On occasion I like to divert from my normal blog and reflect upon the crazy things that occurred during a benefit auction. That’s why the subtitle for this blog – and perhaps lesson – falls under the category, “Expect the Unexpected.”
On two occasions I had the opportunity to share the stage with actress Sharon Stone. She is one tough lady – knows exactly what she wants – and proceeds with a fiery passion. But during a major benefit auction in Fort Myers, Florida a few years back she did something I had never seen before from a Celebrity Co-Auctioneer.
During the course of the auction I received a slip of paper which basically stated an attendee would like to bid on Sharon’s shoes if she’d be willing to put them up. After a little coaxing she did – and the shoes brought in about $6,000.
Soon after, another slip of paper arrived. This time the attendees wanted to bid on Sharon’s purse. She agreed and the purse sold for around $8,000.
Just when I thought Ms. Stone had run out of personal items to auction off a third note arrived – and you guessed it – they were inquiring about the dress she was wearing. To my surprise Sharon agreed to auction it off and the dress sold for around $12,000.
Immediate following Sharon quipped, “I am going to leave here this evening barefoot and wearing a tablecloth.”
As Sharon’s assistant began the task of finding a replacement dress a fast-thinking guest wrote the words “Sharon Stone” on a white tablecloth and handed it up on stage for her to wear as comic relief.
Well, Sharon didn’t hesitate one bit. As I held up one end of the tablecloth and a volunteer held the other end – to hide the “I-can’t-believe-what’s-about-to-happen” moment – Sharon took off the dress. She then swung it over the top of the “tablecloth wall” – like a scene from the opening credits from the TV show Petticoat Junction. Of course, the crowd went wild.
We then wrapped Sharon in the tablecloth and I gave her my jacket to wear and hold everything in place as the dress was presented to the very happy winning bidder. The auction proceeded with Sharon still on stage – wearing a tablecloth and formal jacket.
Eventually her assistant arrived with a new dress and Sharon departed briefly to make herself “attire whole” once again.
This true “Expect the Unexpected” story is one of the most treasured memories I have in my nearly 20 years as a professional benefit auctioneer. Not only because we raised a record amount of money that night. But, because I got to hold a tablecloth’s end.