Close to £900,000 was raised at a gala dinner organised by the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel (BFAMI) at the Roundhouse to fund educational projects at the Israel Museum, Tel Aviv Museum and other museums of Israel.
Guest of honour London-born artist Yinka Shonibare, who had decorated the venue with his textiles, told guests of the important role that the Israel Museum had played in his career.
The museum first acquired his work in 1999 and then gave him a solo exhibition in 2002 which led to him being nominated for the Turner Prize. He admitted that some people had advised him not to go to Israel, and on the occasion of a second exhibition in 2010 he had even received a threat via Facebook but he believed that “as an artist, I cannot be taking sides”.
He currently lives and works in the East End of London.
Around £600,000 was raised through an auction of artworks donated by artists, galleries and collectors including Mr Shonibare.
One painting by Los Angeles based artist Alex Israel, which had a pre-sale estimate of £15,000 to £20,000, attracted a frenzy of bidding and finally sold for £150,000, a new record for the BFAMI auction.
BFAMI charity director Ayelet Elstein told the JC: “We had the highest amount of absentee bids in the history for our auction, not just for Israel’s painting but for other works including those by Wolfgang Tillmans, William Kentridge and Yinka Shonibare. There was huge interest in Alex Israel’s work because he is hot property in the art market at present. People showed such a keen interest as his work does not usually come up at auction.”
Among the 500 people at the dinner were the directors of both the Israel Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum.