By Paul Finn, Joseph Finn Co. Inc.
Oprah Winfrey. Not a name you usually associate with auctions. Definitely not a name you associate with industrial auctions. But this year Oprah’s Harpo Studio sold off millions of dollars of state-of-the-art equipment in a two day auction conducted by (MDNA Member Firm) Joseph Finn Co. Auctioneers.
As with any auction of this magnitude, one of the largest sales of its kind ever in Chicago, it was extremely complicated. When Winfrey took over Fred A. Niles Studio in 1988, she and her partners invested millions of dollars. Twenty-five years later, Winfrey moved her production to Hollywood, leaving behind what had grown from a 90,000 square foot stage complex to nearly a whole city block filled with equipment. It was a veritable cornucopia of broadcast equipment, including HD cameras, lenses, teleprompters, techno cranes, lights, mixers,
“The complex was nearly a whole city block. It was
a veritable cornucopia of broadcast equipment.”
microphones, and of course, receivers, headsets, and miles of cables. In an interesting decision, the auctioneers decided to have an online only sale. This made it much more manageable given that there were over three thousand lots. But this further affirms the potency of the online auction. Certainly, it must have been tempting to fill up Oprah’s former studio with live bidders. In the end, the sale did not disappoint, with over 800 registered bidders and more than 400 winning bidders. And with the global reach of the online auction, the sale was able to attract buyers not only from across the United States, but across the world, including Denmark, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, India, and as far away as Australia. The debate about whether or not to have a live auction component will continue, but there is no question this sale demonstrated the power and efficacy of the online auction. The Internet will continue to erode many traditional mediums, but we know one thing for sure – Oprah can still bring ‘em in and that’s the power of television.