Auction of George Michael's Art Collection Raises $12.3 Million for Charity

Proceeds from the Thursday evening sale at Christie's in London will benefit causes supported by the "Careless Whisper" singer during his lifetime

An auction of contemporary artworks owned by George Michael has raised $12.3 million for charity.

Proceeds from the Thursday evening sale at Christie’s in London will benefit causes supported by the “Careless Whisper” singer during his lifetime, such as the fight against AIDS and children’s counseling. Michael died of heart and liver disease at his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day 2016 at age 53.

Philanthropic work was hugely important for George during his lifetime and it was his wish that this work would continue after his passing,” a spokesperson for George Michael’s Trustees said in a statement released by Christie’s. “We are delighted with the outcome of the evening sale.”

Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s, added: “To realize such a significant sum, with proceeds from the sale being used to continue George Michael’s philanthropic work, is what we’ve all been working towards.”

George Michael Press Conference

The London auction involved 60 works by the Young British Art movement, many of whom were friends with Michael. It attracted bidders from 27 countries across five continents, with competitive bidding taking place in London and via simulcast from New York.

“The Incomplete Truth”, a 2006 Damien Hirst work depicting a dove hovering in formaldehyde, fetched the highest price of the evening, raising £911,250 ($1,210,000).

Lot 5 - Damien Hirst, The Incomplete Truth
The Incomplete Truth. CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2019

A second Hirst piece — a bull encased in formaldehyde titled “Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain” — sold for £875,250 ($1,162,000).

Other sold lots include works by Bridget Riley and Tracey Emin, plus three pieces by Irish-born Michael Craig-Martin that detail Michael’s public arrest for “lewd behavior” in a Beverly Hills park back in 1998.

Called “Untitled (SEX)”, “Untitled (GOD)” and “Handcuffs”, the pieces sold for a total of £277,500 ($369,000)

Angus Fairhurst’s one-armed bronze gorilla sculpture, “A Couple of Difference Between Thinking and Feeling II”, which used to live in Michael’s garden, also fetched £95,000 ($125,811).

Lot 20 - Angus Fairhurst, A Couple of Differences Between Thinking and Feeling II
A Couple of Differences Between Thinking and Feeling II. CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2019

“I’m sure he had advisors but I think he pleased himself and made up his own mind what he liked,” Cristian Albu from Christie’s told the BBC about Michael’s art buying, adding that it was “most intense” between 2004 and 2009.

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In the lead-up to the auction key works from Michael’s collection were shown in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Shanghai, before returning to London where the sale of catalogs and limited-edition tote bags raised a further £250,000 ($332,000) for Michael’s philanthropic works.

Michael was laid to rest three months after his death in an intimate ceremony at Highgate Cemetery, London.

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