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Press Release

Sotheby's and Google join forces for major online charity auction of virtual experiences to benefit the International Rescue Committee

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  • Support Already Pledged by Leaders in Music, Film, Art & Design, Public Affairs & More:
  • Sting, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sacha Baron Cohen, Sir Patrick Stewart, The Strokes, Madeleine Albright, Jacques Grange, Sir Paul Smith, & the People (Real and Fictional) Behind Downton Abbey
  • Mayday Online Auction Will Take Place 1 - 8 May, and Support the IRC's Efforts to Combat COVID-19 in Vulnerable Communities

In this time of separation and social-distancing, Sotheby’s and Google are coming together virtually to raise much-needed funds for the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) work to help mitigate and respond to the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities. Together with leading figures from all walks of culture, business, politics and science, Sotheby’s and Google will launch an online auction of unique experiences which can be enjoyed virtually via Google Meet video calls during this period of social-distancing. From intimate conversations and ‘virtual’ drinks to lessons and tutorials, all of the experiences will be offered without reserve in an online auction open for bidding from 1-8 May 2020. The winning bidders will have the option to share their experience with front-lines workers and others who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and the social-distancing rules put in place.

The list of experiences continues to grow, but already includes commitments from leading names in music, film, public affairs, art & design and science, among others.

Among them are:

  • Win a chance to record a song with Sting! You and a friend will virtually join the 17-time Grammy Award-winning artist at his home studio in England to sing one of his many hit songs together. If interested, he will also offer coaching and advice on vocal styling. The result will be a memorable recording for posterity.
  • A coffee with Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator from New York, First Lady of the United States, and longtime activist and advocate, to discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic will change the way in which we view the world and how you can help create positive change amidst this crisis.
  • A Shakespearian acting lesson conducted by acclaimed screen and stage actor Sir Patrick Stewart, best known for his iconic roles as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek and Professor X in the blockbuster X-Men film franchise.
  • A hangout and conversation with actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to chat about anything from writing comedy to regulating the internet.
  • Coffee or tea with Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, to discuss her latest book, Hell and Other Destinations, and her reflections on current global issues.
  • A conversation about music will all five members of The Strokes, whose new album The New Abnormal was recently released and is scaling music charts around the word.
  • Virtual art work creation with Marc Quinn.
  • A personal coaching session with Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, author of five #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek, and Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, and host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast.
  • A virtual visit to famed Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed, with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, writer and creator Julian Fellowes and actors Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, ‘Lord & Lady Grantham’. Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England is a Grade I listed stately home, seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. The home has famously been used as a location for both film and television for its unique history as well as its unrivalled architecture, beautifully preserved interiors and grounds. Julian Fellowes and stars from the show will join you for the ultimate insider tour of the home of Downton Abbey, delivered online.
  • A private conversation with Apollo 9 astronaut Russell Schweickart, the first spacewalker of the Apollo program, and co-founder of both the Association of Space Explorers and the B612 Foundation, an organization dedicated to defending Earth from asteroid impacts.
  • A conversation with David Miliband, former British Foreign Secretary and current President of the IRC.
  • A discussion about the art of living and decorating with renowned decorator, interior architect and collector, Jacques Grange, from his storied Parisian apartment that once belonged to legendary writer, Colette.

Charles F. Stewart, CEO of Sotheby’s said: “We are proud to contribute to pandemic relief at this extraordinary time.  Many of our clients around the world have enquired about supporting Covid-19 relief efforts and, with the partnership of Google and so many leading figures who have pledged to support this unique auction event of virtual experiences, we are looking forward to supporting the efforts of the International Rescue Committee.”

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said: “As a global community we are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain and millions of refugees and displaced people are now facing a double emergency with the virus reaching their communities. With those most vulnerable in need of all the help that we can give, we would like to thank Sotheby’s, Google and all the luminaries who have agreed to participate and donate their time for this auction in support of IRC’s front-line efforts to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in vulnerable communities across the US and Europe.”

Javier Soltero, G Suite vice president and general manager for Google, said: "With COVID-19 impacting the way we live, work, learn and socialize, the need for secure video meetings to foster human connection has never been greater. We're honored to join Sotheby's and the leading figures involved with this auction to provide a secure, easy and accessible way to connect and creatively support each other throughout these times."

Follow the conversation on social media using #MayDayForCovid

Notes to Editors:

More on the IRC’s response to Covid-19: From distributing meals in New York City to translating public health guidance into numerous languages for refugee and migrant communities across Europe, the IRC response is built on years of experience in supporting people affected by conflict, crisis, and disaster in over 40 countries around the globe, and providing aid to the most vulnerable populations that are always impacted the hardest when a crisis happens. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

Sotheby’s X Charity: In addition to having worked in the past with the IRC, Sotheby’s has also, over the years, joined forces with a number of leading charities, raising money for a variety of pressing causes, most notably with RED in the fight against AIDS, the J/P Haitian Relief Organization response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and more recently to support the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London.

Google/Google Meet: Google Meet provides premium video conferencing built on Google’s robust and secure global infrastructure. https://meet.google.com/

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

About Sotheby's

Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris.  Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection, artist, estate & foundation advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby’s also presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby's Global Fine Art Division, and three retail businesses: Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds, and Sotheby’s Home, the online marketplace for interior design.