A lively evening of friendly bidding wars led to a highly successful evening for the 9th annual Angel Art, the auction supporting Project Angel Food, a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to providing daily meals for people homebound or disabled by HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses. Held in the lobby of CAA in Century City, Angel Art raised $1.1 million for the program -- their highest effort yet -- which translates to 240,000 delivered meals.
“This is the best event because it’s such an efficient event,” said Angel Art Committee member Maria Arena Bell, formerly the executive producer of The Young and the Restless and the co-chair of the board at the MOCA. “It’s a great fundraiser for the organization because everyone works so hard, gathers up all the art, and then in two hours, everything is sold, and all this money goes to feed people who really need the help.”
As bids filtered in from the silent auction, CAA managing partner and event committee member Kevin Huvane opened the live auction with a winking warning to the art world royalty in the crowd: “Remember, I know most of you, I know what you’re worth, I know where you live. I can shame you.”
Huvane gave the stage to Tobias Meyer, the worldwide head of contemporary art and principal auctioneer at Sotheby’s, who held court in a playfully energetic live auction.
When one lot -- for photographer Catherine Opie to do a commissioned portrait of the winning bidder -- came up, Meyer quipped, “What’s the price of narcissism?”
Huvane, paddle at the ready, made a play for the work. “That’ll be a very nice portrait,” Meyer jabbed. “You’re very good looking.”
Moments later, Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s husband, David Miller, raised his paddle on the winning bid of $31,000, prompting Meyer to comment: “It could be the both of you … or it could be the baby.” (Murphy and Miller recently welcomed their first baby, Logan, via surrogate into their family.)
Huvane didn’t go home empty handed, however, outbidding producer and Project Angel Food board member Darren Star on a large work titled I Bet You Don’t Remember That I’m the Kid That Came Through (Used to Wash Your Car) by street artist Retna. “Did you used to wash cars?” asked Meyer, upon the winning bid. Huvane nodded.
A series of six Mark Bradford prints went for $33,000 to an unknown bidder, who outlasted CAA's Michael Rubel, and entertainment business manager and Project Angel Food board member John McIlwee. Later, Dan Colen’s TBT (2012) an abstract work using M&M’s as paint, went to an anonymous bidder speaking on the phone with Gagosian Gallery director Deborah McLeod for $130,000, and a Frank Gehry fish lamp sculpture, the likes of which has a long backorder, went for the same amount.
“It’s always a fun night,” said CAA’s Thao Nguyen, an Angel Art Committee member. “The level of quality of the works is what differentiates us from a lot of charity auctions -- it’s really the generosity of the artists and the galleries. You see the Hollywood community show up.” Nguyen had her eye on a rare commissioned Dave Muller piece, in which the artist would paint the winner's favorite album covers, but missed out when the piece went far more than its estimated price.
Other works in the live auction included a a portrait of Nicki Minaj by Francesco Vezzoli; and a porcelain sculpture of Abraham Lincoln wheeling a meat cart by Mark Ryden. Meyer pronounced it very American Horror Story trying to lure Murphy back into the bidding.
“They always have good art, and things are affordable, and it’s a great cause,” said independent curator William Escalera of the pieces he had an eye on in the silent auction. “I wanted to buy the Alex Israel, but somebody robbed me. Everybody was looking at the Richard Serra -- it was a good price.”
More than 300 people packed the room including Margaret Steele of Project Angel Food, CAA's Bryan Lourd, Joel Lubin, David Bugliari (with wife Alyssa Milano) and Michael Mand, Barbara Davis, gallerists Michael Kohn, Honor Fraser and Shaun Caley Regen, collector Rosette Delug, interior designer Cliff Fong, the Hammer Museum's David Morehouse, Linda and Bob Gersh, Sunset Tower's Jeff Klein, producer Dante Di Loreto, Roberta Armani, and artists Case Simmons, Andrew Burke and Brenna Youngblood.