A Confluence of Design
Unlike other public sales included in the category of most expensive pianos, Sotheby’s (RED) Auction was organized solely for charity and involved an interdisciplinary, collaborative spirit based on the concept of ‘ethical consumerism,’ for the strict purpose of donating all proceeds to TheGlobalFund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa.
Initiated under the (RED) banner, an organization co-founded in 2006 by Bono of U2 (Irish born musician and activist) and Bobby Shriver (Son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver), companies and individuals are engaged to create innovative products using the color red as a prominent feature of design in order to raise money and awareness to put an end to AIDS.
In collaboration with Bono, the November 2013 (RED) Auction was also curated by two of the world’s most forward-thinking pioneers in design, Englishman Sir Jonathan Ive (Chief Design Officer for Apple, Inc.) and native Australian Marc Newson CBE (an industrial designer working in aircraft, product, furniture, jewelry, and clothing design). Both men have won numerous awards, with Mr. Ive holding over 5,000 patents from his creations and inspiring Time Magazine to list him as ‘one of the 100 most influential people in the world.’
The Selling of Lot 12
At the center of it all, the piano found a 5th partner in the collaboration, a fitting donation by the multi-generational artisans at Steinway & Sons, who expressed the (RED) aims of the preeminent designers with indisputable mastery, fashioning the plate in silver and adorning the instrument with nickel hardware.
Prior to the piano being auctioned off, Bono and Chris Martin of Coldplay (who played on the Red Pops for (Red) piano) performed U2’s “Beautiful Day” and Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”
Afterwards, it was ‘on to the bidding war,’ inspiring over 12 bidders to compete for the one-of-a-kind grand (with retired, philanthropist and self-proclaimed “No. 1 King of All Fun,” Stewart Rahr, winning in the end).
The auction raised over $13 million and was subsequently matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—so all told, over $26 million from the event.