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New York City Auction Raises $42 Million for AIDS Relief in Africa

A celebrity-studded Valentine's Day charity auction of contemporary artworks — all inspired by the color red and the concept of love — raised more than $42.5 million to benefit HIV/AIDS relief programs in Africa, Sotheby's auction house said.

Organized by Sotheby's, U2 lead singer Bono, artist Damien Hirst and Manhattan's Gagosian Gallery, the sale on Thursday blasted past the maximum of $29 million it was expected to bring in, Sotheby's said.

The event also set sale records for 17 artists, including Howard Hodgkin, Marc Quinn and Keith Tyson, the auction house said.

"Tonight we got serious about love, and not just the love of art, but the love of our brothers and sisters suffering from AIDS in the poorest places on the planet," Bono said in a Sotheby's release.

The auction included pieces donated by dozens of artists, among them Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and Ed Ruscha. Hirst gave seven of his works, including "Where There's a Will, There's a Way" — a pill cabinet filled with medications used to treat HIV. It sold for $7.15 million, Sotheby's said.

The event drew a high-wattage crowd that included domestic diva Martha Stewart, hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, actor Dennis Hopper and tennis star John McEnroe, Sotheby's said.

Model Christy Turlington bought Francesco Clemente's "Red Flower on Scorched Earth" for $170,500, according to the auction house.

The prices included a 10 percent buyer's premium. Proceeds will go the United Nations Foundation and will support programs run by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Sotheby's said.