MCA benefit art auction largest in Museum's 48 year history

Can you imagine walking into the renowned Museum of Contemporary Art’s galleries and seeing breathtaking artwork hanging on the walls that you can TAKE HOME?! Well, that was exactly what happened for the MCA’s annual benefit art auction for those lucky guests with extra coins in their pockets.

More than 500 attended this event that featured both silent and live auction artworks displayed in the museum’s galleries, an impressive roster of work curated by MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling.

Following the cocktail reception, guests made their way into the elegant tent that enclosed the MCA’s sculpture garden. The tent setting, designed by HMR Designs, was wrapped floor-to-ceiling in a multicolored striped fabric of red, burnt orange, royal blue, golden yellow, and chartreuse green. The dining tables as well as the auction stage also featured the same striped design, creating a delightfully colorful and immersive environment.  One waiter quipped, “I hope no one has vertigo!” It was unusual and breathtaking all at the same time.

The live auction was led by Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman, Europe; Senior International Specialist, Contemporary Art Oliver Barker, and he was assisted by Sotheby’s Senior International Fine Arts Consultant Helyn Goldenberg.  Sotheby’s was also a major sponsor of the event.

A who’s who of philanthropists, gallerists, and artists were in attendance including Neil Bluhm, Nick Cave, Nancy Crown, Chris D’Amelio of David Zwirner Gallery, Theaster Gates, Ken Griffin, Kavi Gupta, Rhona Hoffman, Gretchen and Jay Jordan, Lauren Lange of David Kordansky Gallery, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Michelle Maccarone, Kerry James Marshall, Kat Parker of Petzel Gallery, United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert, and Helen Zell. The event was co-chaired by Marilyn and Larry Fields and Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul.

After the live auction, guests enjoyed a family-style dinner prepared by Limelight Catering that included a maple-glazed heirloom squash salad, mini potatoes, fresh spring rolls, petite lobster rolls, beef carpaccio, and artisan breads and crispy lavash. The entrée was braised short ribs accompanied by slow-roasted brussels sprouts, a creamy Iroquois polenta cake, and glazed heirloom carrots paired with Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon and Rickshaw Chardonnay. After dinner, guests moved back into the museum for a dessert reception in the Kovler Atrium and had the opportunity to place their final bids on the silent auction artworks.

MCA’s Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn announced that the auction raised $3.7 million, making this event the most successful in the museum’s 48-year history!  The highest winning bid of the night was $700,000 for a new painting created specially for the auction by renowned Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall, who is the subject of a major traveling retrospective opening at the MCA in April 2016.

All proceeds benefit the museum’s exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions.

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