Walter de Groot, owner of Greenport Art & Design Emporium, bought over 20 original oil paintings by well-known Ukrainian artists at an art auction about a decade ago in England.
“I bought all these pieces,” he said. “Just the canvases, and I rolled them up and I brought them back on the plane with me because I knew I was going to open up the store here.”
When the war broke out in Ukraine in February, he knew exactly what to do with them.
“As soon as it hit the news that the Ukrainians are in trouble I thought, ‘Hey, I got all this stuff, let’s do something worthwhile with it,’ ” Mr. de Groot said.
The paintings, which were framed at Greenport Art & Design Emporium, are worth about $30,000 in total, according to Mr. de Groot, and are currently exhibited for sale.
Some of the oil paintings available include “Paris” by Elena Leus, “Autumn Birch” by Galina Kazmina and “Before the Recital” by Anatoli Shapovalov.
“100% of the funds, with no administrative fees, will go immediately to both evacuation and rescue efforts,” Mr. de Groot said.
Mr. de Groot teamed up with one of his customers, Oleg Langbort, to support Tikva Children’s Home in Odessa, Ukraine, an orphanage whose “core mission is to care for the homeless, abandoned and abused Jewish children of Odessa and neighboring regions of the former Soviet Union,” according to their website.
Mr. Langbort, who was born in Moscow, Russia, “has had a front seat to everything that’s happening” as he has family in both Russia and Ukraine.
Mr. Langbort explained that, while the charity is based in Odessa, they have been saving children from all over the former Soviet Union for over 20 years. He said since the war started, Tikva has helped to relocate about 1,000 people to areas like Moldova, Poland and Romania.
“In addition to saving a thousand lives, [Tikva] is continuing to help Ukrainian people by providing over 20 buildings, medical supplies, etc., for those who haven’t been able to leave for whatever reason,” Mr. Langbort said. “I really feel like this is the most dire, in-need part of the population; hence, I’m throwing the majority of my support specifically behind this organization,” he said.
According to Mr. Langbort, the funds from the sales of these paintings will be part of an official campaign that will be launched with other organizations from New York City, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The effort is growing to be a multi-state campaign with over 20 not-for-profit organizations and with the goal to raise millions, Mr. Langbort said.
“I would just encourage people to get involved in any way they can, whether it’s with us or anybody else,” Mr. Langbort said. “Every voice counts, every dollar matters.”
Both Mr. Langbort and Mr. de Groot emphasized a sense of urgency to support the cause.
“I really want to stress urgency because these people, they need it,” Mr. de Groot said.
To contribute or donate to Tikva Children’s Home, contact [email protected].