Leonardo DiCaprio’s star-studded auction raises $11 million for environmental causes

The Leonard DiCaprio Foundation teamed up with Jackson Family Wines to put on the invitation-only event at Jackson Park Ranch in Bennett Valley over the weekend.|

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, surrounded by a bevy of other A-list celebrities, raised $11 million for environmental causes in a Saturday night auction in Santa Rosa featuring works by some of the top names in the contemporary art world.

The Leonard DiCaprio Foundation teamed up with Jackson Family Wines to put on the star-studded, invitation-only event.

Fellow actors Tobey Maguire, Mark Ruffalo, Catherine Deneuve, Edward Norton and Naomi Campbell were among the 350 guests at the event, held at the Jackson Park Ranch on Grange Road in Bennett Valley. Also attending was world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, whose foundation tweeted a picture of her with Ruffalo and DiCaprio.

The Twitter post read: “… the focus, determination & compassion of these individuals fill the world w. so much hope!”

Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin gave a live performance of “My Heart Will Go On” at the end of the auction, which featured 17 lots of experiences, collectibles and fine art pieces by artists Ai Weiwei, David Hockney, Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Prince and Frank Gehry, among others.

DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s most vocal advocates for environmental causes, serving on numerous boards, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“When I founded LDF ?20 years ago, I did so based on the simple idea that we could make a real difference by directly funding some of the most ?effective environmental projects; whether it be individuals, grassroots movements or major nonprofits, we wanted to focus on getting critical funding to those who could have the greatest impact,” the Oscar-?winning actor said in a news release issued by his foundation.

“We are extremely proud to celebrate 20 years of this model. Since 1998, we have supported over 200 projects on every continent and in every ocean from habitat and species conservation, renewable energy, climate change, indigenous rights, and more. I am pleased to announce $11 million in new grants across our six program areas, bringing the total financial impact of LDF to over $100 million.”

The event was designed to produce zero waste, using renewable energy. Garbage was composted. Even the “Step and Repeat,” the publicity backdrop used by celebrities for official photos at major events, was made with recycled cardboard instead of the typical vinyl.

Julia Jackson, ?second-generation proprietor of the winery founded by her father, the late Jess Jackson, recently initiated the partnership with DiCaprio’s foundation after viewing the actor’s film, “Before the Flood,” in which he traveled the world bearing witness to the effects of climate change.

“I’m very passionate about our environment. I felt like it was a foundation with a worthwhile cause actually affecting change and assuring the health of the planet,” she said in a phone interview Sunday. “I support what he’s doing with a phenomenal organization that seemed like a good fit.”

Jackson co-chaired the event with DiCaprio.

Both the foundation and DiCaprio made donations to support disaster relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Florence as well as to the Just and Resilient Future Fund. The latter grant will help the most vulnerable fire victims and support initiatives to build healthy and resilient communities, according to the foundation, which is focused on ocean and forest conservation, climate change and protecting biodiversity.

Before the dinner, Jackson Family wines were served in a horse barn that had been turned into an art gallery, with major pieces playfully displayed in the stalls.

Dinner was served under a giant tent set up in the horse arena. Chef Kyle Connaughton of SingleThread, a two ?Michelin-starred restaurant in Healdsburg, created the menu, drawing on produce, honey, eggs and olive oil sourced from his own farm.

Leftovers were donated to Sonoma Family Meal to help victims of last year’s firestorms, and floral decorations were donated to local retirement and convalescent facilities.

The foundation did not disclose final auction prices. But Thiebaud’s “A Mountain Split,” the star lot of the evening, had a minimum opening bid of $3 million.

The 97-year-old Northern California artist was given the foundation’s first Art & Environment Award at Saturday night’s fundraiser.

All of the works were selected by DiCaprio’s art adviser Lisa Schiff and auctioned off by Sotheby’s.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at ?707-521-5204 or meg.mcconahey@pressdemocrat.com.

Meg McConahey

Features, The Press Democrat

Like most everyone, I love a good feature story that takes me somewhere I’ve never been or tells me something I don’t know. Where can I take you? Who in Sonoma County would you like to know better? I cover the people, places and ideas that make up Sonoma County, with general features, people profiles and home and garden, interior design and architecture stories. Hit me up with your tips, ideas and burning questions.


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