Bees go under the hammer and raise a cool million for Manchester charities

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Manchester was buzzing on Wednesday night as 77 of the Bee in the City sculptures which featured on this summer’s art trail were auctioned, raising £1,128,250 for The Lord Mayor of Manchester’s We Love MCR Charity.

The auction was the finale to the spectacular, free, family-fun art trail which animated Manchester’s streets, parks and cultural venues this summer.

Queen Bee on the night was Joseph Venning’s Bee United which was adorned with Manchester United legends and sponsored by the club. It raised a massive £31,000 at auction plus an extra £5,000 donated by the club, making a grand total of £36,000.

United ambassador and former player Andrew Cole made a special appearance alongside the sculpture whilst former Manchester City player Mike Summerbee made an appearance alongside his former club’s Bee and namesake Mike Summer-Bee, which raised £25,000.

Other highlights included A Worker Bee’s Work is Never Done by Laura-Kate Chapman, which raised £25,000, and Dazzle Bee by Liz Faram which raised £25,200.

A surprise 78th lot was added to the auction at the end of the night: a blank Bee to be painted by the winner’s choice of a Bee in the City artist, which raised £22,000.

The Bees went under the hammer in front of a live audience at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre as well as online and telephone bidders.

Guests at the auction included Coronation Street stars Dolly-Rose Campbell, Melanie Hill and Charlie de Melo, who were delighted to see the show take home the Hilda Bugden Bee by Lee O’Brien, raising £12,150.

The auction was hosted by celebrity auctioneer and TV personality Charles Hanson of Bargain Hunt and Flog It! fame and Briony Harford, and followed a sell-out Bee in the City Farewell Weekend attended by more than 15,000 people who came to see all the big Bees from the art trail gathered together for the last time at the Velodrome.

The Bees from the art trail which were funded by and designed by community groups were not included in the auction and have gone back to be displayed in their neighbourhoods as a lasting legacy. The Original Worker Bee will remain in Central Library as a permanent exhibit.

All 131 little Bees created by children and young people have made their way back to the schools and youth groups that designed them.

The money raised at last night’s auction will support We Love MCR Charity’s Stronger Communities fund which provides grants of up to £2,000 for initiatives that bring communities together to celebrate diversity and build stronger relationships.

For a list of final hammer prices at the charity auction, click here.

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