Sotheby’s MayDay Auction Raises $450,000 for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Sotheby’s MayDay charity auction raises $450,000 to benefit the international rescue committee.

Led by a private recording session with Grammy award-winning musician Sting, which sold for $137,500.

100% of sale proceeds to support COVID-19 relief efforts in vulnerable communities

Presented in partnership with Google to host more than 20 virtual experiences via Google Meet.

Featuring leaders in music, film, art & design, public affairs & more, including:
Sting, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sacha Baron Cohen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Mumford & Sons, David Blaine, the Strokes, Madeleine Albright, Jacques Grange, Sir Paul Smith & the people (real and fictional) behind Downton Abbey.

Charles Stewart, Sotheby’s CEO, commented: “We are thrilled with the outpouring of support we received for this special charity auction to raise much-needed funds for the International Rescue Committee and their COVID relief efforts. We are also extremely grateful to our partner Google for providing the support needed to bring these virtual experiences to life, as well as sincerely thankful to each participant who so generously donated their time for this important cause.”

Full list of participants and virtual experiences:

  • 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 with all five members of The Strokes, whose new album The New Abnormal was recently released and is scaling music charts around the world.
  • This is an opportunity to be one of the first sitters for renowned British artist Marc Quinn’s new series titled Far but Near, Lockdown Irises. These new works are an evolution of Quinn’s Iris Paintings and are inspired by the current lockdown.
  • 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, the 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 the renowned decorator, interior architect and collector, Jacques Grange, from his storied Parisian apartment that once belonged to the legendary writer, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette.
  • A live virtual cooking lesson with world-renowned chef Heston Blumenthal. Host your own virtual dinner party and Heston will help you cook Steak & Triple Cooked Chips for your family while sharing some top tips and conversation.
  • Meet up with Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas for a virtual conversation to discuss what it takes to win. From mental and physical training, dedication to competition, sportsmanship and mind over matter, find out how one of the most decorated athletes today is always striving for more.
  • Join Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell and renowned visual artists Leo Villareal and Hank Willis Thomas for a conversation about the challenges of moving from small to larger-scale work, the role of art in civic life, and Black Rock City as a canvas for artistic experimentation. Both a cultural movement and an annual event, Burning Man has been called one of the most influential phenomena in contemporary American art and culture today.
  • An intimate virtual make-up brush-along for you and a guest with the world’s number 1 makeup artist and skincare expert, Charlotte Tilbury MBE. Adored by celebrities, supermodels and royalty around the world, Charlotte will share her makeup magic tips, tricks and secrets from the runways and red carpets and create a look tailored to YOU!
  • Join British fashion designer, Sir Paul Smith, for a virtual cup of coffee and a private tour of Sir Paul Smith’s personal office. Learn how he approaches designing for his new collections, hear about how he is inspired and ask for personal styling tips.
  • A virtual studio visit with Sean Scully, a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at a 50-year career and shoot the breeze with one of the world’s foremost contemporary artists.
  • Join Lionel Barber, editor of Financial Times (2005-20) in a conversation which could range from what’s the toughest interview you have ever done to the toughest situation you have been in.
  • Enjoy a private conversation with cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason MBE, followed by a private recital featuring Sheku accompanied by his pianist sister, Isata Kanneh-Mason.
  • A virtual illustration class with Charlie Mackesy, artist, illustrator and best-selling author of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. As part of this unique experience, Charlie will share his story and drawing techniques with you and your friends, as well as gift you with a personalised illustration following the class.
  • Discuss your business plan with Sir Martin Sorrell, the authority of what is needed to both start and manage a successful business. Learn about how he thinks COVID-19 will accelerate fundamental changes in the economy and workplace and how to prepare your business for it.
  • Virtual magic performance and conversation with David Blaine, famed for his daring feats of endurance and street magic. Be ready to have a fully interactive experience, and you might even learn some tricks.
  • Join Mumford & Sons, along with some of their extended road family for a virtual pub quiz. Find out who really knows their trivia while you hang out with Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett, Ted Dwane and their crew.

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 honoured 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


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.