by mark shand, as told to catherine sabino | February 24, 2014 | Style & Beauty
Celebrities and artists team up for the Fabergé Egg Hunt’s New York debut, spearheaded by renowned conservationist Mark Shand and art philanthropist Agnes Gund.
A penny for your thoughts? Artist Jane Morgan’s design for the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt in London.
From April 1–26, New York’s five boroughs will be the setting for a unique egg hunt, organized to benefit conservation and art charities. Its predecessor, The Big Egg Hunt in London, created a media frenzy in 2012 and ultimately raised more than $1.5 million for notable conservation and children’s causes. Leading global artists, designers, and architects, including Bruce Weber, Carolina Herrera, Olivier Theyskens, Tracey Emin, Ralph Lauren, and Zaha Hadid have agreed to design eggs for the April hunt; several hundred of these specially crafted objects will be hidden all over town.
Proceeds from the event, which is open to the public, and the subsequent auction of the eggs, will benefit the Elephant Family and Studio in a School, founded by Agnes Gund, president emerita of MoMA. Author, conservationist, and Elephant Family chair Mark Shand talks to Gotham about how the hunt made it across the Atlantic and what we can expect with this citywide extravaganza.
“New York is a place I’ve always liked. It makes a great backdrop and is so filled with art that it just seemed like an incredible place to do a Fabergé Egg Hunt.
Coming to New York as a conservation agency, looking out for endangered species (we’ve now gone beyond Asian elephants to deal more with the illegal wildlife trade in Africa and Asia, which has been so prominent in the news lately), I’d heard about Agnes. [The artist] Clifford Ross put me in touch with her initially. She’s such a remarkable woman, and had this extraordinary idea for art in schools. We’d been working on this idea of art and conservation for a long time. I think art and conservation works so well together because, to me, the greatest art in the world is nature.
As I’ve traveled a lot, I made many influential friends along the way, so it was mainly through connections that the project started. People thought it would be a great fit for New York and were supportive of the causes, Elephant Family and Studio in a School, that the hunt benefits. Connections are so important in charity work because they pull people in... especially in New York. Caroline Kennedy [who is on the committee] has been so supportive. She’s in Japan now, as ambassador, but should be back for this. Caroline, to me, is like a sister. I can sit with her and be frank, and she’s always very helpful.
We’ve had 2,000 applications and had to turn people away. More than 250 participants have been selected. There may be more—we can’t say no to a great artist, because in the end, we’re raising money for two very important causes.
We’ve tried to be as diverse as possible. The majority will be New York–based artists, but from every genre: Photographers, architects, and street artists are always people we involve.
What I found so satisfying is how eggs created by emerging artists for the London hunt fetched fortunes. There are so many people with great talent who have no chance of doing their own exhibition. We give 15 percent of the auction price to the artists themselves, although the big names tend to waive it. As a result of the hunt, certain artists were able to leave their jobs and work on their art full-time. Since these objects are one-off pieces, they make great investments.
Artist Shantell Martin at work.
Each contributor gets a two-and-a-half foot fiberglass egg to start. They can do with the egg whatever they like.
We’re pretty good at these events now, although they’re not easy to do. The execution is really challenging. We were up all night before the London hunt, trying to put out 200 eggs, drilling them into their places. By the time we opened in the morning, we could hardly walk. There was a learning curve, but it was worth it. In New York, the eggs will be delivered to some locations in advance [and secured to their spots].
The New York hunt will be spread throughout the five boroughs, with locations including Queens Plaza and P.S.1 in Queens; Snug Harbor in Staten Island; Dumbo and the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn; Grand Central Station, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center in Manhattan; and the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
The 2012 Big Egg Hunt in London.
As to where people will look—there will be a fairy tale, more for children really, that will guide them on their search. You’ll be able to buy the book, so that’s quite a nice add-on. Each week we’ll give a prize to a winner of the hunt, a Fabergé pendant that will be adorned with the jewel of the week.
Where will we do this next? I’ve been approached by a lot of places. Miami would be cool. Hong Kong, too. I would consider doing it again in a city that I know. But I have to split my time with these events. The conservation side is desperate at the moment and I really have to spend time out in the field.”