Every now and then you hear of socialites and celebrities supporting a cause because they truly believe in it. Though it’s rare and hard to come by, it does happen. And when it does, these celebs tell their friends. Then those friends tell their friends. To the point it has spread like wildfire and has establishing a support system so monumental that everyone follows suit.
Today, auctioneer Alexander Gilkes, Haute Living, Paddle8 and Dr. Lee Gause will host an art fundraiser of epic proportions all for the benefit of charitable dentistry. Selling works by Chi Modu, Takashi Murakami, Angelo Romano, Robert Peterson and UR New York, it’s not the run of the mill “art show.” It’s a well curated event filled with pieces that will continue to appreciate in value.
With special guests like famed rapper and producer Swizz Beatz garnering massive attention for the organization through Twitter and Instagram, when approached with an opportunity to interview Dr. Lee Gause, I knew it was a no-brainer. (P.S. Swizz is an avid art aficionado housing one of the largest private Basquiat collections.)
Last week, after getting a tour of his gallery styled office, we delved deeper into the real question…why?
Your office doesn’t resemble other dental practices.
I wanted the office to speak to what the dentistry looks like. I wanted a lot of technology – clean, simple, conservative, but I wanted it to pop.
Tell me why you choose to give back. Many people do it, and you never see where it goes to. You do it and you see the difference in your patients smile.
Well, we were doing a small amount of charity the whole time. A patient would ask to do something for a group and we would open up one Saturday for them, but it’s a great thing to do. Truthfully you’ve never met somebody who is as lucky as I am in respect to my practice. If you look at the family of patients that I have, the dentistry I’m able to do, I have to give some of that back.
So how did Smile Design Gallery start?
Smile Design Gallery started because we opened up for the kids from Camden and they literally showed up with a whole school bus full of kids. So we brought the kids in and provided all the dentist services they needed. That one day in particular was very expensive for me, so wanted to figure out a way we could sustain it. Accidentally, a leak occurred in the gallery below us that houses $90 million worth of art. At the time only one piece was hanging, and when they sold it we started selling art to fund our charitable dentistry project.
What are some of the major accomplishments since your start?
We took care of an entire school in Haiti. It wasn’t actually me doing the dentistry, it was me facilitating it. It is more meaningful to have these kids treated by Haitian doctors, so the doctor they look up to looks like them and speaks their language. Not some American that doesn’t even speak Creole, comes there for one day, snaps a lot of pictures and goes home.
We then wanted take care of an American school, Urban Promise, so in about three months we’ll be done with helping 100 kids at that school.
How do you choose your art pieces? Is it contemporary, renaissance, street?
The art is always linked to the people we provide care for. So Angelo Romano for example – 80 years old, Spanish origin. We use his works to provide care for a group of seniors in uptown NYC. Takashi Murakami, very relevant in fashion. He designed for Louis Vuitton and Kanye West. We used his pieces to finance the care of the kids from the High School of Fashion Industries.
You have really big names attending. Who are some of your clientele?
I have a lot of cool clients from sports, a number of Ford models, people from LVMH, Danny Green. Floyd Mayweather is my patient. He makes a lot of noise, but Floyd is a really, really nice guy and a very smart guy. People judge Floyd by some of the things that he’s done, but if you look at the business deals that he’s made, it’s crazy.