Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
, announced that the MCA raised a record-breaking $6 million at the 2019 Benefit Art Auction on Saturday night, November 16, 2019. This Benefit Art Auction was the most successful in the museum's history. According to Gary Metzner, Senior Vice President of Sotheby's, which sponsored the art auction, this auction was a record for museums in the Midwest. The highest winning bid of the night was $1,150,000 for the 2018 painting "Untitled" by famed American artist Richard Prince, donated by Larry Gagosian and the artist. All proceeds from the auction support the MCA's exhibitions and programming, which offer compelling opportunities to explore, challenge, discuss, and reflect on contemporary art and culture.
MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn said, "The extraordinary generosity that takes place at each of our storied auctions is an essential part of realizing the MCA's ardent commitment to creating exhibitions and programs that champion revelatory art and spark civic transformation."
Co-chaired by Cari B. Sacks and Kenneth C. Griffin, the 2019 Benefit Art Auction took place at the MCA with both silent and live auction artworks displayed in the museum's galleries, an impressive roster of nearly 100 artworks curated by MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling. The 400 guests featured a who's who of philanthropists, gallerists, and artists including Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, Neil Bluhm, Nick Cave, Ellen-Blair Chube, Arne Duncan, Brendan Fernandes, Larry Gagosian, Sandra and Jack Guthman, Caryn and King Harris, Sanford Heller, Anne Kaplan, Sondra and Tony Karman, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Larry Levy, Katherine Malkin, Claire and Michael O'Grady, Desiree Rogers, Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert, Michael Sacks, Rebekah and Ilan Shalit, Marjorie and Louis Susman, Richard Wright, and Matthew Yates.
The evening began with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres set in the stunning atrium where contemporary artists' names were printed in large red letters across the entire bright white floor. After guests viewed the live and silent auction artworks in the galleries, they made their way into an elegant tent that enclosed the MCA's sculpture garden. The interior design of the tent continued the bold theme from the museum, creating an immersive environment of red and white text set on a black background of artists' names interspersed with powerful quotes by female artists filling the walls. The décor was created by HMR Designs, Frost Lighting, Pro Em, and Hall's.
The bright red dining tables provided the backdrop to very spirited bidding of the live auction led by Senior Director and Chairman of Sotheby's Europe Oliver Barker, who auctioned 14 works of art from internationally renowned art galleries from the United States and Europe. After the live auction, guests enjoyed a celebratory dinner prepared by MCA Catering. Guests enjoyed a first course of chopped salad, chicken liver mousse, herbed boursin popovers, and red snapper ceviche. The entrée was a New York strip steak with Lyonnaise potatoes, roasted corn and gouda soufflé, creamed spinach, and roasted baby carrots with honey. The courses were paired with Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay and Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos. Guests enjoyed a huckleberry cheesecake before moving back into the museum to place their final bids on the artworks in the silent auction. The MCA partnered with online art platform Artsy to help national and international audiences have access to the exceptional silent auction works featured at the Benefit Art Auction.
At this premier art event, originated by the MCA in 1968, the museum's most significant fundraising event featured work by some of the world's most influential contemporary artists working today, including Nick Cave, Judy Chicago, Jacqueline Humphries, Rashid Johnson, Takashi Murakami, Howardena Pindell, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons, and Charline von Heyl, as well as work by promising emerging artists such as Jessica Campbell, Petra Cortright, Jonathas de Andrade, Brendan Fernandes, Pope.L, and Amanda Williams. Created especially for the Benefit Art Auction were several works by major artists including a commissioned work by Takashi Murakami, who will work with the winning bidder on a portrait, and new works created for the auction by Andrea Bowers and Howardena Pindell.