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 last Dec. 16.
The chairs were briefly used by world leaders including US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and President Benigno S.C. Aquino III at the Apec 2015 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 Peña Nieto and Obama—as “Apec hottie.”
At the press preview held a week before the auction, Unicef Special Advocate for Children Daphne Oseña-Paez predicted that Trudeau’s chair would receive the highest bid.
“Also, I’m biased since I’m a Canadian citizen,” she quipped.
“We really wanted to hold the auction for Unicef soon after Apec while it was still fresh in people’s minds,” she added.
What was originally supposed to be an auction of the chair used by Obama grew into a record-breaking one, including five more chairs and resulting in over P8 million raised for charity.
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 Peña Nieto went for P1,550,000 and P1,500,000, while the winning bids for the chairs used by Loong and Abe reached P1 million and P710,000, respectively.
On Instagram on Dec. 17, Cobonpue thanked those involved in the successful auction, adding that the money raised would “go a long way toward 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 more than the combined amount of the three previous auctions spearheaded by Oseña-Paez since 2011 and participated in by Cobonpue and other local artists and designers like Elmer Borlongan, Michael Cacnio and Daniel dela Cruz.
“Officially, I have raised P8.2 million for Unicef over three auction events,” she said.
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.”