In his typically caustic manner, chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain once said that “anybody who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me.”
Based on the beer and sausage alone, he might have said the same of New Braunfels; add in floating the Comal, Wurstfest, the architecture, hardcore oompah music, Gruene Hall and institutions such as Naegelin’s Bakery and the Alpine Haus restaurant, and it’s a solid cinch the city would have received the green light from Bourdain.
Bourdain is at the center of a phenomenon occurring right now in the city on the Guadalupe River. Lark Mason & Associates is currently presenting “Property from the Collection of Anthony Bourdain,” an exhibition and online auction of a few of the late chef’s favorite things.
Bidding on the 202 items has been brisk since the “Property From the Collection of Anthony Bourdain” auction went live online on Oct. 9.
And the online auction of Bourdain’s personal property — from clothing to artwork to furniture to manuscripts and books — is having a positive impact on New Braunfels, a city official said.
“It’s great exposure for New Braunfels,” said Judy Young, vice-president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is giving us exposure on the national and international stage as a diverse city and tourist destination. It shows that we’re not your typical little berg, that we host world-class events in New Braunfels. And chefs at restaurants such as Huisache Grill, McAdoo’s, Myron’s and Muck & Fuss were inspired from watching Tony.”
Media coverage of the auction has been lively and energetic around the world, with stories appearing in such major outlets as the New York Times, CBS news, Food & Wine, The Daily Beast, CNN and MarthaStewart.com.
The one-of-a-kind online auction — bids are being accepted at igavelauctions.com through Oct. 30 — features a wide variety of objects that were close to Bourdain’s heart, including his teak flip top desk (35 bids, $4,600); an artist’s proof print titled “Rats in the Kitchen” by Welsh artist Ralph Steadman (44 bids, $12,000); a Rolex gold watch (21 bids, $3,700); a custom-made chopping knife (29 bids, $21,000); and the chrome duck press from the Paris episode of “The Layover” (28 bids, $8,250).
“I am partial to the knife that is part of the collection,” said Laurie Woolever, Bourdain’s assistant and co-author for more than a decade. “It’s a custom knife made by Bob Kramer, a master bladesmith in Washington state. The blade was forged from meteorite and carbon steel. There are 800 layers of hand-hammered steel that are folded over each other to create a blade that is extremely sharp and durable — and that is a dream to cut with. I had a chance to use it a few years ago at Tony’s house. I just picked it up and sliced a peach. It was the closest thing to a religious experience that I’ve had in quite a while.”
The Bourdain auction is an opportunity for fans to see a more private side of Bourdain — and own something that meant a lot to him, she said.
“He was very generous,” Woolever said, “obviously a fascinating person with a million stories to tell. He was more gentle and kind and sweet and even a little awkward than one might guess from watching him on television. Although he was also deeply cool.”
The auction objects have an estimated overall value of $200,000 to $400,000, said Lark Mason, the CEO of iGavel Auctions, who was an Asian art expert at Sotheby’s for more than 25 years and is noted for his regular appearances on the PBS series “The Antiques Road Show.”
A significant portion of the auction proceeds will benefit the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at his alma mater, The Culinary Institute of America.
“A lot of people knew about Tony as a chef, but what many don’t realize are the other areas of interest that he had, which are wide-ranging,” Mason said. “Tony was fascinated by people and cultures and places and objects. And he had a great sense of style. So we’re very pleased to be able to share this exhibition with the people of New Braunfels.”