Guests bid on art works in the 2016 MCA Benefit Art Auction (photo by Jeremy Lawson/© Museum of Contemporary Art)
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) Friday October 23rd Benefit Art Auction became the museum’s single most successful such event in its 48-year history, raising $3.7 million. The highest winning bid of the evening was $700,000 for a new painting created specially for the auction by renowned Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall. Marshall is the subject of a major traveling retrospective opening at the MCA in April 2016.
The event took place at the MCA with both silent and live auction artworks displayed in the museum's galleries, an impressive roster of work curated by MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling. The 500 guests featured a who's who of philanthropists, gallerists, and artists including Neil Bluhm, Nick Cave, Nancy Crown, Chris D'Amelio of David Zwirner Gallery, Theaster Gates, Ken Griffin, Kavi Gupta, United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Helen Zell among a host of others. The event was co-chaired by Marilyn and Larry Fields and Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul.
The evening began with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the galleries while guests bid on silent auction works through Paddle8 -- the premier online auction house -- and viewed the live auction artworks. Guests made their way into the elegant tent that enclosed the MCA's sculpture garden. The tent setting, designed by Heffernan Morgan, was wrapped floor-to-ceiling in a multicolored striped fabric of red, burnt orange, royal blue, golden yellow, and chartreuse green. The dining tables as well as the auction stage also featured the same striped design, creating a delightfully colorful and immersive environment. The live auction was led by Sotheby's Deputy Chairman, Europe; Senior International Specialist, Contemporary Art Oliver Barker, and he was assisted by Sotheby's Senior International Fine Arts Consultant Helyn Goldenberg. Sotheby's was also a major sponsor of the event.
After the live auction, guests enjoyed a family-style dinner prepared by Limelight Catering. Guests sat down to a maple-glazed heirloom squash salad, mini potatoes, fresh spring rolls, petite lobster rolls, beef carpaccio, and artisan breads and crispy lavash. The entrée was braised short ribs accompanied by slow-roasted brussels sprouts, a creamy Iroquois polenta cake, and glazed heirloom carrots paired with Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon and Rickshaw Chardonnay. After dinner, guests moved back into the museum for a dessert reception in the Kovler Atrium and had the opportunity to place their final bids on the silent auction artworks.
All proceeds from this year’s auction benefit the museum's exhibitions, programs and acquisitions.