JOHANNESBURG (AP) – A photographic portrait of Nelson Mandela has been bought by a private art collector in New York for $200,000, the highest price ever paid for a local portrait, organizers said Tuesday.
The money will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, currently under construction in Johannesburg, and to the World Wildlife Fund. The portrait is part of a series of 21 portraits of South African icons
The portrait, by 21 Icons creator and photographer Adrian Steirn, depicts Nelson Mandela’s face reflected in a mirror.
“I wanted Madiba to hold a mirror so that we could see a man reflecting on his life. As he reflects on his life, we reflect on his legacy and our future,” Steirn said, using Mandela’s clan name.
The remaining portraits, including those of former Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President F.W. De Klerk, will be auctioned at an event in March 2014, with proceeds donated to the charity of each subject’s choice.
Eykyn Maclean, a New York and London-based gallery, facilitated the sale of the Mandela portrait.
The anonymous buyer said about the portrait: “I am honored to own what has already become an iconic image of one of the greatest statesmen the world has ever known. In a single frame the photographer has captured the essence of dignity, principle, conviction and courage in this great man from whose life’s work and dedication to a greater cause we all have much to learn, and by which I am inspired daily.”
The construction of a children’s hospital has been a long-held dream of Mandela’s and before he fell ill he had campaigned for funds for its construction. The state-of-the-art hospital is scheduled to open late in 2014 and will be a 200-bed facility providing world-class pediatric care.
Mandela, 95, is in critical but stable condition, under intensive medical care at his Johannesburg home, after being discharged in September from a lengthy hospitalization.
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