Gurney's Inn
July 04, 2007

Kiss & Tell

Secrets Of The Silent Auction

As I walked into the Love Heals benefit at Luna Farm in Sagaponack, I saw whole herds of beautifully dressed women steering to the bar for champagne or outside to find Donny Deutsch (who couldn't have been more gracious to his blonde admirers). I, however, had other plans and told my sister to follow me.

Love Heals raises money for the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education and aside from ticket sales, they also receive the proceeds from a silent auction which is a fashionista's dream thanks to efforts of supporters like co-founder Stefani Greenfield who is an owner of Scoop. So not only can you get a fabulous purse, jewelry, makeup set, or designer jeans for less, it's tax deductible. Over a few years of observing silent auctions at benefits I've learned a thing or two and told my sister I'd coach her through the process.

Start by perusing the items when you first walk in and there are no crowds. It's important to read the fine print, namely be sure to note if something is a particular size. I did utter a little gleeful sound when I saw that the gorgeous Missoni platform shoes were exactly my size, 8.5, but the bidding was already beyond my range. I admired the mini dresses but thought they would be much better suited to the colt-like girls whose legs came up to the top of my cosmopolitan.

Take in the full spectrum because along with specific fashion items you can also bid on W Hotel stays or Bungalow 8 VIP club passes or live musicians who will play at your party. My sister and I, well actually it was just me, made notes of the items I was interested in. "OK," I said, "Now it's time for champagne and Donny Deutsch."

Over the course of the evening we would check back periodically. Even in the name of charity there can be foul play. At past events I had seen one man surreptitiously slide the golf foursome bidding sheet under his jacket only to have it miraculously appear at the end of the night and more than one determined A-type personality socialite cross out her predecessors bid. However it was a woman with CIA worthy skills who nonchalantly placed her glass of champagne on the sheet with condensation just enough to blur the name and number of the woman who outbid her. I showed my sister my Sharpie I brought along to thwart just such plans. Of course you can just honor the process and tack on another 50 dollars to the last bid and hope the other girl who was ready to bid higher spilled red wine on her dress and had to leave early (I swear I did not bump into her on purpose).

As the evening was winding down, I told my sister it was time to make the next move. If some items have not had a bid, they may reduce the amount for an opening bid. However you have to be aware of the over-exuberance of alcohol where all the irresistible bargain items become like a litter of cute kittens and you decide to take them all home. I restrained myself and only put in two bids. By waiting until the real end of the party, however, to monitor my bids, I did forget the other golden rule of benefits: collect your goodie bag early because if you wait until the very end they may run out.

Well, we did miss out on the goodie bags but the good news is that we won the Poker Prima Divas for 10 and once we learn how to make a bundle at cards we can outbid anyone we want next year.

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