The past month, at almost every minute of every day, I had something particular on my mind. Thanks to the Nutty Nut News Network, I became aware of an auction that really tickled my fancy. Having spent much of this year going backwards to visit a childhood Idol of mine, Stan Laurel – learning about the man I never really knew much about outside from the movies – I came across a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right at the perfect time.
Never before had I thought about participating in an auction of any capacity outside of eBay. Just seeing the grand fuss that auction houses hold on tv shows like Hollywood Treasure and Auction Kings, made me anxious to even think about the possible scale of value, items sold might contain. I mean, when art goes under the hammer, Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust equals 106.5 million dollars (today, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud broke records selling at $153 million). That may be an exaggeration, but given how significant and important these personal items are, belonging to Hollywood Icons – I thought it might just be impossible to own something of that calibre.
I was in luck though, having just been given a very special gift from my grandparents for my 21st birthday. I don’t think I’ll receive anything like it ever again – it was that unique. With the chance to take an opportunity, that may never come around again, I grasped at it. With the help of my Mum and Dad, we planned out a smart budget for what amounts we would bid, on our favourite items. For an entire month, these plans flipped and flopped, right up until the night of the auction. It was especially surprising to see the behavior/s of how people were bidding in the weeks leading up to the auction… But none of that could prepare me for the frenzy that became on that hot night.
The night before the auction, before getting to sleep, I checked the listings to see how my particular items were going. I’d been staying up late as of recent to adjust my body clock for enough energy to be left for auction time, 5am that Sunday morning. One week prior in the a.m., I had been watching the Los Angeles Times’ live broadcast of that terrible LAX shooting. And on the 8th one week later, I checked out the live auction on the Hollywood Fashion lot. It just so happened that I didn’t know that the Fashion auction had begun on that morning… Thank goodness it was because for days I had been anxious as to how the online bidding system worked. So I watched the live auction for a while to get the hang of how it would work. As much as it helped seeing Mr. Dan Kruse auctioneering so clearly, it surprised me just how quickly each lot took to sell (there was no “going once, going twice, sold”… it was a slimmed-down, sped-up version of that). A little too quickly for the sake of my confidence, but it prepared and notified me of the concentration I would need to bid.
The day of the auction had arrived; November the 10th. It was difficult to work out the time difference between Hollywood PDT/PST and Sydney ‘Daylight Savings Time‘, but on that day, I had it calculated and on my mind, for the whole day. I’d be up, anticipating, watching bids and distracting myself from the time, up until 4:30am – the time for sitting down and waiting for the big event to start. 5am 10/11- 10am 11/9 embedded in my first layer of awareness. We put our high bids in just prior to GO time – we were the high bidders on two of the three items we focused on at that point in time.
Dan Kruse welcomes and introduces everyone to the historic Icons & Idols 2013: Hollywood auction at hand, and begins with Lot No.444. Here we go! I just hoped that the computer or internet didn’t crash or do anything crazy on me. The auction got off to a quick start. The very first item finished at $1000; the second item, a little under its estimate; the third, well over its estimate. Quickly, Mum and I began to doubt that we would get anything and thought we should maybe focus our money on one item instead of three. Stan’s amazing Desk, Chair and desk items were up and opened our eyes greatly. Ten’s of thousands, thousands and thousands of dollars going on these items, all one after the other. We felt like we might just be spectators from here-on. Though I did keep open tabs on my items that I was bidding on, regularly checked and still remained the high bidder on two of the three items I had my eye’s on.
What an amazing collection of items to see go up for sale like this. One after the other, one of a kind, significant pieces of history went under the hammer. It was surprising to see Stan Laurel’s suitcase reach only one thousand dollars below its $15,000 reserve!
511 was up sooner than I could say Sassafras. Stan’s ID pin from Hal Roach Studios was an absolute treasure I would have loved to have owned, but I knew it would go for a lot. I think that it was good to see so many items go for large amounts of money, because they really should. Lois Laurel-Hawes (Stan’s daughter) stated that a portion of the sales would be donated to Diabetes research, which gives every reason to bid just that bit more to contribute.
