s will also be auctioning a dozen contemporary works on May 13 that have been donated by artists and art galleries in support of the MSF campaign in Ukraine. This is the case with two drawings by Yoshitomo Nara, estimates of which range from $80,000 to $150,000; as well as a series of photos by Russian photographer Boris Mikhailov.

Kenny Scharf’s “Frackattack” and Gina Beavers’ “Invisible Lip” will go on sale the same day to raise money for the CORE Foundation. The first is estimated to be between $100,000 and $150,000, while the second can be awarded between $40,000 and $60,000. “The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is one of the most heartbreaking moments in our lives and an emergency for the whole world. This is a pivotal moment for us, not only to support the resilient population of Ukraine, but also for humanity itself.”Sean Penn, who runs the CORE Foundation with Ann Lee, said in a statement.

Philips in an uproar

Christie’s isn’t the only auction house to take the initiative to donate a portion of its profits to charities working in Ukraine. Phillips donated the fee for his sale of contemporary and 20th-century art on March 3 to the Ukrainian Red Cross, for an amount of seven million euros. A charitable initiative… but not only. The British auction house was in turmoil after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. The reason ? It has been owned by the Russians Leonid Friedland and Leonid Strunin since 2008.

When neither man is the target of Western sanctions, voices rise in the art world to call for a boycott of the auction house. Anish Kapoor is one of them. The British artist told the New York Times that Phillips is “a legitimate target, like Chelsea Football Club,” which is owned by oligarch Roman Abramovich. Contemporary art collector Andy Hall agrees. “It would be hypocrisy to continue to sell or buy through this Russian company”he told the American daily.

(ETX Daily Up)

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