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November 12, 2014

$5.5-Million Koons Auction Reflects New Era of Art Charity

Works by sculptor Jeff Koons commissioned specially to be sold for charity raised $5.5-million for the United Nations Foundation Sunday, heralding what The Guardian terms a new age of art-world philanthropy. The main piece, a six-foot sculpture slung with donated designer handbags called "Gazing Ball (Charity)," sold for $4-million at an auction arranged by a new nonprofit, Project Perpetual, that plans annual fundraising collaborations with high-profile artists.

"We always felt the art world was probably extremely generous but this is a unique opportunity for art and philanthropy to come together," said Kathy Calvin, president of the U.N. Foundation, which develops global vaccination and education programs. Other recent examples of the trend include an auction last year of works donated by contemporary artists, arranged by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, that raised $32-million for conservation causes, and the $13.7-million sale in July of a Damien Hirst piece to support AIDS research.