A charity auction of 92 Gromit sculptures raised a staggering £2.3 MILLION for charity – but creator Nick Park was outbid on every one.
The 5ft high dogs – decorated by artists and celebrities – have been on public display around Bristol during the summer as part of the Gromit Unleashed art trail.
They were all auctioned to the highest bidder on Thursday night and organisers hoped to raise a modest £1million.
But frenzied international bidding pushed the total price raised to over £2million.
One model, called Gromit Lightyear – designed by Pixar and based on the Toy Story character – sold for an eye-watering £65,000 to an online bidder.
But Aardman Animations boss Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit, missed out on bagging a statue for himself as every one exceeded his cash ceiling of £15,000.
He said: “I did bid on a few but they kept shooting up.
“I wasn’t prepared for the first two to reach £36,000, that was something I hadn’t prepared for.”
Bargain Hunt auctioneer Tim Wonnacott chaired the evening as invited guests and online bidders raised a huge £2,357,000.
But organisers were forced to pause the sale on Thursday night as web hopefuls flooded the system to get their hands on the one-of-a-kind statues.
A total of 1,889 placed a bid online, alongside 500 special guests in the Gromit Unleashed Pavillion at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, in Bristol.
After almost three hours of tense bidding, the 92 Gromits – 81 full-size and 11 miniature models – reached the huge total, more than doubling previous estimates.
Funds raised from the sale will support Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, which is raising £3.5 million for an expansion of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
Celebrities who decorated the sculptures included Joanna Lumley, Sir Paul Smith, Cath Kidston. Sir Quentin Blake, Jools Holland, Harry Hill and Zayn Malik from One Direction.
Speaking after the auction, Nick Park said he was stunned with how much money had been raised.
He said: “I couldn’t wait to see the Pixar Gromit Lightyear go because obviously that was a top runner.
“It just kept climbing. When the first few started climbing I started tingling. It was double the target.
“It is obviously for the children’s hospital, everyone has been so generous, the people in the room, on the internet and the artists.
“Harry Hill, for example, he just said yes without knowing what the commitment was.
“It has been really, really exciting.”
One of the unsuccessful bidders was Thom Clarke, five, who saved up £11.57 from his pocket money to bid for his favourite Gromit, Blossom.
He wrote a letter to the “Gromit keepers” to say he had visited all of the statues over the summer and Blossom was his favourite.
The youngster, from from Fishponds, Bristol, said: “I have £11.57 saved up and I would like to bid my money on Blossom please.
“I hope I win.”
Top-five Gromits at auction
1) Gromit Lightyear – £65,000
2=) Newshound – £50,000
2=) Watch Out, Dog! – £50,000
4) The Secret Garden – £44,000
5=) Isambark Kingdog Bunel – £36,000
5=) Jack – £36,000