TOKYO - Thanks to the unique approach of this good cause and the strong leadership by the project’s chairman, Mr. Morihiro Hosokawa, who is the ex-Prime Minister of Japan and the current head of a renowned Hosokawa family, the first charity gala dinner of the Great Forest Wall Project (“GFWP”) was attended by 350 guests at the Palace Hotel in Tokyo and was not short of exceptional commissioned items and media attention. After a number of fierce bidding wars, all twenty-four items managed to raise more than $300,000 for GFWP and significantly boost recognition of the project by being televised throughout Japan. Sotheby’s was delighted to take part in supporting this project.
Ms. Saori Yoshida, three-time Olympic gold medalist, lifting a successful bidder who had the privilege of holding three medals.
The unique aim of GFWP is to build a 300km seawall along the shoreline of Tohoku coastline by using the debris left over from the March 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake, and to plant trees on top of it. This will not only provide a safe haven from any future tsunamis, but it will also solve the problem of removing the debris, which recently has become a political issue.
The very popular character and an ambassador of Kumamoto prefecture, Kumamon, appeared at the event to help raise funds.
I was honored to be the evening’s auctioneer and witnessed so many exciting moments. The auction included items such as the right to be lifted by Ms. Saori Yoshida, wrestling’s Gold medalist at the Olympics in 2004, 2008 and 2012, or the right to feed carrots to the once unbeatable derby horse Deep Impact, accompanied by return air tickets to the stables in Hokkaido. Both were hammered at around $2,000. The bidding rose to a fever pitch for an artwork made by the famed architect Tadao Ando, which included shards of pottery from the work of Mr. Hosokawa, who is also a celebrated contemporary potter who holds exhibitions internationally. Not only was the collaboration unique, but the rumor that Mr. Hosokawa is a perfectionist who rarely ends up with any failed pieces attracted a lot of interest in this work! In the end, my hammer went down at $12,000.
Mr. Hosokawa, together with Aki, congratulating and thanking a big bidder.
The next GFWP charity party is scheduled for April in Osaka. Meanwhile, please visit the project’s website (currently available only in Japanese). If you are kind enough to donate to this good cause, a $5 donation will allow GFWP to plant 1 tree and potentially save many lives if a catastrophic tsunami ever hits again. Of course, we pray that this will never happen.