Justin Trudeau's APEC chair fetches $60K at UNICEF charity auction

A designer chair used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an international state dinner fetched almost $60,000 in a charity fundraiser — the highest bid among six world leaders.

Canada's prime minister draws top bid in designer furniture fundraiser for UNICEF

The chairs used by six leaders at this year's APEC state dinner in Manila were auctioned off for a UNICEF fundraiser. The chair of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fetched the highest amount, picking up $60,000 for the child welfare charity. (Daphne Oseña Paez/Facebook)

A designer chair used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an international state dinner fetched almost $60,000 in a charity fundraiser — the highest bid among six world leaders.

The auction sold off chairs created specially for the heads of state attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) welcome dinner in Manila on Nov. 18.

Up for bidding along with Trudeau's seat were chairs used by U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Philippines' President Benigno Aquino.  

The Auction for Action event was held Wednesday and hosted by UNICEF advocate for children Daphne Osena Paez, who told CBC News that Trudeau's seat garnered the top bid, just slightly higher than Obama's at around $60,000.

Trudeau waves as he arrives for a welcome dinner at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Manila on Nov. 18. (Edgar Su/Associated Press)

In all, the auction raised $257,600. Here's a breakdown of the bids:

  • Justin Trudeau $59,941.
  • Barack Obama $58,479.
  • Benigno Aquino $45,321.
  • Enrique Pena Nieto $43,859.
  • Lee Hsien Loong $29,240.
  • Shinzo Abe $20,760.

The chairs are the work of Filipino industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue. According to his website, the Yoda chair "taps the natural tension of the rattan vine, resembling tall blades of grass growing from the seat on a summer's day. Its rattan display offers comfort concealed in randomness reminiscent of nature's surprises."

The regular retail chair normally sells for about $1,200, but the APEC version is bigger and features armrests and a swivel mechanism. Each chair also has a metal plaque with the name of the leader who used it.

Social media buzz

The starting bid price for each chair in the UNICEF auction was $2,200.

Osena Paez, a Canadian living in Manila, said Trudeau got a "rock star" reception from Filipinos during the APEC welcome dinner. That night, Cobonpue phoned to ask if she wanted the Obama chair.

She told CBC she replied: "Yes! Let's raise funds for UNICEF. But please also give me Justin Trudeau's chair." 

Last month's APEC summit drew leaders from among the world's most powerful countries to discuss international trade, development and the global economy. 

But it also sparked buzz on social media about which country's leader was more attractive — Canada's Trudeau or Mexico's Pena Nieto. It even led to the hashtag #APEChottie that spread around the world on Twitter. 

Young admirers also swarmed Trudeau as he left a media conference at the summit, snapping photos on smartphones.


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