Leonardo DiCaprio Charity Auction Raises $38 Million for Environmental Causes

Actor teamed up with Christie's in New York City for what is believed to be the biggest auction of its kind to benefit conservation initiatives

By Alexis L. Loinaz
|  Tuesday, May 14, 2013  |  Updated 10:57 AM EDT
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Leonardo DiCaprio has a big hit on this hands--and this time, it has nothing to do with goosed-up box-office returns.

The actor, a staunch environmental activist, helped raise a whopping $38.8 million at a charity auction Monday to benefit environmental and conservation programs, including initiatives to protect wildlife and endangered species, event organizers announced in a statement.

DiCaprio teamed up with Christie's in New York City for what was being called The 11th Hour Auction, whose sales surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations.

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The auction--which featured pieces by Robert Longo, Elizabeth Peyton and Carol Bove, among others--sold all 33 works that went under the hammer, nine of which were snapped up for more than a million bucks apiece.

Top money-earners included Mark Grotjahn's "Untitled," which went for $6.5 million, and Zeng Fanzhi's "The Tiger," which was sold for $5 million.

The auction also drummed up an additional $5 million from a donor who pledged to match the sales on three tiger paintings, whose proceeds would go toward protecting tigers.

DiCaprio himself reportedly dug into his own art collection and donated an Andreas Gursky piece titled "Ocean V."

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The final sales tally zoomed past the most aggressive of projections--organizers had initially expected to generate $18 million.

"Despite the significant efforts of organizations and individuals all over the world, our modern way of life has caused unprecedented devastation to our oceans, our forests and our wildlife," DiCaprio said in a statement.

"Each of these natural systems is critical to our way of life: They provide us with the food that we eat, the air that we breathe and the natural resources we need to survive. The time to protect them is long overdue. I am very grateful to Christie's, Loic Gouzer and the artists who contributed great works of art for making this auction possible," he added.

The action, whose proceeds will be allocated accordingly by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, was reportedly the biggest its kind to benefit environmental projects.

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