Burning Man has partnered with auction house Sotheby’s to sell art, sculptures and other ephemera associated with the desert festival.
As Billboard reports, the auction comes as the not-for-profit event aims to stay afloat amid two years of cancelled festivals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed ‘Boundless Space: The Possibilities Of Burning Man’, it features more than 100 works by artists both in and outside of the Burning Man community, with a special focus on BIPOC artists.
The items are open for bidding until 8th October and include paintings, sculptures, NFTs and mutant vehicles, as well as experiences like stilt walking lessons. Prices for some items are currently reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The auction came about after ’80s hip hop legend and Burning Man board member Fab Five Freddy told Charles F. Stewart, CEO of Sotheby’s, that Burning Man needed to raise money due to losses incurred during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Sotheby’s has waived some of its fees on the auction, and some artists have donated work for free or agreed to receive only part of the proceeds.
It’s hoped that the auction will keep Burning Man afloat until it plans to start selling tickets for its 2022 edition in January.
Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell told Billboard: “We’re going to have to start selling tickets otherwise we don’t have enough money. We have money to get to the end of year barely. The auction is going to be important.”
Having generated almost $43 million from its 2019 event, Burning Man organisers say that they lost 90% of the event’s annual revenue from its cancellation the following year. As a result, they put a call out to donors in September 2020, which has largely kept the company afloat until now and ensured that no staff were made redundant.
Despite the 2021 edition of Burning Man being cancelled earlier this year, more than 10,000 people still headed out to the festival’s usual base in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, for an unofficial event in September.
A musical based on Burning Man was also released to streaming audiences this past summer.