By KEVIN BRADY
You will never meet Douglas E. Major, but you will have a chance to get to know him this month at a two-day auction when everything from artwork to sterling silver that Major collected over a lifetime of globe-trotting travel goes on sale to the highest bidder in Sun City Center.
A lifelong bachelor with no children, Major died Nov. 1, age 68, leaving a collection of cars, antiques, artwork and coins so vast the auction needed to be staged at a church hall and his home March 10 and 11.
“They have already taken out 7,000 pounds of stuff like newspapers and other things, and it’s still packed,” said auctioneer John Harris. “We plan to extract the more valuable items like the Rolls (Royce), the art (Major had more than 100 framed pictures) and the sterling silver and have those at the first auction.” Day two will see smaller items like coin collections, books, furniture, grandfather clocks auctioned off at Major’s Sun City Center home on Cloister Drive. “For the size of this home, this is an incredible (collection),” Harris said. “There are probably 2,000 items.”
Harris would not speculate on the estate’s value although several bay-area art dealers have offered — unsuccessfully — to buy some of the artwork, which features limited-edition lithographs signed by Salvador Dali and Marc Chagall.
“My brother was married to the world,” said Bruce Major, Douglas’ brother and estate executor who traveled from Connecticut for the sale. “He had friends in every corner of the globe, and that is why he had a pretty wide and bizarre collection of things.”
Proceeds from the auction will benefit Bruce’s three children as per his late brother’s will. “I have already gone through the house and picked out things for them, and each thing reflects a different perspective of Douglas’ life,” Bruce said. “Money is money, but memories are memories.”
Those memories included old photos of Bruce and his oldest brother with “Uncle Ed,” Edgar Eisenhower, the brother of the late president, Dwight Eisenhower. “Uncle Ed was my father’s best friend.”
Douglas moved to Sun City Center in 2005 to care for his ailing father after building a highly successful limousine service over a quarter century in Connecticut.
“He had a steel-trap mind,” said Bruce, the youngest of four children. Douglas was the oldest. “He could read a 700-page book and quote from it the next day.” But always, more than anything, was his love of travel. “It was always like an adventure hearing his stories and seeing the things he had to share,” Bruce said.
Tracking down his brother wasn’t always easy. “I once needed his signature for a power of attorney and I found him in the middle of Australia at Ayer’s Rock,” Bruce recalled. “There was only one hotel and one fax machine.”
Held in an “absolute” auction format, the estate will accept the highest bid offered for each item, although anyone hoping their $500 bid for the Rolls Royce won’t be topped might not want to hold their breath. Rolls aside, perhaps there will be bargains, Harris said. “Everything must be sold regardless of the price (tag) in an absolute auction.”
Watching his brother’s estate end up in the hands of strangers will not bother Bruce.
“These things are going to new families and will have a new life, and that is a good thing. I have pulled out what I wanted for my family, and now people will get something they will cherish.”
An auction preview is set for noon to 5 p.m. Friday, March 9, in the Fellowship Hall at Trinity Baptist Church, 702 Del Webb Blvd. W., Sun City Center. The auction begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 10, at Trinity Baptist. “We will have 200 of the high-value items there,” Harris said. The reminder of the estate goes on the block at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 11, at Douglas’ home, 1504 Cloister Drive, about a mile from the church.
A 10 percent buyer’s premium applies to all successful bids, meaning a winning bid of $100 for a chair will cost $110.