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Last month, artist Ugo Rondinone decided to go public with some personal news.
“In May 2017 I was diagnosed with high-grade bladder cancer. Like most people, I had never heard of it or known someone diagnosed with bladder cancer,” he said. “Little did I know, bladder cancer is very common—with 429,800 new cases and 165,100 deaths in the U.S. in 2019. Despite the high incidence rate, treatment of bladder cancer has not changed much over the past 25 years.”
The concern propelled Rondinone to spearhead a fundraising event to change that. On September 26 at Sotheby’s, as a part of its larger Contemporary Curated sale, a benefit auction called Stop Bladder Cancer occurred. Alongside Rondinone’s yellow red white blue mountain, 2019, it featured donated works from 14 fellow artists. That night, the auction raised $1.1 million for the bladder cancer research center at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, specifically the work of Dr. Douglas Scherr and Dr. Juan Cubillos-Ruiz.
“After I was diagnosed, I was referred to Dr. Douglas Scherr, MD, Professor of Urology and the Clinical Director of Urologic Oncology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University,” said Rondinone. “Dr. Scherr has been instrumental in defining the hormonal regulation of Bladder Cancer and is now developing, together with Dr. Juan Cubillos-Ruiz, PhD, a novel class of compounds that utilize the innate immune system to fight urologic tumors. One of the important reasons for the relative lack of improvement in the treatment of bladder cancer is the low funding for research on Bladder Cancer. In the USA, research on breast cancer is supported annually with 600 million dollars, versus 22 million dollars spent on bladder cancer.”