The online auction of six Yoda chairs by industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue to benefit Unicef’s children’s programs brought in a total of P8.76 million in just two hours during the online auction held Dec. 16.
The chairs were briefly used by world leaders including US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minsiter Shinzo Abe, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and President Benigno S.C. Aquino III at the welcome dinner reception held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The highest bid, amounting to P2,050,000, went to the chair used by Trudeau who was labeled along with Pena Nieto and Obama as the “Apec hotties.” At the press preview held a week before the auction, Unicef Special Advocate for Children Daphne Osena-Paez predicted that Trudeau’s seat would receive the highest bid. “Also, I’m biased since I am a Canadian citizen,” she quipped.
Cobonpue predicted Obama’s chair to get the highest bid; it came a close second with a cool P2 million. Those used by Aquino and Pena Nieto went for P1,550,000 and P1,500,000 while the winning bids for the chairs used by Loong and Abe reached P1,000,000 and P710,000, respectively.
In his Instagram account late on Dec. 17, Cobonpue thanked everyone for the successful auction, adding that the money raised would “go a long way towards helping indigent mothers and children in the Philippines.” Unicef’s 1,000 Days campaign aims to provide sufficient prenatal and after birth nutrition for babies from the moment of conception.
The record amount raised in this auction alone is almost as much as the three previous auctions spearheaded by Osena-Paez since 2011 and participated in by Cobonpue and other local artists and designers.
Cobonpue initially pegged his swiveling Yoda chairs at P75,000–also the starting bid for each chair.
“We’re very thankful for Kenneth’s generosity,” said Lotta Sylwander, Unicef Philippines’ country representative. “This auction will go a long way in ensuring more children can benefit from this life-changing Unicef initiative.