Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
You don’t need to have skin in the game to find the sport of following auction sales thrilling; though to covet something and watch what happens to its price is exhilarating and nail-biting. Look at EBay’s success.
I wanted you to know about another online auction—Charitybuzz–that I became intimately familiar with as part of a New York Women in Communications [NYWICI] Foundation committee to grow the scholarship fund. Charitybuzz is a brilliant business concept providing a seamless way to raise money for nonprofit organizations around the world from the African Rainforest Conservancy to the Zimmer Children’s Museum. The lots generally offer experiences rather than objects.
The partnership with NYWICI works well as the organization knows industry personalities–broadcast celebrities, editors in chief, CEOs of international marketing/advertising/PR agencies and cutting edge corporations for example—who generously give of their time. Wealthy bidders fly thousands of miles–and pay–to meet a star or business guru over lunch, breakfast or coffee for an hour or two or to give their son or daughter the experience of counsel from the C-Suite in their offspring’s dream industry. One of the lot headlines offers to ”Jump Start Your Career With a Summer Job at Publicis Worldwide North America.” A gift for the woman who has everything is a ticket to the Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year event. You have until May 5th to bid on the lots in the NYWICI Foundation auction.
Last year this committee made $80,000 for the scholarship fund, after Charitybuzz took its percentage. It earns every cent. The staff introduced us to some top lots; kept meticulous records from past and current auctions to save us time; informed the 100,000 high net worth bidders in its database about our auction and continues to promote it—and that’s just for starters. Our contact was Logan Holzman, auction specialist, who is smart, responsive, and incredibly quick. She’s an unmatched multitasker and has a great sense of humor. We tossed hundreds of balls at her with hard deadlines looming and she didn’t drop one.
The first auctions I ever attended were on the prairies of North Dakota where it didn’t take long for me to learn that the fellows in overalls, when overalls weren’t fashionable, were millionaire farmers. I was an apprentice to a secondhand furniture dealer who took me with him to find the pieces he’d refinish and sell. There were no TJ Maxx stores at the time. The cheapest new furniture available was badly made, ugly and overpriced. Newly married with no budget for furniture, the solid oak chairs and tables were a good option. I left behind the last of my North Dakota Farmhouse Collection—the 50 cent chair–on a move two months ago. That name for the chair was a misnomer if you add the cost of the stain, sandpaper, steel wool and sweat applied to spruce it up.
When I was an editor at Art & Antiques Magazine I went to countless auction previews and for years haunted auction house exhibits to see remarkable art and furniture destined for private hands. Along the way I’ve also bought art and antiques at my share of auctions—both silent and standard.
The first auction item I bid on and wanted so badly to own–but that got away–was a pew from an old church that looked a little like the one in the photo below. I also remember buying some amazing bargains and incredible furniture and accessories. How about you? Have you followed, participated in or attended a thrilling auction?