Gromit auction’s £2.3m grand finale to Bristol’s successful charity arts trail

October 4, 2013

Bristol’s hugely-successful Gromit Unleashed charity arts project came to a spectacular finale last night when the long-awaited auction of the 81 Gromit sculptures netted more than £2.3m.

The 5ft-high Gromit sculptures, which have been located around Bristol over the past few months, went under the hammer along with 11, 3ft Gromits to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital Grand Appeal. Many of the sculptures were decorated by famous names from the worlds of fashion, art and entertainment.

The thrilling evening of bidding from invited guests and online bidders lasted for four-and-a-half hours – a fitting climax to the charity arts trail which attracted hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

The trail’s success – along with an exhibition of all the Gromits – staggered its organisers the Bristol-based animators Aardman behind Wallace and Gromit and the children’s hospital charity Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, and gave Bristol a huge boost as a tourist centre. In some cases, visitor numbers to key tourist attractions doubled.

The Grand Appeal director Nicola Masters said: “The Gromits have captured the public’s imagination in a way we could never have dreamt of. The trail alone hugely exceeded our expectations, followed by the tens of thousands who attended the exhibition.

“But we had no idea whether all that would translate tonight, the night that counts. And to raise over £2m for the Bristol Children’s Hospital has been truly staggering.

“We want to thank everyone for making it such a success, and, not least Aardman, Nick Park and Gromit for helping us to turn a simple idea into an amazing reality.”

Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, pictured above at the auction, added: “I don’t usually get to see the audience. It was great on the trail to see families and kids running up and embracing the Gromits.

“It’s all been summed up tonight. People have really put their money where their mouth is and shown how much they care for the children’s hospital and I guess, for Gromit too. He’s done well that lad, I’m very proud to lend my dog.”

In addition to the 500 bidders in the Gromit Unleashed Pavilion at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, last night TV celebrity auctioneer Tim Wonnacott took bids from 1,889 people bidding online.

The auction proceeds will go towards the Grand Appeal’s campaign to support the expansion of the Bristol Children’s Hospital, one of the leading multi-disciplinary children’s hospitals in the UK.

The Grand Appeal has pledged to raise an initial £3.5m for state-of-the-art equipment, including an intraoperative MRI scanner, family facilities and child-friendly artwork to enhance the £31m investment by the NHS.

The appeal has already raised more than £22m for Bristol Children’s Hospital, one of only a few specialist children’s hospitals in the UK providing life-saving surgery, care and treatment to children on a local, national and international scale.

Highlights of last night’s auction were Nick Park’s unique sculpture Newshound which depicts both Wallace & Gromit, and fetched £50,000, Watch Out Dog! By Gerald Scarfe which also raised £50,000 and the top-dog on the night was Gromit Lightyear by Pixar which sold for £65,000. In total the auction raised £2,357,000.00.



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