Wow, what a night… where do I begin!? So last Thursday, the 3rd October, saw the auction of all 80 giant gromit statues, which was held in a massive marquee right here in Bristol, all for charity, The Grand Appeal - caring for the Bristol Children’s Hospital! The day started with a bang, when national news covered it, with BBC Breakfast News going LIVE from the auction centre in the morning whilst everything was being prepared!
I was super stoked because my big shiny pink dog managed to muscle it’s way into shot, which was very flippin’ exciting indeed!
The excitement through the day was just too much to bear! I went to work super early because I was leaving the office early to head up to the auction venue, as I had designed the slideshow which displayed all the Gromit info and was also sorting out the live streaming of the event, so I was fretting about getting that stuff working right, and not really thinking too much about the selling of the dogs!
Once we got there and after a few hours had wrestled with cameras and software and live feeds, the live streaming set-up was good to go and we were ready to broadcast online when the auction kicked off. People flooded through the doors and grabbed their champagne and sat down to watch a series of films that my fellow Aardman-ite Matt Purgas had edited together, and one of them included the film I made about the process of designing and painting my big dog:
The last film that was shown was a beautiful film by Bristol’s Icon Films, which documented a former patient of the Bristol Children’s Hospital, who was treated for leukemia as a child (and made a full recovery) who is now a paediatrician at that very same Bristol Children’s Hospital, how wonderful is that!?
Once the films were done, it was time to kick things off and we had the legend that is Bargain Hunt presenter and former Sotheby’s director, Tim Wonnacott! He handled things like a boss, and when the very first Gromit, Lot no. 1 'Patch' went for a small fortune, we knew we were in for a fantastic night!
What happened over the next 3 and a half hours was just incredible, Gromit after Gromit passed by and every single one of them raised more than anyone could have imagined! The magical figure touted around was that if the Grand Appeal could raise a cool £1million that night then they would have been absolutely overjoyed… what actually happened was that barely one third of the lots had been sold and we smashed that million pound barrier!
Over the course of the evening, in total, an unbelievable £2,357,000 was raised!! Yeap, that’s right, TWO POINT THREE FIVE SEVEN MILLION POUNDS!! The atmosphere in the room and the noise when we hit the £2m mark was just fantastic, no-one could quite believe it, everyone was clapping and whooping whilst still in shock!
My Gromit, Stat’s the way to do it, lad! was Lot no. 44 and I was so excited, nervous and terrified, all rolled into one! I was so scared that it wouldn’t sell, and I’d be left looking like an absolute plumb, not making any money for the charity… Tim kicked off the auction by asking for £10k - that pause where there was silence made my heart sink and seemed to last for a week, I was ready for the ground to swallow me up… then within a few seconds I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, it had jumped to £17k… and it flippin’ kept on going!! I was speechless throughout the whole thing (which is VERY rare), in disbelief with what was happening, until the hammer went down and it turns out that my big pink dog, with its gold bits, sold for a mind-boggling £29,000!! Twenty nine grand!! What!? How!? Who!? £29k!!!
Its been a week since the auction and I still can’t get my head around it, I’m absolutely overjoyed, humbled and blown away by that fact! Fellow Aardman Digital designer and very dear friend Sarah Matthews aka Bernys Place, sold her Gromit 'Ship Shape & Bristol Fashion' for £26k, meaning between us we brought in £55,000. Just typing that makes my brain fuzzy and my heart flutter, what a thing to be able to say!!
You can watch the entire auction right here, as the live stream was saved to be able to watch after the event. Skip to 2hours 1min to be able to see my bit, or put your feet up and watch the entire thing:
Other highlights include Pixar’s 'Gromit Lightyear' selling for £65,000, Gerald Scarfe’s dog making £50,000 and Nick Park’s one-off Gromit and Wallace going for a cool £50k!! It was simply staggering what each doggy went for.
We were all in a daze after it had all ended, wandering around with fuzzy brains, trying to make sense of what happened. I shared a big hug with Nick, the man himself, whilst he was signing autographs and posing for photographs. I can’t imagine how proud he must have felt, knowing his character has made such a difference to peoples lives.
I’d like to take a the time to say a HUGE thank you to Lauren, Sarah, Nicola and EVERYBODY at The Grand Appeal who has made this ride so much fun. It’s been absolutely bonkers and every step of the way has been so exciting! They have done an incredible job and have done themselves and Bristol proud!
Nick Park, Angie Last, Peter Lord, David Sproxton and all at Aardman are just amazing, as always, and it’s always so a pleasure to work so closely to the men and women that inspired me and continue to inspire me in what I do, I truly am so lucky, I know that for sure!
To the people that came to visit the Gromits on the trail and in the 'pup-up' gallery - thank you!! It’s your support and enthusiasm that has made this all possible and created something I will never forget!
To the lovely people with money, it’s you guys that have raised over £2million for an incredible cause, helping sick children and their families get better, what a beautiful thing to say you’ve helped with. And to the lovely people that bought my Gromit, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! You are wonderful people!! I can’t say too much about it yet, as it’s a surprise, but there is more news coming soon about where 'Pinky' will live next, stay tuned for that!
It’s not the end for Gromit Unleashed either, the Grand Appeal is hard at work creating lots of new things to continue the legacy of unleashed, especially with the release of the mini figurines which are just so flippin’ awesome! The response to the mini versions of my Gromit has been so overwhelming, it’s so lovely seeing people with their mini ones in their home!
Don’t worry though if you missed out on the initial pre-order of the above mini pinky, there’s a new batch of stock being delivered to the Gromit Unleashed store real soon AND i’m also getting a very special batch of 50 mini Gromits, which I will sell on my own store, and each one will be signed, have the boxes doodled on and come with a digitally numbered & specially designed bundle of bits - all for £50 each (they’re normally £35, and all of it goes to the charity!) - So stay tuned more info on when that’s happening!
Well, i’d best wrap it up hadn’t I… I just want to say thank you, to everyone, to the universe, for letting me be a part of the most incredible project. It really is a true honour to be able to be involved in this, to make something that is so much fun, that brings so much joy to other people, it really doesn’t get better than this, and I am so lucky to be able to be involved.
I am overwhelmed, honoured and humbled. Don’t ever underestimate how far being excitable, passionate and kind to people can get you. Because it can give you the chance to paint giant famous dogs, and it doesn’t get better than that!
Thank you for reading!
P.S Thank you to Oliver Edwards for the fantastic photographs at the top of the blog!