(Waterloo, WI) – Watch out cancer, you’re really in for it this time. Through the sale of just seven custom painted, one-of-a-kind Trek bicycles, the “It’s About the Bike” auction, held November 1st at Sotheby’s in New York City, generated an unprecedented $1.25 million to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s cancer research, awareness, and advocacy programs.
Sunday’s auction represents the zenith of STAGES, a global art exhibition designed to raise both funds and awareness for cancer research, treatment, and prevention. Over 20 renowned artists devoted their expertise and created unique artwork to be showcased and ultimately auctioned off to benefit Armstrong’s cancer-fighting foundation, LiveStrong.
As part of STAGES, Trek, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Nike and some of the most recognized and influential contemporary artists from across the globe teamed up to create a unique collection of bicycles that blur the lines separating art, culture, and technology. Armstrong then raced the eye-catchingly unique Trek Madone, TTX and Speed Concept bikes throughout his 2009 return to professional cycling, including stages of the Tour de France.
"Each of these artists gave their time to this cause," said Armstrong in a LiveStrong press release. "Through the dollars that we raise, we'll increase awareness, fund research and work to end the stigma about cancer that many survivors face."
Raising an unprecedented $500,000, the exhibitions undisputed favorite was the Damien Hirst-designed “Butterfly” Trek Madone, which featured hundreds of real, shimmering insect wings affixed to the bicycle’s frame and rims. Armstrong rode the distinctive piece of artwork during the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France.
Other bikes auctioned included Shepard Fairey’s elaborately decaled Trek Madone, ridden by Armstrong during this year’s Giro d’Italia, which generated $110,000, and Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s Trek Speed Concept, ridden by Armstrong during the 2009 Tour de France’s Annecy time trial stage, which garnered $200,000.
Trek and its custom bike program, Project One, have a rich tradition of partnering with Lance Armstrong to create tailor-made bikes, starting with the "Sabreline" Project One bike Armstrong rode briefly during the 2002 Tour de France. For the rest of his career—and even after retirement—Lance has more or less ridden Project One custom painted bikes.
“When Lance announced his intention to return to professional cycling in 2009, it was natural for Trek's Creative Group to begin working on a new set of custom-painted models,” explained Eric Lynn, Creative Director at Trek Bicycle.
A short time later, during a conversation with Trek Bicycle President John Burke, Armstrong discussed the importance of the LiveStrong Global Cancer Campaign and his desire to link the best contemporary artists with Trek in an effort to raise awareness and generate funds to benefit his Foundation as part of the STAGES project.
Trek responded by providing contemporary artists, including Kenny Scharf, KAWS, Shepard Fairey, Marc Newson, Yoshitomo Nara and Damian Hurst, with consultation to describe fabrication possibilities based on Trek's custom-formulated coatings. The artists were briefed on traditional paint and airbrush techniques as well as masking and decal options in order to pick the methods best suited for each design. Each bicycle was uniquely handled; some frames were decorated strictly with paint, some required extensive decal work, while others used hybrid production techniques and pushed the envelope of aesthetic possibility on a bicycle.
The inaugural STAGES exhibition took place in Paris at the conclusion of the 2009 Tour de France before traveling to New York City in October. In December, STAGES will conclude its world tour in Miami Beach.