Matsuri Restaurant and Hiro Ballroom give people a chance to own a piece of New York City history

For those who have enjoyed delicious steak and seafood dishes at Matsuri, or late night dancing in the Hiro Ballroom, there’s sad news. These two popular New York venues in the Maritime Hotel, which have hosted guests like Mick Jagger, Nicole Kidman and Karl Lagerfeld, are set to close their doors for good. Luckily, the owners have decided to give people the chance to take home a piece of the Big Apple’s hospitality history.

A live auction, as well as several previews, will be facilitated by Michael Amodeo & Co. Participants will have the chance to bid on items such as flatware, original artwork, walnut flooring, and giant handmade Japanese lanterns. Even the men’s urinals, which were also handmade in Japan, are being auctioned off. The event dates are as follows:

  • Monday, April 2, 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. Preview
  • Tuesday, April 3, 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. Preview
  • Wednesday, April 4, 12:00 p.m.- 2:00 p.m. Preview
  • Wednesday, April 4, 2:00 p.m.- all items sold. Auction

While smaller items can be purchased and brought home the day of the auction, larger items must be brought home by Thursday, April 5. The Maritime Hotel is located at 363 West 16th Street, off 9th Avenue.

Sotheby’s: the museum where you can buy the art

Have you ever looked at a work of art hanging on a museum wall and thought, “That would look great in my living room”? Well, at one of the best “museums” in London you really can take it home with you.

Sotheby’s is London’s oldest auction house, and has been a London institution since 1744. They sell everything from fine art to vintage wine to antique furniture. While most items are beyond the means of the average visitor, the galleries and auctions are open to the public. There are branches in London, Paris, New York, and Hong Kong.

When I lived in London I visited the Sotheby’s galleries regularly. They host constantly changing exhibits of art and antiques. Since the items mostly end up in private hands, this is your only chance to see them. I was a bit worried the first time I went in that I’d be given some cold English upper-class attitude. It was painfully obvious I wasn’t there to buy anything. Surprisingly, I was treated with respect, which is more than I can say about a certain antique shop I visited in Islington.

On one visit a few years ago there was going to be a major auction of Russian art–some medieval icons and a lot of Neorealism. As usual the items that would be going under the gavel were put on display. As I wandered around admiring the art, I found the crowd to be equally interesting. Hordes of Russians in Armani suits were on their cell phones calling buyers in Moscow, describing art and getting instructions on maximum bids. Watching all these rich Russians and their multimillionaire bosses I realized just how much the world had changed in the past twenty years.

So check out Sotheby’s. It’s not only a lesson in art, it’s a lesson in sociology.

[Photo courtesy Claus Hoppe]

Off & Away goes international

Off & Away the recently launched luxury travel auction site is offering up its first international destination. On June 7, 2010, the site will send a stay at La Amada in Cancun under the virtual gavel. Other upcoming auctions include the Andaz in New York (June 9, 2010), Turtle Bay in Hawaii (June 9, 2010) and the Alexis in Seattle (June 10, 2010).

The greatest concentration of luxury deals on Off & Away so far appears to be in New York, so if you’re looking to take a trip out here, putting in a bid might not be a bad idea.

NY is being auctioned off right now. Only 1 hour left. Did you know that we’ve had auctions go for as little as $20? than a minute ago via HootSuite

Strangely, Off & Away rewards valiant losing efforts. According to the rules:

  • If you’re outbid, apply up to 110% of your used bids towards another room
  • Select from any of our 50,000 partner hotels at the Web’s best published rates

Royal Caribbean brings hammer down on art auctions

If you liked the art auctions on your Royal Caribbean cruises, brace yourself. In a post on his blog, the company’s president and CEO, Adam Goldstein, wrote that the contract it had with Park West Art Services to run its auctions on the ships expired and that it isn’t going to renew.

He adds that other art-related endeavors could be on the chopping block as well: “We are evaluating what if any art-related programming we may offer in the fleet in the future beyond Oasis of the Seas where Art Actually is our provider of art tours and art for purchase onboard.”

For now, Royal Caribbean and Park West Art Services are going through a “wind down period” as the art auctioneers wrap up on different ships over the next few months.

Own a piece of Paris: Eiffel Tower stairs, other artifacts up for auction

Want to own a piece of Paris? You’ll have a chance when historic pieces of the City of Lights go up for grabs on December 14. At the “Paris Mon Amour” (Paris My Love) sale, 18th century tourists maps, antique street benches, and a public phone box from the 1950’s will be sold at auction along with street lamps from the Champs Elysees and a staircase from the Eiffel Tower.

The 40-step section of stairs from the Paris landmark is is just one piece of the original staircase and is expected to fetch €60,000 to €80,000. The Tower’s steps were removed during a renovation in 1983, cut into 24 parts, and sold to collectors around the world. Since then, they’ve been on the auction block only a few times, most recently in 2007 and 2008. The company that manages the Eiffel Tower oversees each auction and apparently, they don’t want pieces of the Tower changing hands too often.

I couldn’t find much information on how to get in on the auction action. But chances are, if you’ve got the cash to drop on stairs from the Eiffel Tower, you’ve also got connections that can get you in.

The auction is part of the celebration of Paris’ 120-year anniversary, which took place this year. Other events scheduled throughout the year included special fireworks displays and exhibits of photos that chronicled the history of the structure.