Public opens their hearts and purses in honour of Tutu



Published Sep 26, 2021


A total of R3,9 million was raised for the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

A landscape painting of the Karoo has fetched more than R850 000 at an auction to preserve the legacy of one of the country’s revered global icons.

After a flurry of bidding online and on the floor, a total of R3,9 million was raised for the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

At least 89 of the 128 art pieces as well as luxury goods and " once-in-a-lifetime" wine estate experiences, were sold to raise funds to continue the good work of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Tutu, among the few anti-apartheid stalwarts still alive, will celebrate his 90th birthday on October 7.

A painting of the Karoo landscape by artist John Meyer and donated for the Art For The Arch auction fetched more than R850 000. The auction was held to raise funds to preserve the legacy of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who turns 90 on 7 October 2021. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Adorning the walls and the rooms, the foundation’s offices where turned into an exhibition hall with colourful, vibrant pieces by artists from South Africa , Zimbabwe,  Namibia, Britain and other countries.

Pieces by esteemed artists William Kentridge and Esther Mahlangu sold for R364 160 and R284 500, respectively.

An artwork by Charles Foley of the Archbishop's meeting with the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamshala, India in April 2015, also sold at R318 640 - double the estimate price.

Included in the top 10 art pieces were two leather bound books, one by Tutu named God Has A Dream which fetched R125 180, and a limited edition of Nelson  Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom sold for R147 950.

Charles Foley’s The Spirit of Joy: Tutu and Dalai Lama also attracted robust bidding during the Art For the Arch auction. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Chief executive of the Legacy Foundation Piyushi Kotecha described the art as "encompassing the Arch's beauty, humour and interpretation of the world".

"Both art and the Arch have commonalities - both speak about soul, about ubuntu that creates and strengthens bonds," said Kotecha.

According to Strauss & Co auctioneers, the hybrid auction attracted bidders from across the globe.

"Artists donated the pieces and even though buyers wanted to own the piece in some instances they pushed for more than what was required in honour of Archbishop Tutu, and to preserve the legacy for future generations. It was a double act of generosity ," said the auctioneer’s Joint Managing Director Bina Genovese.

Roses in the Big Glass - an art piece by one of the well-known artists, William Kentridge, was auctioned for more than R300 000 at the Art For The Arch event to raise funds to preserve Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s legacy. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

A large eagle owl maquette perched on a patinated stainless steel base in the room whistled and cooed to bidders, and foundation board member Justin van Lienden responded. At R70 000, the artwork will take its place of pride among his collection.

"It's my way of giving back," said van Lienden

For artist John Meyer, whose painting titled West of Sutherland and topped the sales of the auction at R853 500, the artwork was symbolic of his esteem for the man who comes from his hometown.

"Just as Tutu stands out as a saving grace that we can draw inspiration from, so a rare pond in the arid landscape sustains life," Meyer described the painting

Both Tutu and Meyer were born and grew up in Klerksdorp." I have a deep affection for him, because he always felt like one of our own, and is an inspiration of what we could all stand for. I was able to donate in a significant way when I was approached by the Tutu Foundation, and became aware of the auction," said Meyer.

Bidders also went for artist Turiya Magadlela's piece celebrating love, and Blessing Ngobeni's Died Digging Gold, which both sold at  R91 040 each.

It was not only art that went under the hammer though.

One bidder forked out R14 000 for a 18 000 ml bottle of wine while another paid for an "exclusive arts and cultural" experience at the La Motte Wine estate in Franschhoek, and a tour of the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Gardens.

There were luxury pieces on auction too. A designer black ostrich leather handbag by celebrity and business woman Carol Bouwer sold for R28 000 while a black and white diamond encrusted ring sold for R40 000.

Dancing Tutu, a piece by Barry Jackson, sold at R91 000 at the Art For The Arch auction. Photo: SUPPLIED

The art work capturing Tutu’s sense of humour and laughter, the Dancing Tutu by Barry Jackson also found a new home and owner - at a cost of R91 040

The auction was part of activities planned to celebrate Tutu’s birthday which will include the annual International Peace Lecture on October 7.

The Dalai Lama and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson are expected to contribute to the lecture.

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