Doddie Weir portrait raises £100,000 for motor neurone disease at Hong Kong auction
A portrait of former rugby star Doddie Weir has been auctioned for almost £100,000 at a fundraising dinner in Hong Kong, with Sir Billy Connolly among the guests.
The life-size portrait by Gerard M Burns was sold to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which raises funds for research into motor neurone disease (MND) and supports those affected by it.
Rugby stars including Gavin and Scott Hastings, George Gregan and Brian O’Driscoll were among those who attended The Greatest Rugby Dinner Ever at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The artwork will return to Scotland, where it will be hung in the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
Weir said: “It is an odd experience to be confronted by a life-sized portrait of yourself. It’s certainly very striking.
“I feel immensely honoured to learn that the painting will find a final resting place in the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh with a plaque acknowledging everyone who contributed to the painting.
“I am really very touched by this. Many thanks to Gerard and everyone who made a contribution.”
The artwork will have an accompanying plaque naming all those who made contributions during the auction of the painting, which was sold in crowd-funding style to raise as much money as possible.
So far the auction of the painting has raised £80,000 and contributions will continue to be taken until Sunday evening, with organisers expecting it to raise around £100,000 by then.
Mr Burns said painting the portrait was a nerve-wracking experience.
He said: “It is always a real stomach churner for me to see how a sitter will react when they see their own portrait.
“It has been a real privilege to work with Doddie. I am thrilled with the portrait and I sincerely hope I have done him justice. I think he liked it.
“He is an exceptional man in so many ways and I am delighted to be gift the painting to then help raise £80,000 so far, for Doddie’s charity.
“From a purely selfish point of view, it is really just such a pleasure to work with a true sporting legend.”
The dinner, attended by around 500 guests, was organised by the Scottish business community based in Hong Kong as a precursor to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens on April 5-7.
More than £300,000 was raised in total by the event.
Weir was diagnosed with MND in 2017 and went on to found the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
He began his rugby career at Melrose RFC before going on to play for Scotland, the British and Irish Lions and Newcastle Falcons.
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