Dusty TVs, empty mini-bars, used bed sheets, and credenzas that may or may not have been touched by Brad Pitt were up for grabs last Thursday at a 30,000-item auction at Yorkville’s Four Seasons hotel, which will soon become condos.
About 150 potential buyers showed up to the second-floor ballroom promptly at 9 a.m. for the first of three days of bidding. But the auction was off to an inauspicious start—a truck rollover on the 401 stranded a courier with the lot books, delaying the kick-off by an hour. So auctioneer Alan Loeser took questions.
There were a lot, including: “If the screen says armchair but there’s a picture of a bed, what am I buying?” (An armchair). “If I end up buying a sconce, how do I get it off the wall?” (Bring an electrician.) Loeser explained that everything is being sold “as is, where is,” with the buyer responsible for removing it from the hotel, because tagging 30,000 items was a “horrendous job” in itself—removing them as well would be too much.
First up was an antique writing desk. It went to bidder number 2144 for $175. Later on, a man scored 169 TV sets at just two dollars each. Another bidder almost committed to 50 marble tables at $10 each when he stretched his arms too high. And so it went.
Friday’s auction got off to an even worse start when a tech mishap led to a scrambling of lot numbers and images. By 10:30 a.m., the bidding hadn’t started, and people began shouting, “Who cares! Let’s start!” So they did—and, sure enough, a woman ended up buying a side table when she thought she’d purchased a telephone stand.
“Five years from now, I will not have forgotten how these 15 lots were screwed up,” said auctioneer Pat Mulligan, as he attempted to sort them out. “When I’m dying, I still won’t forget. Maybe when I have some Jameson’s later on, then I’ll forget temporarily.”