The guest list for the MCA Benefit Art Auction, with tickets starting at $750/per person was a who’s who of Chicago’s modern art collection scene Eisens, Fields, Crowns, Kaplan, Lefkofsky, Pritzker coupled with a few hedgies by the name of Ken Griffin, Jay Jordan sprinkled in the mix, serious money.power.respect was in the room.
The MCA brought out the big guns for this and it paid off as they raised $3.7 million at the Benefit Art Auction, calling it the most successful event in The Museum’s 48-year History!! So what made it so successful? To start, amongst the lot of artwork that was up for auction, 15 pieces-some made specially for the event which ranged in value from $30,000-$480,000 – went up on the live auction netting $2.23 million, #NBD.
The live auction, which I will get into in just a bit, was just the most fascinating thing to watch (if you caught some parts of it on our Instagram & snapchat @socialifechi), it was conducted by Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s deputy chairman who flew in from London. The event was co-chaired by Marilyn and Larry Fields and Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul which meant a good deal of their deep pocketed friends/art collectors made up a portion of the 500 guests that were in attendance.
The night, started with cocktails, guests admiring the art works on display and putting in their bids through Paddle8. Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky attending with wife Liz, was spotted chatting up MCA Board Chair Anne Kaplan, whom despite a foot injury and a boot was in high Anne Kaplan fashion form.
The Kerry James Marshall piece Still-life With Wedding Portrait, 2015 (below) donated by the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery was truly the scene making piece, it was the talk of the night and honestly I thought for sure Ken Griffin was going to go for it.
Cocktail hour was so engaging that it went a bit beyond organizers’ planned time (or perhaps it was the plan to get them comfortable and loose) and guests began to move to dinner only once that bar closed. With remarks from MCA Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn and the co-chairs with Don Kaul raising the “Applause” sign at pivotal moments, it was time to begin the main show.
Sotheby’s Chicago’s Gary Metzner manning the phones and Oliver Barker leading the charge with the first piece a Hugh Douglas donated by the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery netted about $70k.
The big ticket of the night were the Murarkami and Kerry James Marshall which fetched $270,000 and $700,000 respectively. Jay Jordan who was in attendance with wife Gretchen was the final bidder on the buzzed about Marshall with an estimated value of $480,000. The dizzying pace at which the auction went was incredible but the way Barker worked that room? Man, he was good.
With the HMR designed tented dinner area still buzzing with energy following the auction, guests began to hop tables to chat and collect their wins before retreating back into the museum for a nightcap or two. A few next generation of arts collectors, there were only about two handful, that were spotted on the scene included Adam Fields and Jenny Haleuga, Allison Glenn with artist Tony Lewis who donated a yet to be made piece, EMERGE @ MCA members Tonya & Matt Geesman.
Photo credit: Jeremy Lawson, James Foster