It’s been a crazy 48 hours, and I’ve only just found the time to sit down and write about the amazing Go Go Gorilla auction that took place at the Forum, Norwich on Thursday night (October 3rd).
I’ve mentioned a couple times on this blog that mid-way through the summer I actually moved away from Norfolk to take on my first graduate job; a temporary contract with Channel 4 Learning in Hammersmith, London. So working all week, I genuinely had to make a mad dash after work to get over to Norwich in time for the auction. But I’d followed the Go Go Gorilla events and supported the charities throughout all of this year – I wasn’t going to not be there at the end (and yes, I had a very long commute to work Friday morning).
It was definitely worth it though! I loved that the Forum had transformed into a glamorous auction room with a red carpet, VIP tables and great ambiance from the lighting.
Upon arrival, after passing a gorilla-lined red carpet , I was handed my bidding card (more of a memento than to actually bid with) and headed up to the gallery, where I was overlooking the events of the evening (knowing I couldn’t afford the thousands of pounds each gorilla would go for, it seemed unnecessary to be seated downstairs).
The evening kicked off with speeches from Break charity’s patron Jake Humphrey. I must admit, my interest in this whole initiative came from my support and following of the Born Free Foundation; which I have supported since I was a child, and even traveled to South Africa to volunteer at their big cat sanctuaries there. But Born Free is only a partner of this project; the main driving force has been Break charity, which is an East Anglia-based charity that supports young people in care (and there after), children and young people with disabilities, families in need of support and Children at risk.
In credit to this whole project – I had never heard of Break before this summer. Now, I must have tweeted them about 50 times and through various Go Go Gorilla news articles and leaflets, I’m very aware of their work, and will continue to support this fantastic charity in the future. Here are the opening speeches from the night from Break patron Jake Humphrey:
Followed by the man responsible for this amazing initiative, who has spent the last TWO YEARS putting it together; Go Go Gorilla trail organiser Martin Green: (I was amazed to hear over a million people had taken part in the trail!
The auction quickly got under way with the first commissioned gorilla, Nelson (the gorilla responsible for selling the idea to the sponsors), painted by local artist Mik Richardson and representing Break Charity; selling for £7,000. A great start to night.
I loved how much the crowd got behind the sales; cheering as each major target was reached.
Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest money-raisers of the night was Mr. Carrow, the Norwich City Football Club inspired gorilla, which spent the summer at the football ground. He was the first gorilla to break the £15,000 mark (and second to reach £10,000 after Horatio) and the hammer was lowered at a staggering £17,000!
The gorilla voted ‘public’s favourite’ via local newspaper poles (through Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, which have backed the charity project from the beginning); Alan gorilla was signed by Steve Coogan himself at the Anglia Square world premiere of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa earlier in the summer. I was surprised that given Alan Partridge’s publicity, and the publicity given to Norwich due to his debut blockbuster film (albeit a lightly mocking view) his gorilla doppelganger only fetched £5,000 at auction – which in comparison with some of the most popular gorillas of the night, wasn’t as much as I was expecting.
There was no doubt in my mind – that given all the scandal around him (as documented on this blog) – Freddie Radio Go Go Gorilla was going to be the highest reaching sale of the night. Also painted by local artist Mik Richardson (who worked on 5 of the gorillas in total – and some of the mini gorillas that were decorated by schools) this gorilla – which looked great pre and post make over! – reached an amazing £20,000!!
Watch the auction action for the highest selling gorilla of the night here: (I love the theme music that Freddie is introduced with)
I’m so pleased with the way that the local community of Norwich, the local (and national news) and Born Free Foundation’s patron, Queen guitarist Brian May, supported the Go Go Gorilla and Break Foundation against the controversy that this chimpy chappy caused – and although he did have to have a make over – I think he looked great both ways!
All in all, the auction sales reached a staggering £272,300 by the end of the night! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was certainly higher!
At the end of the sales, a (slightly emotional) Martin Green was presented with a mini gorilla of his own, a design that Jake Humphrey said he had supported, but it had never made it to the final creations. I can’t stress enough how brilliant this whole fundraising initiative has been, and how proud it’s made me of Norwich and as a Born Free supporter (and now a Break supporter too)!
In-keeping with this blog’s theme; yesterday’s (4th October) Eastern Daily Press newspaper gave an insight into the work of Born Free Foundation and why it was chosen as a partner to this project:
At the end of the proceedings, I went and had a chat with some of the main people involved with Go Go Gorillas initiative, and this is what they had to say:
Jake Humphrey – Break Charity Patron:
“It has been great for bringing people together. To have something as abstract as gorillas across the streets of Norwich and to know how much support has been behind it – it’s shown even more how much of an incredible city this is.”
Martin Green – Go Go Gorilla Organiser, Break Charity:
“It’s great, it’s been really good and thank you to everyone who has gotten behind it. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”
Mik Richardson – Go Go Gorilla Artist (Freddie “Radio Go Go”, Nelson, Juno, Gladstone, Gonzo – sales total at auction: £40,900):
” [On Freddie Radio Go Go] I’m the biggest Queen fan! The press kept asking me what I thought about it all [Freddie being re-painted] and I said; ‘It’s a shame, because I don’t think it will sell for as much now’ – but I’m not so sure anymore! When it all happened, I didn’t think I’d get it re-painted in time: I was so busy. I was coming back and working on it until 1am. I mean I’m usually a mural artist so this whole thing was challenging, but the reaction has been good and it’s been really fun working with the school’s painting their mini gorillas.”
A full list of prices that the gorilla’s reached can be seen here (taken from today’s Eastern Daily Press):
What a truly fabulous ending to the Go Go Gorilla summer! I must admit, I felt a little sad as I walked out past the last few gorillas being loaded up for delivery to their owners! Though, I expect I’ll still get to see some of them in some of the local businesses of Norwich. Hopefully.