SF’s annual display of huge Valentine’s hearts beats on for its 20th anniversary, and this year’s batch includes one that used to belong to Robin Williams. You can see them at the Ferry Building through February 29.

Valentine’s Day and the month of February in San Francisco always bring back a decades-long tradition — 400-pound, six-foot-wide, five-foot-tall hearts put on public display in the city. These Hearts in San Francisco are now enjoying their 20th anniversary in SF (they started in 2004, and did not even skip a beat during the pandemic). This year’s batch, currently at One Sansome, will move to the Ferry Building tomorrow, February 15, and will remain on display there until February 29.

All eight of the 400-pound giant hearts are seen in this post. And the one seen below used to belong to the legendary comic and actor Robin Williams.

Sky by Valentin Popov; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

“Robin and Marsha Williams bought it years ago, and they re-donated it back,” says Pam Baer, lifetime director at the SF General Hospital Foundation that organizes this project. “We’re re-auctioning it. Whoever buys it will have, I call it, ‘the Robin Williams heart.’ He was instrumental in supporting the General [Hospital] as both a person in need, and a person that just understood mental health as a need in our city, as public health.”

The Palace by Nimisha Doongarwal; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

These hearts remain available on auction through 11:59 p.m. tonight. The large hearts have a minimum bid of $40,000. Over these 20 years, the Hearts in SF program has raised more than $38 million for the SF General Hospital Foundation.

Fibers of Life by The Apexer; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

But why would a hospital need donations after Mark Zuckerberg paid $75 million to put his name on it? Because the Zuckerberg SF General Hospital (ZSFG) and the SF General Hospital Foundation are two separate entities. The city-run institution of the hospital, which is part of the Department of Public Health, cannot accept donations, even if some of its programs desperately need more funding.

SF’s Bounty by Shay Davis; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

“92% of the patients at ZSFG are on some sort of public assistance program. It’s a public hospital with a very tight budget,” SF General Hospital Foundation CEO Kim Meredith tells SFNews. “They get reimbursements for certain kinds of care, through Medicare or MediCal. But we also have unhoused, new immigrants, and people who are totally uninsured.”

Bae Area by Piero Spadaro; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

Some of the programs the foundation kickstarted were simply too controversial for government funding when they were launched, like the Addiction Care Team that initially had to be funded by the foundation.

Double Delight by Michael Osborne; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

“We can do things that only philanthropy can do,” Meredith explains. “We can be society’s strategic risk capital, because we are private funds giving to a public institution.”

Inside by Nathan Sawaya; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

We mentioned last month that one of the hearts is made of 88,748 LEGO bricks. It’s called Inside by artist Nathan Sawaya, whose LEGO brick art shows tour the world.

Inside by Nathan Sawaya; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

Sawaya’s works are phenomenal to behold in person, and it’s worth a trip down to the Ferry Building to see the textures and reflection effects that tens of thousands LEGOs create when a sculptor puts so many of them together in a three-dimensional piece.

Butterflight by Naomi Duben; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

And your heart will flutter at this butterfly-themed Butterflight by Los Angeles-based Naomi Duben.

Necklace in the Sky by Taiko Fujimura; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

There are also smaller Table Top Hearts, like this Bay Bridge-inspired Necklace in the Sky, seen here alongside its creator Taiko Fujimura. These run about 20 pounds, and measure 16 inches high and 17 inches wide. A few of them are still available for auction until midnight tonight.

Chinatown Mahjong by Rose Chan; Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

Same goes for what they call Mini Hearts, like Rose Chan’s five-pound, seven-inch Chinatown Mahjong. The smaller hearts are a more recent introduction into the annual Hearts in SF series.

Lovestruck in the Bay by Joelle Jammal Junk: Image by Joe Kukura, SFNews

“Here we are 20 years later, raising over $1 million a year for programs at the General,” Pam Baer tells SFNews. “It’s the heart and soul of our city.”

Image: IG: @Captum.CDXV - #SFHearts via Yelp

You may have noticed that a few of these hearts stay up year-round in Union Square, pumping joy into San Francisco even after the month of February ends.

Image: Ultima M. via Yelp

But one permanent Union Square heart is no longer there. The heart seen above as painted by none other than the late Tony Bennett himself, whose “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” sing-along lifted out hearts during pandemic shut-in times. This heart was permanently moved to the Fairmont Hotel this past November, as the Fairmont is where Bennett first premiered that iconic song in 1961.

The 2024 Hearts in San Francisco are on display at One Sansome on February 14, and will move to display at the Ferry Building from February 15-29.

Related: Meet Your 2023 'Hearts in San Francisco,' Now On Display at the Ferry Building [SFNews]

Images: Joe Kukura, SFNews