Hollywood actor Matt Damon has provided a parting gift to Ireland after he signed an Irish artist's portrait of him to raise funds for a suicide prevention charity.
Shane Gillen's signed Matt Damon portrait has already raised more than €9,000 ($10,000) for Pieta House - an Irish charity that helps people in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm.
Gillen set up a GoFundMe and anyone who donates €20 or more will be automatically entered into a raffle to win the portrait, with the winner to be selected on June 19.
During this pandemic, I’ve been drawing portraits of people that were symbolic of the pandemic in Ireland. Two weeks ago, I drew Matt Damon. Matt SIGNED THE DRAWING for me and we are raffling it for @PietaHouse - entries are €20, and here’s a link: https://t.co/STQxx2PfUw pic.twitter.com/oTTXc9Wg78— Shane (@ItsGillen) May 28, 2020
In a YouTube video, Gillen discussed how he came up with the idea for his Matt Damon portrait: "When I was coming up with who to draw next, I was trying to think of what Irish figurehead I should draw and I thought 'who in Ireland is more Irish right now than Matt Damon stuck out in Dalkey in lockdown and he's the most famous person in the country.'"
Gillen explained that he managed to bring the drawing to Damon's attention through an unlikely connection with the actor's personal trainer, Matt Baiamonte.
Baiamonte arranged for Hollywood superstar to sign the portrait and Gillen headed out to Dalkey on a "secret little trip to Dalkey" to get the drawing signed.
The signed portrait has already gone viral and has raised almost double the GoFundMe's target in less than 24 hours.
Gillen has been drawing a number of Irish personalities as part of a series that has been dubbed the 'pandemic portraits.'
His recent portrait of President Michael D. Higgins prompted Higgins to send Gillen a letter:
It says,May 17, 2020
Use your talent and skills to bring light and joy...”
- Michael D.Higgins