Conservation, Environmentalist

DiCaprio Raises $38 Million for Conservation

Leonardo DiCaprio Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio at the premiere of “Blood Diamond” in 2006.
s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes it’s hard to forget he played Jack Dawson in the movie Titanic.  He was also Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.  You might also recognize him from such movies as The Beach, Shutter Island, Inception, The Departed, Django Unchained, The Aviator, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Catch Me If You Can or 30 other movies.  Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is recognizable.

You may not know that he has his own charity.  It’s called the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and it raises money for global conservation projects such as the creation of sanctuaries and the protection of natural habitats.  The aim is to save endangered animals from extinction.

In May, DiCaprio hosted an art auction, drawing guests from 33 countries, at Christie’s in New York City.  On the auction block were 33 pieces of contemporary art.  The actor was able to persuade artists to either donate or create new works for the 11th Hour Auction.  Amazingly, this event broke records for the sale of artists at auction.  They brought in about $31.7 million that night.

However, many others wanted to give to the cause and someone donated $5 million for the conservation of areas for large cats.  All in all, $38.8 million was raised.

The auction, for once, drew attention to the cause for which it was intended.  The sad truth is that only two percent of philanthropic money goes toward the support of global conservation projects.  Yet, we are losing around 140,000 plant and animal species per year.  The numbers are staggering.

DiCaprio said, “We are facing a tipping point of environmental crisis unprecedented in human history and our very survival is dependent on protecting nature. There are less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild, we’ve lost 90 percent of the world’s sharks, and it looks like we might lose the African elephant entirely in the next 10 years if we don’t take action.”

Celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Tobey Maguire and Salma Hayek were there to bid and let the world know these issues are ones that are near and dear to their hearts.

Maguire walked away with two works.  He snagged Late Summer, a Rob Pruitt painting of a panda for $300,000 and Sergej Jensen’s untitled piece literally made of money bags sewn together for $250,000.  Money bags sounds like an apt title for either the piece of art or Maguire.

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