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'Orgy of the Rich' Protest Hit Sotheby's Auction (VIDEOS)

First Posted: 02/18/11 02:34 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:35 PM ET

Just as Andy Warhol's Nine Multicolored Marilyns was unveiled at Sotheby's in London Wednesday evening, a group of protesters crashed the auction. The group set off alarms, started loudly moaning, tossed fake £50 notes in the air and displayed a large banner with the words "orgy of the rich."

Hyperallergic wondered whether it was a critique of Warhol or simply coincidence that they began as Warhol's work was revealed.

In addition to the indoor "orgy," protesters outside on New Bond Street staged a mock auction of public services. They also held signs which read, "1 Warhol = 222 tuitions," and "I Like Money on the Wall."

The protesters belonged to Arts Against Cuts, UK Uncut and Space Hijackers, all groups against the UK government's plans for massive funding cuts for the arts.

Interestingly, both audience members and Sotheby's staff members took the protest in stride. (Afterall, they ought to be fans of performance art.) Belgian collector Mark Vanmoerkerke was quoted in the Evening Standard sympathizing with the protesters' stance,

It's fun to see people stand up for what they believe in. An orgy of the rich? They're not exactly wrong.

Despite the protests, the auction was successful, with 95% of works sold for a total of £44.4 million. Some of the works sold included David Hockney, Antony Gormley, and a pile of 1,000 hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds by Ai Weiwei which were sold to a telephone bidder for £349,250.

Watch clips of both the indoor "orgy" and outdoor auction protests below.


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Filed by Melinda Brocka  |