Metinvest Group's Saving Lives humanitarian initiative held an auction to support Ukrainians impacted by the war during a charity event in Milan, Italy, on March 8.
The event brought together 185 business leaders from Italy, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Ukraine. The auction featured rare artifacts of the wartime and peacetime lives of Ukrainians donated by Metinvest and Ukrainian cultural and sports figures. The world-famous Bolaffi House conducted the auction pro bono.
The most expensive lot, a copy of a mural, entitled “Milana”, from Mariupol and made on steel from the Azovstal steelworks, was sold for €14,000. In 2018, a portrait of six-year-old Milana Abdurashytova, whose life was devastated by the war with the Russians in eastern Ukraine, appeared on the wall of a high-rise building in Mariupol. During shelling in the winter of 2015, Milana's mother was killed while shielding her daughter. The girl survived but lost her leg. In 2022, the Russian occupiers destroyed the mural along with the building. The painter of the mural is Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Korban.
Milana's story has touched our hearts. We are glad to support Metinvest's initiative and will soon bring this iconic painting on a steel plate to Steelforce's office in Antwerp. It will have a special place in our building. Just as I hope Milana will take a special place in our hearts as a symbol and example of human values that we should be guided by in our personal and professional lives.—Kurt Crollet, CEO of Belgium’s Steelforce Group.
A painting by Dasha Kandinsky sold for €13,000, taking second place. The artist was born in Ukraine and now lives in Switzerland. She is a member of the Kandinsky dynasty, renowned for founding the abstractionism art movement. The artist has held solo exhibitions across Ukraine, France, and the US. Her works have also been featured in exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg and Scotland. Dasha created the painting specially for the charity auction.
A victory flag from Snake Island, which sold for €9,500 euros, came third. The flag belongs to the reconnaissance servicemen of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 73rd Naval Centre named after Kosh Otaman Antin Holovaty. After the island was liberated from the occupiers, they landed on the shore to demine it and collect data on equipment and weapons abandoned by the Russians.
A rare workwear jacket from Azovstal’s bomb shelter signed by Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi was bought for €8,000. Together with the plant’s employees and the defenders of Mariupol, it endured the siege by Russian troops.
The lots associated with Azovstal also included a ”Symbol of Perseverance” steel bracelet made from the last pre-war batch of steel from the steel plant-turned-fortress. Mariupol artist, Oleksandr Malakhovskyi, who worked at Azovstal for many years, donated a painting that captures the pre-war image of the industrial giant.
Zaporizhstal steelworkers created the painting "A Country of Steel People" specifically for the auction using Azovstal steel. The steel map of Ukraine shows regional centres and Crimea.
European music fans purchased a vinyl record with the best songs from the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest winner Jamala and a score signed by the world-famous conductor Oksana Lyniv.
Football club Shakhtar donated a ball with the autographs of players for the auction, and Ukraine's most expensive football player, Mykhailo Mudryk, and famous wrestler Zhan Beleniuk signed tee-shirts.
The auction also featured lots created by people who have been helped by the project, such as a vase made from a mortar shell with Petrykivka painting and scarves with the prints made by participants in the Unbreakable Mum programme for psychological recovery.
A young artist who survived the occupation also created a painting for the auction.
The Saving Lives humanitarian initiative was created by Metinvest Group in coordination with the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation at the beginning of the war to help Ukraine. During the first year of the full-scale invasion, almost 500,000 people received a total of €8.4 million in assistance through the project. Ukrainians have received more than 4,000 tonnes of foodstuffs and hygiene products, as well as hospital medicines, consumables, and equipment worth more than €246,000.
Together with the Ukraine Prosthetic Assistance Project, the initiative has launched a prosthetics programme that encompasses 34 people who have undergone limb amputations and are currently going through different stages of the programme. Seven of them have already received prostheses worth up to €30,000.
Saving Lives is also helping women and children affected by the war to recover psychologically. Thanks to the implementation of the Unbreakable Mum programme in partnership with the Masha Foundation, 140 people have received assistance.
More than 200 companies from around the world have joined the project as donors. The initiative is supported by 400 volunteers and 10 foundations and non-governmental organisations.