Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller, John McEnroe fork over cash for art
Meet the Parents star Ben Stiller tapped his Hollywood connections and raised $13.7 million for initiatives in Haiti. On September 22, Stiller hosted Artists for Haiti a charity art auction at the New York auction house Christie’s.
“[People need to understand] how much need there is still,” Stiller said in an interview a few days before the auction, “and how devastating the earthquake was.” The actor says he doesn’t know much about art but was eager to raise substantial sums for Haiti.
With celebrities Jennifer Aniston, her boyfriend Justin Theroux, tennis pro John McEnroe and Stiller’s wife Christine Taylor in attendance, a crowded auction room was playful with bidding wars on Thursday. Aniston, who starred in 2004’s Along Came Polly with Stiller, snatched a Glenn Ligon piece for $450,000. Aniston was also featured in promotional stunts for Stiller’s charity auction.
Stiller described the fundraiser as a “serious” art auction. Those attending were mainly art collectors, so Stiller said highly valued pieces were of utmost importance. Actor Steve Martin was Stiller’s first resource in auction planning as Martin is an avid collector, Stiller said. Martin suggested artists and “schooled” Stiller about what’s good in the art world.
Stiller and McEnroe picked up a few pieces, including McEnroe’s win of a sketch of music producer and artist Jay-Z by Elizabeth Petyon. Before McEnroe’s win of the Jay-Z sketch, he suffered some playful cajoling from Stiller to bid more money on a different piece; when McEnroe had attempted to step out of a bidding war, Stiller lifted his paddle and pretended to whack McEnroe.
The auction exceeded Stiller’s expectations by over $3 million with all proceeds from the auction going directly to charities in Haiti as French billionaire and auction house owner Francois Pinault waived all Christie’s fees and commissions. Many of the artists also donated works created specifically for Stiller’s auction.
The auction featured 26 of some of today’s most notable artists, with pieces sometimes fetching over $1 million Thursday night. Artists included Paul McCarthy, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and Cecily Brown.
The idea for the auction stemmed from a trip Stiller and art dealer David Zwirner took to Haiti earlier this year. “I’ve never seen poverty like that,” said Zwirner, who co-organized the event with Stiller.
An advocate of Haiti, Stiller founded the Stiller Foundation in Haiti in 2010 which is charged with building and repairing schools.
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