Bailey House Packs Auction With Record Number of Guests

For its 20th auction, Bailey House lured a record number of guests with ads, high-ticket auction items like lunch with Anderson Cooper, and hosts Tim Gunn, John Bartlett, Simon Doonan, and Jonathan Adler.

By Michael O'Connell March 6, 2008, 1:03 PM EST

M.C. Simon Doonan

Photo: Jessica Torossian for BizBash

To build attendance and revenue for its yearly auction and party, Bailey House relies on the pro bono efforts of its colorful board and sponsors, and their work to increase awareness of last Thursday night's 20th installment brought in a record 1,000 guests, ranging from New Yorkers like ABC's Bill Weir and Bill Ritter to former Project Runway contestants Daniel Vosovic and Kara Janx to philanthropic tourists. Bailey House's events and volunteer coordinator, April McKenzie-Griswold, worked on the event with help from committee co-chairs Jeffrey W. Schneider and Jeffery Provero.

Building on last year’s marketing campaign, the nonprofit added more kiosk ads and even ran a TV spot featuring hosts Jonathan Adler, John Bartlett, Simon Doonan, and Tim Gunn imploring people to attend in the weeks leading up to the auction. For the event's PR team, the strategic marketing efforts paid off, their effectiveness clear from the different types of guests in attendance. “Two women from out of town were sitting in a cab when they saw one of the ads,” said PMC Inc.’s Amy Krakow. “One of them had lost a brother to AIDS, so they bought tickets. It's a wonderful way to feel attached to the cause.”

For the packed event, set designer and Bailey House board member Stefan Beckman carved out a path through the Puck Building’s grand ballroom, leading the crowd through groups of silent-auction items, which included clothing, home decor, artwork, photography, and travel packages. In the center of the room, under vertical rods of fluorescent light, a spartan bar served tequila-based cocktails from sponsor Corzo.

In addition to the large number of auction items, guests also had a wide selection of food to sample. Taste Caterers coordinated the menu, made up of dishes from other catering companies and restaurants, including miniature tacos from Canard, risotto balls from Il Bastardo, boneless chicken bites from the Manhattan Chili Company, sorbet from Wine Cellar Sorbet, and pastries from Citarella.

The live auction started a little after 8 p.m., by which time the crowd was so large that guests filled all the chairs and stood in any available space. Simon Doonan served as M.C. when the auctioneer wasn’t busy charming higher bids from the audience. Lunch with Anderson Cooper didn’t fetch as high a price as it did last year (down from $21,000 to $4,500), but Bailey House still managed to boost its revenue to $800,000.

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