By KEVIN BRADY
Young and old, thrifty and extravagant, they turned out in droves to outbid and outwit each other at the late Douglas E. Major’s estate sale. Major was a man who traveled the globe amassing luxury cars, artwork and just about one of everything else he could lay his hands on.
Bob Smith of Riverview was among more than 200 people who packed the meeting hall at Trinity Baptist Church in Sun City Center Saturday, March 10, for a chance to bid on part of Major’s estate. At least another 200 bid online. Like many, Smith turned up early to peruse the 200 most valuable items featured in day one of the auction, although it was the artwork that drew his eye.
“It seems like the man who collected this stuff had a passion for art,” said Smith, an auction regular who enjoys the atmosphere as well as hunting for a bargain. “It’s like a treasure hunt. You always find something different.”
Major built a luxury limo service in Connecticut before moving to Sun City Center in 2005. He died Nov. 1, 2017, age 68, leaving a large collection of antiques, art and coins amassed over a lifetime of traveling the globe.
“I almost had a tear in my eye; a few moments of melancholy when I saw a few items go that I knew meant something to my brother, but life goes on, and you just have to tough it out,” said Bruce Major, Douglas’ brother and estate executor who sat alone in the middle of the audience during the auction. “My brother could have given you 30 minutes on each piece (at the auction).”
Bruce Major spent seven weeks helping prepare for the auction, throwing out 7,000 pounds of newspapers and other items before the estate was ready for the auction block. “I am exhausted,” he joked Sunday night. “I have met a lot of neat people, not just the neighbors who have come and told me stories about my brother but even Vicki, the postal lady, who used to open mail for my dad.” The auction also introduced Douglas E. Major to a new audience. “People at the auction took interest in my brother and came up to me and asked about him, and that was really nice.”
Proceeds from the auction went to Bruce Major’s three children.
“We did beyond expectations said auctioneer John Harris who could not reveal the final auction tally. “People got some bargains. The silver was not as strong as we thought, but the item average was higher than we expected so it all worked out.”
“I am here for the art mostly, maybe some silver,” said Danos Dissarives, who read about the auction online. He carves a small living buying at auctions and reselling the items online. “I am retired, but this is my hobby.”
“I am probably more interested in the (smaller items),” said Scott Cooper of Sun City Center as he clutched his bid card near the front row as the auction began. “This is artwork I don’t know enough about to know whether I am paying a fair price or not.”
A self-described former “auction addict,” Cooper has attended more than 50 auctions. “It’s almost like a competition when you get into it. When I bid on something and I don’t get it, I feel like I just lost. I got to the point where I had a warehouse of stuff, so you have to be careful.”
First or 50th auction, everyone is looking for the same thing as Cooper: “I am looking for a bargain.”
Bruce Major is heading back home to Connecticut with something more valuable: peace of mind. “There was a little bit of recognition for my brother, and that gives me some solace, and I can move on.”