There are nights at the museum, where you feel pretty special viewing the artworks or special exhibit without the masses breathing down your neck disturbing the whole experience while sipping on your cash bar drinks and then there’s the $6 million record breaking night at the museum, where about 400 art patrons, collectors, old and new money, real deal movers and shakers line the room, ready to raise money for a worthy organization. The 2019 edition of the the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s (MCA) Art Auction Benefit held Saturday November 16, and co-chaired by Cari Sacks and Kenneth C. Griffin inside a dazzling HMR designed space was the latter.
Where you had Illinois richest man founder of Citadel and the night’s co-chair Ken Griffin, new co-owner of Black Opal cosmetics Desiree Rogers, NYC based international gallerist Larry Gagosian, renowned artist Nick Cave, curators Micheal Darling, Naomi Beckwith, co-chair Cari Sacks and husband Michael Sacks of GCM Grosvenor all in one room and this wasn’t an economic club dinner.
Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, Ellen-Blair Chube (William Blair), Arne Duncan, Brendan Fernandes (artist), Larry Gagosian (Gagosian gallery), Sandra and Jack Guthman (OG art patrons), Caryn and King Harris, Sanford Heller (Art Advisory), Anne Kaplan (Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation), Sondra and Tony Karman (EXPO Chicago), Liz and Eric Lefkofsky (Chicago Ideas, Groupon), Larry Levy, Katherine Malkin, Neil Bluhm, Claire and Michael O’Grady (Northern Trust Bank CEO), Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert, Rebekah and Ilan Shalit (Consolidated Trading), Marjorie and Louis Susman, Richard Wright, and Matthew Yates were just some of the guests spotted on the scene all under one roof.
“The extraordinary generosity that takes place at each of our storied auctions is an essential part of realizing the MCA’s ardent commitment to creating exhibitions and programs that champion revelatory art and spark civic transformation.” -MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn
The night began with cocktails and first view of the venue’s décor before moving into an enclosed tent in the sculpture garden. HMR designs with Frost Lighting, Pro Em, and Hall’s nailed the art theme with contemporary artists’ names printed in large red letters across the entire bright white floor of the MCA’s atrium.
The interior design of the tent continued the bold theme, creating an immersive environment of red and white text set on a black background of artists’ names interspersed with powerful quotes by female artists filling the walls.
When the night was done and dusted, after a spirited live auction led by Senior Director and Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe Oliver Barker, who auctioned 14 works of art from renowned art galleries in the US and Europe, it was announced that the Sotheby’s sponsored 2019 MCA Benefit Art Auction raised a record-breaking $6 million. A record for a midwest museum, this years art auction benefit was the most successful in the museum’s history since the premier art event’s start in 1968.
It even shattered the record that was set in 2015 when Jim Jordan took the winning bid for Kerry James Marshall’s Still Life With Wedding Portrait, 2015 piece. The highest winning bid of the night was $1,150,000 for the 2018 painting “Untitled” by artist Richard Prince, donated by Larry Gagosian and the artist. All proceeds from the auction support the MCA’s exhibitions and programming, which offer compelling opportunities to explore, challenge, discuss, and reflect on contemporary art and culture.
Photos by: Braxton Black; Brittany Sowacke
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pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.