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The Museum of Contemporary Art hosted its most successful benefit art auction in the museum’s history Nov. 16. The record-breaking auction, sponsored by Sotheby’s, attracted over 400 guests and included a who’s who of philanthropy, art and culture. The event raised a whopping $6 million that will support the MCA’s exhibitions and programming.

The night began with a reception in the atrium, where contemporary artists’ names were printed in large red letters across the entire white floor. Guests meandered throughout the galleries viewing nearly 100 live and silent auction artworks, curated by MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling. Contributing artists included Nick Cave, Judy Chicago, Jacqueline Humphries, Rashid Johnson, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Theaster Gates and Lorna Simpson, along with emerging artists Jessica Campbell, Petra Cortright, Brendan Fernandes and Amanda Williams among others.

Following the reception, stylish guests made their way to a tent that enclosed the MCA’s sculpture garden. There, more dramatic decor in red, black and white created an immersive environment, with walls displaying empowering quotes by female artists.

Madeleine Grynsztejn, MCA Pritzker Director, welcomed guests and introduced co-chairs Cari Sacks and Ken Griffin. “There are 93 gifts of art featured here tonight,” Sacks said. “The generosity that these galleries, dealers and, especially, the artists have shown us has exceeded our wildest dreams. ... Your bids tonight will support the museum’s vital and necessary work in creating new art histories for future generations.” Griffin called the MCA a “cornerstone of our city’s cultural legacy.”

Oliver Barker, senior director and chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, auctioned off 14 works from renowned galleries and artists from around the world. The highest winning bid, $1.15 million, was paid for the 2018 painting “Untitled” by American artist Richard Prince. The piece had been donated by Larry Gagosian and the artist.

Several works were created especially for the auction, including a commissioned piece by Murakami, who will work with the winning bidder on a portrait (sold for $260,000), and new works created by Andrea Bowers and Howardena Pindell, whose mixed media on canvas titled “Carnival: Rio Samba School, Brazil,” sold for $280,000.

The benefit art auction, held every four years, was founded in 1968 by MCA Women’s Board members Helyn Goldenberg, Rhona Hoffman and Dorie Sternberg, who were all in attendance.

-Candace Jordan

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