Last night's (RED) Valentine's Day auction of contemporary art raised more than US$40 million for the UN Global Fund to fight AIDS.
'Tonight, said Bono, who organised the event with British artist Damien Hirst, 'We got serious about love and not just the love of art, but the love of our brothers and sisters suffering from Aids in the poorest places on the planet."
Hirst donated seven of his works to the auction in New York, including a cabinet filled with drugs to treat HIV, which fetched $7.15m (£3.6m). The auction broke records for 17 artists, including Banksy, whose Keep It Spotless work made $1.8m (£950,300). Other sales included Jeff Koons' Balloon Rabbit Wall Relief (Red), which went for just over $2m (£1.03m).
(RED), launched in 2006, is a brand designed to harness business and consumer power in the fight against AIDS in Africa. It was created to deliver a sustainable flow of private sector funds to the Global Fund and to raise public awareness about the AIDS emergency in Africa. Proceeds from the auction go directly to the United Nations Foundation to support HIV/AIDS relief programs run by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
"I have watched people dying for lack of these pills," Bono said after the sale. "I actually can't quantify how many people that will keep alive. It's not just the money we made tonight, it's the excitement around the issue," he added.
This art, added Dr Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund, 'will literally save thousands of lives.'
More about the Global Fund here.