Sunday, September 11, 2005

Auctioning Off History

With the decaying Ambassador behind them, buyers hunt for bargains at Saturday's auction

I convinced Maria and Blogger Baby to join me Saturday morning at the old Ambassador Hotel, to witness the L.A. Unified School District auction off the last remaining items from the doomed building. It was Blogger Baby's first-ever auction -- and believe it or not, mine too.

The turnout was better than expected (according to the auctioneers and LAUSD, which pocketed around $80,000), as people checked out desks, chairs, tables and paintings. Some of the more popular items were large, 1970s-era Ambassador Hotel event planners (complete with groups penciled in, reserving the hotel's various ballrooms) -- as pictured above.

Still, most of the stuff was crap. The good momentos were auctioned off long ago, with only some furniture and other items -- some pretty unusual -- having survived previous housecleanings. (Some of the items auctioned on Saturday may actually be more famous for having appeared in countless film and TV projects, as the furniture populated the hotel over the last decade as it served as a popular shooting location.)

Nonetheless, this was the last chance to walk away with a piece of the historic hotel -- and people were willing to shell out wads of cash for several items, including an old Ambassador Hotel safe (which went for $6,000. Other less interesting items went for cheap. We picked up a marble-topped end table for $30, and another small table for $15. Neither were exciting buys, but the goal was to say we owned something from the Ambassador.

More images from the auction:

See, now this would be a cool thing to buy: A collection of the hotel's old room keys.

One of the more interesting items: A box of old breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, circa 1985. In other words, just four years before the hotel closed. A snapshot of why the hotel fell into hopeless disrepair: The glamour was long gone.

Banquet rooms, that way. Lobby, go up. If you're going to the coffee shop, just don't run into the banquet room-bound guests.

Old switchboard -- another semi-cool item. I overhead a woman saying she was planning to bid on it for her kids. The switchboard went for $300 -- not bad, but I hope it's not going to wind up as some kid's toy.

AND finally, a before-and-after shot. Maria and I visited the inside of the Ambassador in 2003 and took several pictures. I notice several of the lamps and side tables in the 2003 photo that wound up on the auctioning table last Saturday.

Then there's the big, huge fountain that once graced the lobby.

From 2003:

and 2005:


Blogger autumn said...

Is there any way of knowing what LAUSD did with the stuff not sold? Is there still a remote possibility of obtaining Ambassador relics???? Who would I contact? LAUSD???

6:22 PM  

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