After the last of the Donald Kaufman auction sessions had concluded, we asked Don’s wife Sally if she would mind sharing memories of her late husband and observations of the five semiannual sales that concluded in April of this year. With her typical grace and honesty, she provided a wealth of information about Don and revealed how they both felt about the most celebrated toy-auction series of our time.
These are Sally’s recollections:
“Donald never collected his toys with the thought that this type of celebration would ever occur. One has to realize that until a few years before the first of the auctions, he didn’t even really know how many toys he had. To him, it was like building a family, and there were families within a bigger family. He was always building and always the student. That’s why he had so much knowledge. It was never his goal to be the center of attention, but when he walked into the auction house that first day and saw his name above the entrance and how beautifully the toys were displayed, he was thrilled.”
“Donald always wanted the toys to go back to the collectors. He always said he was just the caretaker of the toys for a period of time. When the decision was made to send the toys to auction, he more or less ‘let go.’ After that point, he was anxious for the auctions to take place because he wanted to see other people enjoy the toys.”
“He was adamant that there should not be any reserves on the toys. He said to me, ‘I’m not going to play that game. Whatever the hammer says, that’s what it’s going to be. The collectors will decide the price.’ He wanted everyone to know that the collection had not been picked. Before the first sale began, when he stood at the podium and spoke, he said, ‘I did not sell anything privately or make any private deals, and I did not keep anything for myself. Everybody here has an opportunity.”