NEW YORK — An auction is offering buyers the chance to own a piece of New York nostalgia. Gifts given to New York City mayors through the years are being offered for sale to the highest bidder.
In a series of online auctions titled “Gifts to the City,” New York is giving buyers the opportunity to take home items — ranging from jewelry and sports memorabilia to a paperweight and cake slicer — from the city’s municipal archives.
The items are sorted according to the mayor to whom they were gifted. Among the items for sale from Ed Koch’s tenure is a signed original painting by Peter Max, depicting the Statue of Liberty. The art includes a handwritten inscription to Mayor Koch on the back. The original offer for the painting was $50, but the bidding had reached $15,200 by Nov. 23. Bidding for the item closes Dec. 11.
David Dinkins served as the 106th Mayor of New York from 1990-1993. The items from his tenure for sale include a paperweight gifted to Dinkins by Diana Ross and a T-shirt and hat that read: “Racism is an illness. Are you sick?”
The commissioner of the NYC’s Department of Records, Pauline Toole, told WNBC that this auction is the first of its kind in 37 years.
The most unusual item for sale may be a Louis Vuitton soccer ball, which was given to Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1998 to commemorate the World Cup. Initially posted for $600, the bidding on the ball reached $1,575 on Nov. 23. Bidding for the item closes on Dec. 11.
Giuliani was also gifted a basketball signed by the members of the New York Knicks in 1999, which is available for bids until Dec. 4.
Michael Bloomberg is the most recent mayor whose gifts appear in the auction, having served three terms from 2002-2013. Among the items offered from Bloomberg’s tenure are a silver Tiffany cake slicer and a pair of Nike Air Force 1 sneakers autographed by Ice-T and Fab 5 Freddy in 2008.
When asked about the sneakers by The New York Times, Bloomberg responded, “So that’s what happened to those sneakers.”
Mayors are not allowed to take the gifts with them when they leave City Hall, because the gifts are considered to be property of New York City, The New York Times explained. The Department of Records and Information Services is responsible for the more than 185,000 cubic feet of items that have accumulated for the last 400 years.
The auction is taking place entirely online, with the lowest prices starting at $20. The money raised will help fund the preservation of more valuable items that are not up for sale, including old blueprints or the 1957 home plate from Ebbetts Field, WNBC reported.
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