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Art, Furniture and Baseball Up for Bid at Synagogue Auction

A home-owner could redecorate his or her entire pad with furniture and artwork from this year's Antiques, Art and Collectibles Auction.
A four-poster bed from Martinique, a Crucian drop-leaf table, a 1930s mahogany and crabwood filing cabinet, and a five-piece bedroom set are just a few of the items up for bidding Feb. 12 at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
A few pieces are unusual, including a Venetian-style lingerie chest, and others are rare, like a baseball signed by Los Angeles Dodgers Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax. Other items include getaway trips, tickets to a New York Mets baseball game and tickets to Broadway shows.
Proceeds from the auction go toward maintaining the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas' 173-year-old synagogue. The structure, a National Historic Landmark, is open to the public and hosts 10,000 visitors each year at its downtown Charlotte Amalie location. The building has undergone significant restoration in the last several years.
"One of the things we're very proud of is the award we got for historic preservation," said Rabbi Arthur Starr, who has been with the congregation for more than three years.
"I tell people that it was the second-best move I made," Rabbi Starr said. (His first-best move? Marrying his wife of 41 years.)
In addition to maintaining the historic structure, the auction will help the congregation continue presenting community programming. The congregation presented two concerts over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend and hosted an Islamic cleric last year.
Upcoming programs include a scholar-in-residence the weekend of Feb. 24 – 26 and two cantors from the U.S. mainland who will come and sing later this spring.
The auction will feature a lot of West Indian and Caribbean furniture, according to Sean Krivatch, who has pieces from his own collection in the auction.
Auction organizer Penny Feuerzeig said that in addition to the unique, quality furniture available for bidding, the artwork is also notable. High on Feuerzeig's list are photos by Fritz Henle, including one of artist Frida Kahlo that was shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Another notable item is a January 1968 National Geographic magazine. The issue contains a very long feature on St. Thomas and St. John.
"It really opened up St. Thomas to the tourist world," Krivatch said.
For the first time this year, a number of items will also be included in a silent auction: jewelry, trips, art and collectible items valued from $75 to $1,800.
Several sale tables will also feature jewelry hand-picked by Lee Monaco, former owner of Peach Blossom, an antique jewelry store on St. Thomas. The sale tables will also feature pieces from Philip Sturm and Allison and Sean Krivatch, St. John wood turner Avelino Samuel, and glass beads from Timisa Cree of St. Thomas.
Feuerzeig said prices at the auction range from $1 at the sale table to several thousand dollars on the high-end items.
"There's something for every pocketbook," Feuerzeig said. "There's some treasure there earmarked for everyone."
More than 400 people attended the auction last year. This year, the auction was moved later in February to eliminate a scheduling conflict with the Super Bowl.
The gavel falls at noon Feb. 12 at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center and continues until around 4 p.m. The auctioneer is Bruce Wilson of St. Croix. The silent auction opens at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, and continues until 2 p.m. that Sunday. Auction previews are on Feb. 11 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon.
For those who cannot attend the previews, many of the items are viewable online at www.synagogue.typepad.com.
Proxy bidding is also available for those who cannot attend or must leave early. For information on proxy bidding, e-mail the Hebrew Congregation at hebrewcong@islands.vi or call 777-4312.

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