The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) held its inaugural Gala for Child Protection on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at Gotham Hall in New York City. Some 300 people attended the gala, which honored world-renowned artist Jeff Koons and his wife, Justine Koons, and Microsoft. In addition, actor and philanthropist Ashton Kutcher delivered a special tribute to ICMEC’s founding CEO, Ernie Allen. There was also a memorable performance by 14-year-old opera singing phenom Sara Stevens. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell hosted the evening.
This year’s Gala raised more than $1.3 million, which will support ICMEC’s worldwide programs. The Gala included cocktails, dinner and a live auction led by Christie’s auctioneer Lydia Fenet. The live auction featured a private tour of Jeff Koons’ studio and a limited edition print, backstage passes to see a live filming of The Voice and a trip to London. In addition, Koons will donate the proceeds from the sale of The Balloon Monkey Wall Relief (Blue), which will be auctioned today at the Contemporary Art Week Sale at Christie’s.
Jeff and Justine Koons received ICMEC’s Champion for Children Award. In the wake of the abduction of his first son, Jeff and his wife, Justine, worked with ICMEC and inspired the creation of The Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy at ICMEC more than 10 years ago.
ICMEC presented Microsoft with the first Global Impact for Child Protection Award. For over a decade, Microsoft’s unstinting support of and partnership with ICMEC has resulted in the training of more than 6,000 law-enforcement officers around the world and the deployment of cutting-edge technology tools to enable law enforcement to more efficiently combat and investigate online child sexual exploitation.
Notable attendees include: Ashton Kutcher (actor), Jeff and Justine Koons (Gala honorees and internationally-celebrated American artists), Tim Cranton (Associate General Counsel, Microsoft), Norah O’Donnell (Gala Host and CBS This Morning anchor), Sara Stevens (performer), Ambassador Maura Harty (ICMEC President and CEO), Ernie Allen (ICMEC Founding CEO), Dr. Franz Humer (Gala chair) and Majo Fruithof Humer, Heidi Klum (model), Kelly Rutherford (actress), Lydia Fenet (Christie’s auctioneer), Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, George Bickerstaff (Host Committee chair), Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya, Bob Colacello (Vanity Fair), Wendy Fisher, Harry Macklowe, Pat Mitchell, Wendi Deng Murdoch, Lise Evans, Peter Pennoyer (architect), Scott Rothkopf (Whitney Museum of American Art), Vito Schnabel, Leelee Sobieski (actress) and Adam Kimmel, Amy Fine Collins, Sandra Brant, Ingrid Sischy, Debbie Bancroft, Alison and George Brokaw, Amanda Gutkin, Dan Cohen, Gjilberta Lucaj, Dr. Raymond Schinazi, Ari Wiseman (Guggenheim), Pat Mitchell, Bonnie Englebardt-Lautenberg and David Wright (ABC News).
Based in Arlington, Va., the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a private 501(c)(3) non-governmental, nonprofit organization. Since its inception in 1998, ICMEC has built a Global Missing Children’s Network of 23 nations; trained law enforcement, prosecutors and specialists from over 122 countries; and worked with parliaments in over 100 countries to refine or implement laws on child pornography and child protection.