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Presidents' Club spins new record at annual auction

By Mark Walden on May 21, 2008

Music was playing at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City during the third annual Presidents’ Club Auction and Reception on May 9, but you never would have known.

James Capalino ’72 (right), partnering with William Schwartz ’72, casts the winning bid on the chair used by the Dalai Lama during his visit to campus, April 22-23.(Photo by Rob Bennett)

All that jazz was overwhelmed by sounds of excitement and anticipation made by 500 of Colgate’s closest alumni and friends. They bid a record-breaking $187,000 on tickets to games and performances, trips to islands and mountains, bottles of wine, rounds of golf, pieces of jewelry, art, and more.

The “more” included a circa 1870 pool table with Colgate ties, and the chair specially built for the Dalai Lama’s visit to Colgate for the Global Leaders Lecture Series.

The fully restored pool table had provided years of entertainment to the brothers Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. At the auction, it was purchased for $11,000 by Ed Audi ’89, who gave as well as he got during the course of the evening.

Audi’s furniture company, Stickley, Audi & Co., designed and built the mission-style chair for the Dalai Lama, and donated it to Colgate. The chair was at the center of attention for two days, as it was moved from the Sanford Field House, to the Ho Science Center, to the James C. Colgate building for the Dalai Lama’s various campus appearances.

Bidding started at $5,000, and by the time the gavel fell, the price had swelled five-fold, with Jim Capalino ’72 and William Schwartz ’72 splitting the $25,000 bill.

“It was a very moving moment,” Capalino recalled of the purchase, which was made on behalf of “those who had a chance to meet His Holiness and hear his message.” Before long, the chair will return to the university. “I want it to be a seat of enlightenment and learning, available to be sat in,” said Capalino.

While Schwartz and Capalino put together a winning bid strategy, their teamwork also symbolizes the cooperative effort that makes the auction successful.

“On behalf of the Presidents’ Club and the university,” said Presidents’ Club Chair Terry Egler ’77, P’07, P’11, “we can’t thank our members enough.”

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