Lion bags R14 million for Leo

26 July 2016 - 08:45 By ADRIENNE CARLISLE

Grahamstown artist Bruce Little's bronze sculpture of an African lion raised more than R14-million at Leonardo DiCaprio's glitzy gala fundraiser in St Tropez, France, at the weekend.Little and his wife, Cate, rubbed shoulders with Hollywood's big names such as Cate Blanchett, Penélope Cruz, Robert de Niro, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Spacey, Charlize Theron and DiCaprio at a star-studded event.The event raised R643-million for environmental conservation.This was the most money raised since the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation established the yearly gala auction three years ago.A passionate environmentalist, Little donated his colossal African lion sculpture, titled Dawn Patrol, to the auction and was delighted it collected more than R14-million for conservation projects.He said: "Part of the legacy I'd like to leave is as an artist who made a difference to conservation through the medium of art."The foundation footed the bill for the casting of the bronze and the transport of the sculpture by ship to France.Although Little didn't personally benefit from the sale, the publicity his brand is getting is likely to prove invaluable.Dawn Patrol is a limited edition piece and just three versions of the eight-metre-long, 4.3m-high bronze sculpture will be produced.Little's first bronze African lion was crafted earlier this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire, England. The three-ton bronze feline now loftily surveys the 436-year-old stately Longleat House, home to the seventh Marquess of Bath, Alexander Thynn.The second, sold at the auction to "an international billionaire businessman and art collector", will be placed on display on the main field at the St Tropez polo club, said Little.He said: "It is such an honour to share an artistic line-up with the likes of Jeff Koons, Picasso, and Andy Warhol."Little returns to Grahamstown this week where he will work on a massive leopard and prepare for an exhibition in Johannesburg at the end of August and two others in England and Ireland in October.

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