At a charity event I attended on Monday night I bid on and ended up winning a pair of tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. If you’ve ever seen The Boss perform live you know he puts on an amazing show and you can commend me, therefore, on money well spent. The pair of VIP tickets come with access to the “E Street Lounge” before the show (I’m not exactly sure what that really means, but it sounds cool) and drinks with members of the E Street Band afterwards. Pretty awesome, huh? The trick — and the treat — is that the Bruce is going on a European tour so my choice of concert locations includes London, Paris, and Rome. Or Rio when he goes to South America this fall. Ah, decisions, decisions.
I love a good charity auction. By participating, I get to help raise money for a good cause by either a.) driving up the bidding or b.) actually writing a check and taking home a prize or two. Over the years I’ve learned — the hard way — that the more alcohol one consumes during such events directly correlates to the likelihood of spending money one doesn’t have on things one doesn’t need. Years ago I had one too many cocktails at a breast cancer fundraiser and almost bought the yellow suit that Stockard Channing wore in the final scene of Six Degrees of Separation. Thankfully I was outbid at the last minute. I have no idea what I would have done with that bit of movie memorabilia had I triumphed. I mean, she’s not even my size.. :-) All I know is that it seemed like a really good idea at the time.
Sometimes winning an auction item has meant that I got to enjoy an experience I might have done anyway (a getaway weekend in Florida, for instance) or procure an item that made a great gift (a t-shirt signed by Rafael Nadal for my friend Jules’ birthday.) The charity gets the cash, I get a little vacation or trinket, and everyone wins. Other times, it has lead to an adventure I might not have sought out on my own (Calabria, Italy) or a keepsake I didn’t realize I must have. I don’t know that I really needed two signed black & white photos of Muhammad Ali, for example, but I’ve got ‘em. The first of which was the result of heated bidding war between me and Sam Waterston.
These auctions that I’ve participated in aren’t exactly of the high stakes variety that take place at famous auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but they aren’t without their own level of excitement, either. And they got me thinking about some of the iconic auction scenes in the popular culture. On TV comedies, auction scenes typically involve an auctioneer misinterpreting someone’s nose scratch or hand wave as a bid, thereby declaring “SOLD” to someone who had no intentions of bidding let alone buying. In some of my favorite movies, auctions have played small but pivotal roles. For instance…
North by Northwest: Cary Grant walks into an in-progress auction and confronts Eva Marie Saint. The witty dialog, chic 1959 wardrobe, and signature Hitchcock direction are just delicious.
Octopussy: Roger Moore as James Bond and a Faberge Egg. ‘Nuff said.
Sex and the City: At the auction of a jewelry collection from a recently divorced socialite, Samantha has her eye on a cocktail ring but it gets outbid by some mysterious bidder-by-phone. It turns out to have been Smith, who wanted to get it for her as a gift. A breakup ensues.
A Very Brady Sequel: Unbeknownst to them, the horse statue that famously sat upon the credenza in the Brady’s groovy ’70s home turns out to be a valued at $20 million. Carol donates it to a local auction. Rosie O’Donnell and Zsa Zsa Gabor make cameos.
There are plenty more movie auctions scenes than the ones I’ve cited here, but these were the first to have popped into my head. Place your bid by letting us know your favorite.
Sex and the City
A Very Brady Sequel