Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Luminaire’s PaperLove Art Auction Raises $240,000 to Benefit Sylvester


With titles such as “Paper Vase,” “Kiss,” “Just a Moment,” and “Recycle Me,” the creations of dozens of artists were displayed for Luminaire PaperLove on Thursday evening, December 4. While the online bidding is still being tallied, the live art auction, created by Luminaire founders Nargis and Nasir Kassamali, raised more than $240,000 for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Among the estimated 400 of South Florida’s art elite who attended the cocktail reception was Ivana Trump. Art lovers mingled with designers, artists and architects who brought their creativity together for this philanthropic art event. For PaperLove, artists were invited to create a one-of-a-kind work of art using paper as the primary medium. More than 50 artists translated their vision into a creation to meet that challenge. Each work of art was displayed at Luminaire Lab in the Miami Design District.

Nargis and Nasir Kassamali hosted PaperLove with the same spirit of giving they injected when hosting Luminaire PuppyLove two years ago. Touched by cancer themselves, the artistic couple say they “wanted to give something back to South Florida and help in the fight against cancer.” In 2006, that urge to give back is what led them to host PuppyLove, giving each artist a blank canvas puppy to decorate.

Mira Jovic, originally from Yugoslavia but now an artist in Mexico, was eager to participate in the event, but found the work a struggle. Her piece, “Just a Moment,” was meant to symbolize her emotions at losing her own mother to cancer. Jovic met the Kassamalis several years ago in Mexico and says they are “real people with a real purpose.”

Colombian artist Federico Uribe participated in PuppyLove and didn’t hesitate to be part of this year’s event. He designed “Cityscape,” cutting different sized books to create a city skyline “made up of stories: horror, misery, ambition … happiness, tenderness.” Uribe had a separate exhibit going on during Art Basel, but said he had to make time to help his friends.
Art collectors were able to bid on most of the items online December 1-8, but eight pieces were held out for Thursday’s live auction, hosted by Christie’s. Guests had a chance to see each of the works up close, at the cocktail hour, before being escorted across the street where dinner and the auction took place.

As the more than 200 guests were seated for dinner, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School, thanked the crowd for attending. In a nod to Nargis Kassamali’s five-time bout with breast cancer, Goldschmidt said the couple’s “fight against cancer is inspiring.”

That sentiment was echoed by W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., director of Sylvester, who noted the similarities between science and art. Just as art inspires, “physicians and scientists are working together to bring new hope to patients.” Guests broke into hearty applause after watching a video featuring three Sylvester scientists describing their work on breakthrough anti-cancer discoveries.

One guest, fashion stylist Jorge Ramon, was there with two colleagues who all applauded the effort to use art to help in the fight against cancer. He had his eye on a couple of items in the auction and said, “It’s a way to spend money and give it toward something worthwhile.”

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