“Welcome to the fine art of separating people from their money,” joked Bono at the Saturday-night opening of Jony Ive and Marc Newson’s auction for Project (RED)—the seven-year-old charity dedicated to fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. “The amount of money we raise tonight is important—it pays for lifesaving pills—but tonight is also about [generating] heat and excitement,” the rock-star-cum-philanthropist told Style.com. “We really could see the beginning of the end of AIDS in the next couple years, but only if we keep concentration.”
Held at Sotheby’s, the [Project] (RED) auction drew the likes of Harrison Ford, Helena Christensen, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Misha Nonoo, and a few regulars such as Larry Gagosian and Peter Brant. Indeed, the bidders brought the heat, raising over $26 million—in a matter of hours—for the fund. Predictions had forecast closer to $2 million.
“People don’t know who they are!” exclaimed Bono of Ive—the man behind the iPod, iPhone and Mac Pro Air—and famed industrial designer Newson. “These are people who changed the world, and these are two of the most important artists and designers in the world—they really like to do difficult things. This is their drug of choice.”
An Ive-and-Newson-customized Steinway went for $1.92 million—but not before Chris Martin took the stage to pound out “Beautiful Day,” with Bono on vocals (“Just to see if it works,” quipped Martin). Christy Turlington modeled a pink ruffled Azzedine Alaïa—”Just so we’re clear, we’re bidding on the dress,” joked the auctioneer. And a few items—a razor-thin, polished-steel desk ($1.7 million), a pair of solid rose-gold Apple EarPods ($380,000)—were designed specifically by Ive and Newson for the event.
A raucous party, with performances by Nile Rodgers (“Le Freak,” anyone?), Angélique Kidjo, and Bono and the Edge followed the auction. “By the time I wanted to bid, the prices were already too high!” shared André Saraiva from his post near the very well-stocked bar. Tough luck for Mr. André, but at least he was priced out for a very good cause.