76.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, March 31, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesAnnual Auction to Benefit Synagogue Draws Hundreds to UVI

Annual Auction to Benefit Synagogue Draws Hundreds to UVI

Feb. 11, 2007 — The cavernous UVI Sports and Fitness Center became a little palace Sunday, adorned with period pieces of furniture fit for a queen and paintings fit for a palace wall, topped off with a silver Porsche for the royals to tool around in.
The gymnasium was dressed up for the eighth-annual Antiques, Art and Collectibles Auction, organized by the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas.
Gone were the jerseys and basketball shoes, and the cheering was far more subdued, as about 300 anxious-but-polite bidders held up small paddles indicating their bids.
For about two hours before the bidding began, folks wandered among the sale items. Arguably the highlight of this year's auction — or at least one of the most singular collector's items on display — was a classic 1976 Porsche 914 in mint condition.
The auto was almost constantly surrounded by kibitzers exchanging car stories, as owner Sean Krivatch listened patiently. Most of the onlookers had never had the thrill of owning anything so elegant as the silver-gray road machine.
Krivatch said he has had lots of reaction to the car in the two years or so he's been driving it on the island. "People throw themselves in front of it," he said, laughing. "People love it — there's a lot of nostalgia about it. There's just a few of the originals left. It was one of the lower-priced Porsches."
One reason he decided to get rid of the car, Krivatch said, is "out of consideration for my neighbors. I can't have three cars, so one had to go." Now he and his wife, Allison, have a Mini Cooper and a Toyota FS Cruiser, and "that's enough."
Marty Greenberg has become the happy owner of the Porsche, which he picked up for $9,500. Greenberg moved to the island two years ago with his wife, Helene. Both are retired doctors.
Greenberg said he had owned a Porsche earlier — an automatic 928, a higher-end model. "Today, though, we just wanted to support the synagogue historic trust," he said.
Off to the side of the main auction area, tables were set up for items sold separately from the auction. The tables featured everything from a dainty glass perfume vial priced at $1 to woodwork by noted St. John artist Alvino Samuel, with some pieces going for $600 and more.
Samuel talked freely about his work. In between bites of lunch, he described one foot-and-a-half tall vase, beautifully sculpted with a small mouth.
"This is Norfolk Pine, just like your Christmas trees, " he said. "Its roots were growing under a man's house, so he had to cut it down."
Teri Golden headed a group of volunteers manning the tables laden with all manner of items: artifacts, jewelry, clothing, paintings, books, a Waterford crystal-handled shaving brush and shaver for $75, along with some sterling-silver soup ladles going for about $500. Golden said she hoped to clear "between $8,000 and $10,000" on the lot.
"There are wonderful people who donate," Golden said. "They save things and bring them in."
In addition to Sunday's auction, the congregation holds a spring and winter sale each year for items not appropriate for the formal auction, she said: "Items like power drills, electronic equipment, computers, baggage."
Local jeweler Timisa displayed her glass-beaded jewelry, describing herself as basically a glass worker. She taught herself her craft from books and trial and error, Timisa said. Her jewelry is fanciful, some with small stones enclosed in the beads in earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
Charity runs in the family. Timisa's sister, Shansi Miller, a noted local artist, had several oils up for auction. She donates paintings almost every year.
Former Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, an avid auction goer, was still at it Sunday. Asked about how he spends his days since he left office, he said, "I don't know; it hasn't set in yet." For the day, however, Turnbull was at home looking over pieces of West Indian furniture, many of which he has collected in the past for himself and for Government House. The pieces he is most pleased he acquired for the government, Turnbull said, are an oval table he acquired for Catherineberg, the governor's mansion, and an antique sideboard that stands in the ballroom at Government House.
Felipe Ayala, who is familiar with the pieces, says another piece the governor found at auction had "long been thought lost for many years." He said, "It is an oval table engraved with faces." Ayala praised Turnbull for "taking a basically empty room, and filling it with his passion for historical furnishings."
Auction stalwart Philip Sturm was busy doing an interview with a TV crew. Asked afterward what he liked at this year's auction, Sturm referred to the antique chairs, the handmade pieces from Barbados and the original paintings by local artists.
Then, asked if he had his heart set on anything, Sturm's eyes twinkled. He pointed behind him to two large, arresting art-deco paintings. "I've had my eye on these," he said. "I love art deco, and I don't think anyone realized the value of these. They are very subtle, the gold and the silvers."
Rabbi Arthur Starr was delighted with the gathering. Looking over the proceedings with his wife, Linda, who manned the silent-auction tables, he said, "What I love about this is that about 75 percent of the congregation is here working together. This isn't an official figure, but to get that kind of response is wonderful — it's everyone working together."
The proceeds from the auction go for upkeep of the synagogue. "We have about 10,000 visitors a year," Starr said, "and the upkeep is expensive. And we have scholarship programs, and the Martin Luther King celebration each year."
Other items for the live auction were two four-poster beds, a rare Satinwood armoire, a tilt-top table and two pie safes.
One item of interest was a dinner for eight at Trevista, the beautiful home of Susan Lugo and George Dudley, prepared and served by the Dudleys, Brunts and Feuerzeigs, and including champagne, wine and gratuities.
Yacht Haven Grande donated four meals for two at each of its four restaurants — Wikked, Fat Turtle, Grand Cru and that elegant spot on the water, Three60, scheduled to open later this year.
Bruce Wilson of St. Croix again served as the auctioneer. Brian Katz, formerly of the Old Stone Farmhouse and now executive chef of the Yacht Haven Grande restaurants, provided food. Baker Iris Horwitz distributed delectable little baskets of cookies.
Penny Feuerzeig, auction coordinator, said later, "our goal was between $40,000 and $45,000, and it’s right in that range." Sebastiano Cassinelli won the dinner for eight. "It was already bid on by Neil Prior, but Sebastiano had been away for a few minutes. When he got back, he was so disappointed he’d missed out on the bidding. So Neil agreed to let Sebastiano bid, and he won for $2,000."
As for the Porsche, Feuerzeig said, "There were not a lot of bidders. I was surprised, but I’m delighted that we had a winning bidder who bid enough that the owner was willing to sell."
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.