After having donated art consistently in previous years and not receiving an invitation to do so this year, I anticipated the Laguna College of Art and Design’s Collector’s Choice event with trepidation. That increased when I was invited to attend at a cost of $350 per ticket. Contrary to 25 years of tradition, this year’s event A Cause That’s Lost Its Way was not held on campus but at the Montage resort due to increasing attendance.
Another change was that this year’s art donations had to go through a jury. Some of my artist colleagues were dismayed that their well-meaning donations were “rejected”, verbatim.
Nonetheless, I decided to attend to honor the school from which my two daughters both graduated.
Arriving at the Montage, guests were greeted by a pair of charming LCAD students who directed the arrivals towards the reception tables where we were given bid cards and programs. As wines were poured into oversize crystal glasses, the social lubrication for the bidders flowed unabashedly, although, if you preferred a mixed drink such as a gin-and-tonic, you were charged $26!
Bidding for the silent auction was also very high-tech. Eager assistants offered instructions on how to use our smart-phones to bid via a clever app, making the process seemingly straightforward.
I had my sights on two lovely paintings. Bidding was to end at 8 p.m.
Two of my tablemates bid on three paintings and promptly at 8 p.m. received their winning status for one of them. But then the room was informed that bidding had been extended by another 15 minutes. What had been “won” now could be re-bid. At 8:15 p.m. the bidding process was again extended by another 15 minutes. This charade continued two more times, driving prices even higher and causing bidders to drop out as some expressed frustration over this overt opportunism.
The evening’s ceremony continued with kudos given to LCAD president Jonathan Burke for his 35 years of service to the school. To the cheers of many, Richard McDonald’s son presented Burke with “Blind Faith,” a sculpture created by his father. Burke accepted the gift with humility and charm.
Then, the live auction commenced with the rapid-fire style of the professional auctioneer. Another copy of “Blind Faith” met with fast and furious bidding culminating at $6,500. Then, to everyone’s surprise, another copy was produced. The two highest bidders then each received a copy of “Blind Faith” at the “discounted” price of $5,500. Whether this was a bold commercial scheme or a conciliatory gesture toward two bidders hoping for a unique purchase is open to conjecture.
After leaving a donation for the scholarship fund, I departed not feeling warmed but dismayed at being cleverly manipulated. It is unlikely that I will participate in Collector’s Choice again.
Ludo Leideritz, Rancho Santa Margarita