This newspaper column usually has “the point” at the end. This week, I’m going to open with “the point.”
Some people have too much money.
Recently, I took part in something I’m guessing not many Manitobans (or Canadians) did: I attended the estate sale/auction of Betty White’s belongings in Beverly Hills.
I’d been in West Hollywood for much of the month because, as an entertainment reporter, the end of a TV season and start of the new TV season has me covering different shows and it’s easier to stay here than go back and forth non-stop for three weeks. (I did that in 2010 and 2011 and it’s exhausting.)
So, we have office space where our syndicated radio shows are produced and it’s around the corner and down the street from the auction house in BevHills where the sale was happening.
If you’re wondering why I’d go, there’s an interesting answer. In 2012, I broadcast from the red carpet of Betty’s 90th birthday in Hollywood and attended the party NBC threw for her. I met her and other TV and film legends who were on the radio with me for our live show.
TIDBIT: Knowing that Betty loved animals and had a golden retriever (as do I) I had a framed picture of mine wearing a party hat with the words, “Happy 90th Betty” put in her dressing room before the shindig.
When I got the press release about the auction — while I happened to be in town… and down the street — how could I pass up the invite?
Being the Winnipeg cheapskate that I am, it seemed reckless, almost dangerous, and certainly out of character, for me to go to an auction with $3,000 cash, but I did. Thinking I’d be “making it rain” and buying anything and everything I could, the cheapskate-ness of my personality kicked in real quick.
I couldn’t bring myself to spend $1,200 on a coffee mug simply because it had B-E-T-T-Y (yes, just five letters) printed on it. I couldn’t. It wasn’t going to happen. Never – gonna – happen.
Before the auction, someone asked me if I’d ever been to one before. I hadn’t. He said it’s competitive and you get caught up in the moment to outbid people. Rest assured, I didn’t get caught up.
I bid on some items like furniture and artwork, though those went for, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars. When her director’s chair from The Golden Girls sold for over $75,000, I thought to myself, “What the hell is going on here?”
The front door from her house sold for $10,000. Random dog figurines, knickknacks, plastic trinkets — similar to ones in your grandma’s house – were selling for over a thousand bucks. It was ridiculous.
In a strange twist: After I was outbid on 20-some items, I got an email about one of them. The auction house said the winner “accidentally bid” and that I could have the item if I wanted it for my winning bid amount, which was $100 less. In true cheapskate style, I replied saying I would take it for $100 less than my bid — meaning $200 less than it actually sold for. (Which was much less than a coffee mug, I should point out. I didn’t pay over a thousand bucks.) They agreed and I scored a massive framed 90th birthday certificate from the Los Angeles mayor. Seeing as I was there for the 90th, it’s a piece of Betty’s life that was meant to be in my house.
After the three-day sale, the auction house sent another press release, this time saying it pulled in over $4 million, when the expectation was $400,000.
Fine, I’ll repeat “the point”: Some people have too much money. (I wonder if these people are complaining about the price of groceries, too.)