Mandela portrait raises R2m for charity

4 December 2013

A portrait of former president Nelson Mandela has been bought by a private collector for US$200 000 (about R2-million), the highest price ever paid for a South African photograph, the charity 21 Icons said on Tuesday.

The money will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, currently under construction in Johannesburg, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The portrait, which was bought by a New York art collector, shows 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,” photographer Adrian Steirn said in a statement.

Steirn is also responsible for conceptualising 21 Icons, a nation-building project that celebrates the lives of 21 “extraordinary South Africans who have captured the global imagination with their dignity, humanity, hard work and selfless struggle for a better world”.

Other portraits in the series – including that of retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president FW de Klerk – will be auctioned in March 2014. The proceeds will be donated to the charity of each subject’s choice.

A children’s hospital has been a long-held dream of Mandela’s, and he has actively campaigned for funds for its construction. The 200-bed hospital is scheduled to open late in 2014.

Swati Dlamini, Mandela’s granddaughter, said: “To see this beautiful and moving portrait of our father and grandfather raise such significant sum for causes dear to him is heartwarming for our family. And for the project overall to raise crucial funds for so many important South African charities is a fitting tribute to Madiba as well as the other icons.”

SAinfo reporter and 21icons South Africa