83.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 24, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesSynagogue Auction Nets $50,000 - $60,000

Synagogue Auction Nets $50,000 – $60,000

Feb. 8, 2008 — Antilles School's MCM Center was a sea of color and treasure Sunday as the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas turned the cavernous gymnasium into a veritable museum for its 10th annual Antiques, Art and Collectibles Auction.
For the second year in a row, raindrops fell with monsoon-like energy that did nothing to deter the folks gathered for a bargain at the sale tables for a unique blue-haired Buddha or the (almost) priceless West Indian furniture, or just to compare notes with old friends.
The West Indian antique furniture pieces are always outstanding, but this is a banner year, according to connoisseurs. This is the best in the Caribbean, said internationally recognized designer Twila Wilson of St. Croix. Like any knowledgeable bargainer, she wouldn't let on what she had her eye on.
Nor would historian Felipe Ayala, who was kibitzing with another familiar auction enthusiast, former Gov. Charles Turnbull, who claimed he had to run off before the bidding started. Ayala praised an arrangement occupying a corner of the gymnasium: a mahogany four-poster bed from Trinidad, circa 1840-1850, fronted by an elegant mahogany, caned chaise lounge from Barbados in the same time period, and a rare mahogany chest of drawers, with inlaid work and turned feet. Altogether a bedroom set that likely could set you back more than the cost of the bedroom — perhaps $18,000.
The items were all from the collection of Philip Sturm, who is as familiar with Louis the 15th or Louis 16th antique reproduction pieces as most folks would be with their living room couch. Sturm scours the Caribbean each year for his finds, but he has help.
"I have 'pickers' who direct me," he said.
Ayala pointed out that the furniture is an investment, and a far better one these days than stock shares. This thought must have been echoed by the bidders.
The auction took in an estimated $100,00 gross, out of which between $50,000 and $60,000 will benefit the historic St. Thomas synagogue after expenses, said Penny Feuerzeig, auction organizer. Going in she was a bit apprehensive because of the extremely poor economy.
"We have all these really beautiful items, but they're no good if people don't buy," she said.
Overall, Feurezeig said she was pleased with the day, which brought in about 400 people.
Auctioneer Brian Wilson of St. Croix brought the gavel down at noon sharp, and kept the bidding lively.
The silent auction blossomed this year — 127 items compared to last year's modest 70. Items sold included art, gift certificates for restaurants, massages, vintage jewelry, wines and champagnes, as well as self-help notions such as a home teeth-whitening system and a session in mantra meditation. If those don't appeal to you, how about a $1,000 retainer for legal fees, just in case?
Not everyone was there to take home an new treasure. Realtor and sailor John Foster and his wife, Claire, chatted with old friends.
"Buying something?" Foster said. "Absolutely not. In fact, I would've liked to have had the auction at our house. No, nothing more."
Folks had a couple hours before the bidding to examine the sale tables filled with wonderful bargains, featuring work by original artisans jeweler Timisa Miller and woodworker Avelino Samuel.
The entire auction is organized by volunteers who work most of the year getting the show on the road. Ella Ogden has headed the troop for the past 10 years, and she's about to retire.
"Not really retire," she said. "I just don't want to head it anymore. It's time for some young folks."
Indeed, the petite Ogden is part and parcel of the auction, observing everything with a mother's care. They have about 80 volunteers who work all year long, doing everything from taking in the items, cleaning them, shining the silver, polishing the furniture, setting up, pricing and schlepping things here and there.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.