Green is back.
It is not only the preferred hue of the environmental movement, but also—once again, after a period of wistful austerity—the color of money, as Thursday night’s “Green Auction” at Christie’s richly demonstrated.
A well-heeled, happily lubricated mob—led by luscious Salma Hayek and her French husband, Gucci Group billionaire François-Henri Pinault—converged on Christie’s Rockefeller Center auction headquarters to celebrate Earth Day and drop well over $1 million on art, jewelry, vacations, and golf to benefit a variety of green causes.
Chevy Chase opened his own wallet, to the tune of $30,000, for the Central Park Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Bid generously! Keep going to the bar!” Christie’s auctioneer Christopher Burge briskly ordered the crowd—and they obeyed. It was further confirmation, perhaps, that Wall Street is doing just fine, thank you, until the next meltdown.
There was some cocktail-party schmoozing in the Christie’s galleries featuring socialites, celebs and fashionistas—such beautiful people as David Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Susan, Sam Waterston and Ted Danson, actress Cody Horn, daughter of Warner Bros. chief Alan Horn, and the crew from the Today show (NBC/Universal was one of the night’s sponsors).
Overheard: two young women complaining loudly about having to wait and wait to wash their hands in the ladies' room while Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr and her cell phone-yakking assistant monopolized the sinks for emergency makeup application. Ah, celebrity excess has returned as well—or it never went away.
Then the auction house’s CEO, Edward Dolman, kicked off Christie’s first-ever Green Auction in the cavernous auditorium. “Christie’s has been in business for 244 years,” he noted as waiters circulated with high-octane beverages, “and I like to think actually that we were one of the earliest people to get seriously into recycling.”
Comic actor and environmental philanthropist Chevy Chase emceed, doing his patented unctuous-pitchman-with-a-screw-loose shtick, punctuated by frequent reminders that, “Um, I’m just joking around.” Typical adlib (while introducing the Rockefellers, the evening’s co-chairs): “David is founder of the Sea for Sailors, which encourages all boaters to protect the ocean and molest young boys.” As the crowd was bidding up the price of a mixed-media, brownish Alan Sonfist canvas, The Naked Earth of New York, to $80,000, Chase interrupted auctioneer Burge to chime in: “I simply used driveway dirt and pebbles. It took me years!”
The comedian redeemed himself by opening his own wallet, to the tune of $30,000, for the Central Park Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council, two of the groups (along with Oceana and Conservation International) that benefited from the night’s proceeds. Other notable bids: Hayek paid $80,000 for Subodh Gupta’s Melting Meteor, a sculpture using brass and stainless steel utensils. NBC/Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker raised his paddle, then put it down, as someone else paid $16,000 for Enoc Perez’s oil painting Bacardi. Someone paid $60,000 to attend the Vanity Fair Oscar party.
And—to raucous hoots and cheers from the audience—a very excited blond lady paid $80,000, a 200 percent premium over the catalogue price, for a day of golf with Bill Clinton.
He’s back, too.
Lloyd Grove is editor at large for The Daily Beast. He is also a frequent contributor to New York magazine and was a contributing editor for Condé Nast Portfolio. He wrote a gossip column for the New York Daily News from 2003 to 2006. Prior to that, he wrote the Reliable Source column for the Washington Post, where he spent 23 years covering politics, the media, and other subjects.