Jane Fonda, Christie’s and Gagosian Are Staging a Benefit Auction to Fight Big Oil

Artists like Nan Goldin and Ed Ruscha have donated artwork to a benefit auction and selling exhibition to raise funds for an environmental grassroots campaign.

Linen canvas with phrase "UPS DOWNS" written in white
Ed Ruscha, Ups Downs, (2023). © Ed Ruscha/ Photo: Brica Wilcox/Courtesy Gagosian.

Actor and activist Jane Fonda is partnering with Gagosian Gallery and Christie's to support the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California, a grassroots coalition of environmental activists and health professionals pushing for more regulation in oil and gas drilling. Contemporary artists like Nan Goldin, Frank Gehry, Alex Israel, Mark Grotjahn and Catherine Opie have donated works to a multi-part initiative, which kicks off today (April 9) with a California fundraiser hosted by gallerist Larry Gagosian, philanthropists Susie and Mark Buell, activist Aileen Getty and Fonda, who has previously spoken out against regulation repeal attempts by calling them “the most egregious attack on democracy and public health I’ve ever seen.” The event’s star-studded co-host list includes actor Sean Penn and musician john legend.

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Selected artwork will be auctioned in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale in May, while other pieces will be presented for sale later this summer during an exhibition at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills location. One standout piece is Ed Ruscha’s Up Down, a linen and acrylic work from 2023.

Using art to fight climate injustice

Proceeds from the fundraiser and auction sales will support the Campaign for Safe and Healthy California’s fight to prevent the repeal of a 2022 bill that prohibits the drilling of new oil wells within 3,200 feet of schools, homes, daycares, health care centers, jails and parks. Signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom, SB1137 also lays out requirements that make current wells safer. But oil and gas industry groups, which have lobbied to repeal the law, in 2023 managed to secure a voter referendum to be included on the 2024 ballot.

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The oil industry has already spent $53 million to keep drilling in California neighborhoods, according to the campaign, which also noted that oil and gas wells located near sensitive areas expose more than two million Californians to dangerous conditions. “Youth and working families in frontline communities across California, have the right to breathe clean air and live in safe neighborhoods free from the constant health harms caused by oil drilling such as respiratory infections, asthma, reduced lung function, and childhood leukemia,” said Darryl Molina-Sarmiento, a campaign member and executive director of Communities for a Better Environment, in a statement.

“I am thrilled to be able to use my love of art to propel the fight against climate injustice while simultaneously uplifting the work of these talented and generous artists,” said Fonda in a statement. The actress first discussed the environmental grassroots campaign with Gagosian, a long-time friend. “I have always admired her activism, and when she brought this urgent—David vs. Goliath—cause to my attention, I didn’t hesitate,” said the art dealer in a statement. “It’s an honor to partner with her on this crucial issue impacting my home state of California.”

Jane Fonda, Christie’s and Gagosian Are Staging a Benefit Auction to Fight Big Oil