Items from the Waldorf Astoria New York, including the famous lobby clock, go up for auction this month. What will you bid on?
Like many, I remember my first visit to the legendary Waldorf Astoria New York (part of me still wants to put the “-” in “Waldorf Astoria” though that’s apparently not done anymore).
It was 1996 and my second trip to New York City ever. I was visiting with a friend nearby and ducked into the hotel to use the restroom. At that point in my life, that was hands-down the fanciest restroom I’d ever been in, and I helped myself liberally to a stack of the ultra-thick paper towels in the ladies’ room, deeply embossed with a Waldorf logo.
Then I went back 10 years later for my first event as part of the hotel industry—many of you will remember when the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show at the time held its opening reception at the Waldorf. And of course, for many years, the NYU investment conference in June also took over the legendary hotel.
While by then the guestrooms were tired and the PTACs were loud (the rooms were a bit of a dump by then, don’t @ me), the public spaces still held glamour, even when you were there for a business conference instead of a luxury trip. Sneaking my first W-A wineglass into my purse, during drinks at the Bull and Bear, was a thrill I have no issue copping to here in public. I completed my set a couple years later during an NYU conference luncheon while Donald Trump was speaking. (I had to get something of value out of that afternoon—his speech was awful.)
Conferences at that hotel were fun. Days began with meetings at the clock, of course. And lunch—if you were lucky to have a PR person paying—often happened at St. Bart’s garden, part of the beautiful church right across the street.
The history of the hotel of course is what you thought of every time you walked in—including stories about Hollywood celebrities (yes, even Paris and Nicky Hilton allegedly being banned for life, though who knows whether that’s true), political figures or famous musicians.
Now that history is for sale, including the clock.
More than 15,000 items from the hotel are going up for auction later this month (previews are open now, via Kaminski Auctions). In addition to masses of furniture, notable items include the 1893 World’s Fair Clock and the Spirit of Achievement statue at the Park Avenue entrance.
The auction preview is fun to peek at. Right now, an upholstered headboard is going for $3,515 and a brass lamp is holding at $185. So perhaps there’s something for every collector?
As for me, I’ll be interested to see if a full set of those famous logo wineglasses comes up. And yes, to make up for my sins of stealing so many through the years, I definitely will pay this time around.
Proceeds, as a matter of fact, will benefit St. Bart’s church.
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