This oil painting of monarch butterflies and milkweed by former President Jimmy Carter sold at auction for $525,000. Photo courtesy of the Carter Center

This painting by Jimmy Carter just sold for $525,000

An auction last week raised more than $2.7 million for the Carter Center -- with the highest bid of over half a million dollars going for a painting done by former President Jimmy Carter.

An unidentified bidder paid $525,000 for the oil painting, “Monarchs and Milkweed,” during the silent and live auction that took place during the annual Carter Center Weekend held June 21 - 25 near Lake Tahoe, California.

All proceeds from the auction -- which also netted an additional $1,050,000 in restricted donations for the Center’s trachoma program -- will go to the Carter Center’s peacekeeping,  disease fighting and other efforts in poor and underserved countries around the world.

 “Rosalynn and I are delighted by the results of this year’s Carter Center Weekend,” Carter, 92, said. “It means so much to us to spend time with our supporters and to know that their generosity makes it possible for The Carter Center to continue working to strengthen democracy, resolve conflicts, and fight disease.”

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Other top draws among the more than 150 items in this year’s auction were: “Imagine Peace,” a silk screen that was signed by the artist Yoko Ono, which sold for $145,000; a framed and autographed photo of five first ladies, including Rosalynn Carter ($130,000); a mahogany four-poster bed designed by President Carter and created by master furniture maker Andrew Reid ($80,000); a guitar autographed by music superstar Paul Simon ($60,000), and wine and memorabilia from Skywalker Ranch Vineyards ($50,000).

Paula Deen reacts to a comment from painting instructor James Richards Saturday morning in Plains as Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter listen. The morning class was part of “Painting, Paula and a President,” a daylong event in Plains that brought together the TV chef and the former president for a unique fundraiser. Photo by Jill Vejnoska

This wasn’t the first time Carter’s interest in painting has been used for a good cause. Last year, he joined forces with his friend, celebrity chef Paula Deen, to host a weekend entitled, “Painting, Paula and a President” in his hometown of Plains. The centerpiece of the weekend, which raised money for a pair of nonprofit organizations in Plains, was a painting class which 50 people paid $500 apiece to attend along with Deen and Carter.

The auction catalogue and winning bids can be viewed online at

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