516, my very first item that I wanted to try for was up – I was still the high bidder as the Leather Envelope Case came on screen. I don’t remember every detail of what happened during that lot because of the intense circumstances my body and mind was under. As my heart steadily pounded louder and more deeply throughout the initial moment, I focused my eyes solely on the live stream text-box, waiting for that “online bidder requesting bid/floor bidder” to pop up. I believe it did and as soon as I saw it, I clicked on that big green ‘bid‘ button, to get ahead and be on top of the delay. The strain of the moment climaxed right there… Dan waiting for bids… then says “selling” and then bam, the bidding button greys out. A light ding! sounds from my speakers. I looked straight at my Mum – we couldn’t believe it. A paragraph of text just could not justify or describe faithfully how beautiful that moment was. We actually won a personal belonging of Stan Laurel’s. Something I was sure we would be outbid on. I couldn’t even remember what Dan the auctioneer had just said, immediately after selling the item (he usually would say something funny or offer congratulations after noting the bidder number and selling price). As the item after and following went away, Mum and I just took in the reality of what just happened. I actually started to feel somewhat light headed. I think all of that heart pounding right at the end of the auction thinned out all of the blood in my body! It was strangely an amazing feeling.
More incredible pieces, and thousands and thousands of dollars later, we come to my second important item to attend to. Lot No.577. As soon as it was on screen my body tensed up just like it would if you were to feel a sensation of ‘falling in your sleep’. From memory, every single item previously had bids made during the live sale, one after the other – the Admiration Cigar ‘Man in the Moon’, had none, leaving me to be the highest bidder. Very soon, I became the winner of one incredibly special and meaningful piece of history. As soon as Dan gave his classic “aaaand… selling!”, my body released all tension, head-to-toes. I flopped. Mum and I just could not believe it. How could it be. It was almost as if we were meant to have these pieces.
Very soon after, Lot No.589 was up. This was something that I had initially fallen for when I first saw the auction. Knowing that there is no way I can ever speak to, write to or meet the man himself today, the closest way I can make a connection to one of my greatest idols is actually through having contact with something he touched. Almost as if he is leaving a piece of himself behind. It sounds insane, but it means a lot to my family and I. Stan’s Diabetic Medical Alert Necklace also stood iconic to me as Lois stated that she was going to be donating a portion of the proceeds to charity – “The auction will benefit those with diabetes, as partial proceeds will go to research for a cure.” The piece itself stood as something so important and critical in Stan’s life. Having won my two items previously, I wasn’t sure if I should go on with this final piece. My gut just knew how much I would regret not bidding once more. So when Dan announced the Lot, I bid to win. Someone just put $100 over my limit, and Mum says “Do you want it…” as to say, bid now or never. I bid one last time almost subconsciously, mentally going back to a state of mind a month ago where I thought it would make me sick if I get too attached to something sentimental that I have no guarantee of owning. I thought, i’ve been so lucky, just to win not one, but two incredible items; It’s alright if another Stan Laurel fan gains this piece of history. Dan comments on how he loves this very personal necklace, and asks for final interest. The live stream video stutters, and sequentially the bidding button greys out. Ding! I won the final piece I had longed for. I just couldn’t believe it. Such shock and disbelief of what was happening.
At 8am in the morning, watching over the final Laurel and Hardy lots sell, Mum and I shared a great moment, acknowledging just how special our investments in these items are. These are items that not only represent a segment of Babe’s past – singing ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ on stage to the moon; Or Stan’s relationships with so many through his Leather Envelope Case stamped with his name; Or a record of the fact that Stan had Diabetes for a large portion, 16 years, of his life. They, just three personal items, represent Stan’s life and work – an incredible one. And to think, these pieces are coming directly, from Stan Laurel, to his daughter Lois Laurel-Hawes, straight to my family; Just think how special that is. It blows my mind!
This stands to be one of the most stressful, most rewarding and most rare experiences I have ever been lucky enough to have experienced, in my life so far. Thank you Stan. Thank you Babe. Thank you Lois. Thank you Juliens.
Update: Just after saving this finalized draft, I discovered that my Mum’s Dad, my Grandpa, has just been diagnosed with Diabetes. This news fits so personally to the history of what this auction now represents, thanks to Lois – Diabetes Awareness.