People hear “resale” or “thrift” and often think “cheap” or “junky.” Au contraire, mon ami. Sotheby’s and Christies–the well-known auction houses in New York–are, after all resale emporiums! There are often terrific bargains to be had at auctions, particularly at the regional houses, which may not be as well-attended as the mega-houses. The auction house here in St. Louis is Ivey Selkirk (http://iveyselkirk.com/) and it has both fine arts sales and “Jackson Room” sales, in which the bargains are a bit more “as is.”
I’m trying not to regret missing out on all four items I bid on at Ivey-Selkirk’s Modernism auction last weekend. If I had prevailed on all four, it would have cost me $700–but I purposely bid very low on two items, so I didn’t expect to get those.
However, I thought I had a good chance at winning the Herman Miller Aeron desk chair. The catalog estimated a sale price of $200-$250; a great bargain since they sell new for about $1,800. There were two in the auction. I left an absentee bid of $250 and spent the weekend anticipating putting it at my desk. Alas, it sold for about $450–still a bargain, but outside my price range.
I didn’t have much hope of winning the Henri Matisse Jazz portfolio art book, either. It’s listed for $499 on a used book site (JAZZ –Slipcase – Portfolio Edition); I seriously considered leaving a bid of $225, but restrained myself. I bid $75, it sold for $110. Just call it the one (of many) that got away. (Here’s a link to a very informative website about Jazz and Matisse: http://www.henri-matisse.net/cut_outs.html)
I just missed on a 3×5 wool rug for the kitchen (sold for $50, I bid $45) and a gorgeous cherry table that I definitely didn’t need (sold for about $500, I bid $350). I expected to get the rug and the table would have been a stunning bargain if I’d won it but, oh well….
Auctions are great fun to attend but I do find it more prudent to leave absentee bids. That ensures I don’t get carried away in the heat of the moment. Even though I carefully considered my finances, I still left bids that would have stressed the budget if I’d won them.
Nonetheless, as my friend Cynthia once said, “The only purchases I ever regret are the ones I didn’t make!”