It is a Christmas present of extraordinary generosity. Richard Duncalf, a company chairman, has paid £14,000 for his partner to enjoy a drawing lesson with Tracey Emin which makes the Turner Prize-nominated artist the most extravagant top lot in The Independent's 2006 Christmas Appeal.
The chance to have a drawing class over champagne and cake with our star columnist prompted fierce bidding until the end.
Other lots were also fought over keenly. More than 200 people wanted an eco-makeover from the green commentator, Julia Stephenson, which went for £1,200. And a host of other sizeable bids, including more than £5,000 apiece for the printing plates signed by Damien Hirst and another £5,050 for a lecture by our Middle East expert Robert Fisk, produced a record total.
At close of play, this year's online auction had raised a fraction under £114,000 - storming past last year's total of £64,000.
As he yesterday celebrated his victory, Mr Duncalf, who is based in Manchester and runs the Vivienne Westwood store franchises outside London, admitted that the bidding had gone a little higher than he expected.
But Oscar Pinto-Hervia, his business and personal partner, owns some of Emin's work. "I've bought it for him as one of his Christmas presents. We're art fans and also Oscar is a bit of an amateur artist so I thought it would be fantastic having Tracey spending some time with him. And it is great to support the charity appeal."
The intention had been for Mr Pinto-Hervia to receive the present on Christmas Day. But Mr Duncalf agreed to share the news early in the light of proving the biggest contributor.
Tracey Emin said: "What I like about the auction is it's good for everybody. It's things that money can't buy. And it's been so much fun this year having people like Bono and Damien on board as well. It's just made it really glamorous."
There were in excess of 2,000 bids with more than 300 in the final 10 minutes.
Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent, said: "Since we started our grand charity auction five years ago - the first of its kind in British journalism - it has grown every year in scale and in the amount of money raised. This year it is a truly staggering total and we would like to thank all our readers who took part, to congratulate those who were successful and to commiserate with those people who missed out."
The auction, powered by QXL.co.uk, is over but readers can make donations to the appeal, for three charities; Merlin, a British medical charity that arranges emergency relief in disaster zones; the Welfare Association, which works in Gaza and the West Bank; and Anti-Slavery International.Reuse content