Hirst persuades art world's biggest names to go (RED)

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The Independent Culture

When Damien Hirst invited more than 100 artists to contribute works to an auction inspired by the colour red and dedicated to raising awareness of HIV/Aids, he said he hoped it would make a difference to those most in need.

The result of his efforts, an extraordinary collection straddling the contemporary artistic spectrum, is unprecedented in quality and diversity, and forms one of the largest and most spectacular charity auctions, with an estimated collective worth of more than 20m. The money raised will go directly to the Global Fund, a recipient of donations to the (RED) charity which provides urgently needed resources to countries struggling to fight the spread of disease.

In just one year, (RED) has become one of the key donors to the Global Fund, helping thousands of Aids patients receive life-saving treatment in Africa.

The U2 singer and campaigner Bono, who is collaborating in the auction, has called it a historic moment which brings together "the best collection of art from the best artists in the world". From Jeff Koons to Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley to Douglas Gordon, the sale combines some of the finest names in contemporary art. International stars such as Jasper Johns, Matthew Barney, Andreas Gursky, Georg Baselitz and Marc Quinn are offering works.

Organised by Hirst and Bono in conjunction with the Gagosian Gallery in London, it will be held at Sotheby's in New York on Valentine's Day next year, with Hirst donating seven pieces worth an estimated 4m alone.

Among Hirst's specially created works is a red heart-shaped butterfly painting entitled All You Need is Love, as well as a piece called Love You and a pill cabinet, Where There's a Will, There's a Way, filled with antiretroviral drugs.

Hirst said: " Money is a key and what we raise from this auction will make a huge difference for a lot of people. For a relatively small amount of effort on each artist's part we can actually save many lives. It's great to be able to give something back and make a difference."

Bono said that the collection represented a "real moment in art history", adding: "I love art for art's sake but what we have here is a real moment in art history. Damien is being too modest; the effort of these artists is considerable, the impact immeasurable. His Where There's a Will, There's a Way provides the neatest, completest metaphor: a pill-becomes-art-becomes-a-pill, that's as close to framing saving a life as you're going to get."

A preview exhibition of the works at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea will be held from 4 to 13 February. A dedicated website will be posted later this month.

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