Saving the Earth is no longer the realm of superhero fantasy. From politicians to rock stars, everyone is donning their proverbial cape to help fight climate change. To honor the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Christie’s is launching The Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth. If you’ve always wanted to own an artwork by Damien Hirst, or dreamed about playing golf with Bill Clinton, these and many more high-profile lots are on offer this evening. The hammer will sound at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, with the auction available globally via Christie’s LIVE, and until May 6 a silent Green Auction will run on partner site Charitybuzz. Eco champion Barneys New York is a partner in the auction, spearheaded by its fashion director Julie Gilhart, a recognized force in the green fashion movement. NOWNESS caught up with her on the eve of the auction.
How was the Green Auction conceived?
It was an initiative set up last autumn. The idea was a carbon neutral auction, with 100 percent of proceeds going to four environmental charities: NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Oceana, Conservation International and Central Park Conservancy. And we collaborated with some great organizations, like NBC Universal, who is the media partner for the event.
Is the Green Auction set to be an annual charity event?
Yes, I think so. This is the start, and it has already been very successful in terms of the response we have had from the fashion, music and art communities.
The auction’s host committee draws from a luminous list of philanthropists, artists, celebrities, environmentalists and the media. How did all these names come together?
Everyone involved, from co-chairs Sue and David Rockefeller, to Christie's and NBC, to the four charities––they all have their networks of influential people. What is so incredible is how everyone worked together on this, with the single aim of raising money for these charities.
In addition to artworks, jewelry and collectors items, there are one-of-a-kind celebrity packages like a meeting with Owen Wilson on the set of his new film, and eco vacations, including a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Yes, because not everyone is an art collector, we wanted to offer something that appealed to a diverse range of people, in order for the auction to be a success.
Do any of the lots on offer particularly appeal to you?
There are so many. Bobby Kennedy Jr. is offering a class in falconry; and from Nina Ricci there is the chance to have a perfume custom-made, which is really special.
There seems to be significant engagement from the fashion community.
Yes, there is. For instance, Stella McCartney has donated fittings for bespoke his and hers suits, made from sustainable fabrics. A lunch with Vera Wang, with shopping at her store, will also be auctioned.
The auction is carbon neutral. How does that work?
We have taken simple steps to reduce our impact such as choosing not to produce paper catalogs, instead putting everything online. And we have calculated the carbon footprint of the auction, working with NativeEnergy, who will provide offsets for it.
Is there a particular environmental cause that is close to your heart?
I am not an expert, but climate change is such an important issue because it affects everything on this planet: plants, animals, the whole ecosystem––it is all interconnected.