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DiCaprio environmental auction tops $33m

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio gives a speech at the start of the 11th Hour auction at Christie's in New York.

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio gives a speech at the start of the 11th Hour auction at Christie's in New York.

Published May 14, 2013


New York - Leonardo DiCaprio urged wealthy art collectors on Monday to bid at an environmental charity auction in New York as if the planet's fate “depends on us” - and they responded by splashing out $33.3-million.

The 11th Hour auction at Christie's featured 33 works of mostly contemporary art, much of it created for the event and addressing environmental themes.

The strong result doubled pre-sale estimates, with nine of the works selling for more than $1-million. Among the main sellers, Mark Grotjahn's Untitled went for $6.5-million and Zeng Fanzhi's The Tiger fetched $5-million, both of them doubling their estimates.

Most of the proceeds went to environmental protection causes championed by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

The Hollywood actor, currently starring in a lavish new production of The Great Gatsby, says his foundation is “dedicated to protecting the last wild places on Earth and the critically endangered species that inhabit them.”

A 2013 portrait of DiCaprio himself by Elizabeth Peyton sold for $1.05-million, compared to its $400 000-600 000 estimate.

The Hollywood element added even more glitz to the already luxurious atmosphere of a Manhattan Christie's auction room, with actress Salma Hayek joining DiCaprio in the audience.

However, DiCaprio said the world's embattled environment needs far more help.

“Despite the significant efforts of organisations and individuals all over the world, our modern way of life has caused unprecedented devastation to our oceans, our forests and our wildlife,” he said, urging buyers to “bid as if the fate of the planet depends on us.”

“We are at the 11th hour, we are facing a tipping point of environmental crisis unprecedented in human history,” he said. - Sapa-AFP

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