broadsideblog

All Your Stuff Sold Without Your Consent? Ouch!

In business on March 24, 2010 at 8:30 am
ray and my stuff, storage locker, dufferin

Image by PinkMoose via Flickr

It’s rare I identify completely with a celebrity who’s made the top of the Post’s Page Six, but this item did it for me:

Anthony Haden-Guest — the legendary British journalist and bon vivant who inspired the cynical Peter Fallow character in Tom Wolfe‘s “The Bonfire of the Vanities” — has been cleaned out.

The writer is distraught over the loss of a lifetime’s worth of valuables he put into storage when he moved back to London a couple of years ago.

In January, when he returned to New York, Haden-Guest learned that Public Storage, an international chain with facilities in Long Island City, Queens, had sold everything he owned to a single buyer. “Papers, books, art, furniture, clothes, 30 years of everything,” he told Page Six.

His art collection of more than 100 works — including pieces by David Salle, Ashley Bickerton and Donald Baechler — was said to be worth more than $1 million.

“I owed them $1,350 dollars. A couple of months before, my lawyer had asked them to give me details so I could wire them monthly payments. They refused. I called them to say I would settle when I got back to New York,” said Haden-Guest, the son of an English baron and the brother-in-law of Jamie Lee Curtis.

This happened to me, and to a close friend in Manhattan — where only the wealthiest (or most ascetic) don’t have a few storage lockers thanks to tight living quarters — a few years ago. I used to get monthly statements which, of course, I paid on time. They stopped coming….I got a notice giving me…days?…to deal with it, or maybe telling me they sold my stuff. I was so in shock I still don’t remember it.

I know, I know….How important can your things really be if they are in storage for years? Very, actually. We don’t all live in 4,000 square foot houses with tons and tons and tons of room to keep your stuff close at hand. I live and work in a shared one-bedroom apartment. We have several lockers, a few small ones and one very large one: it’s filled with out of season clothing, negatives and photos dating back decades for my partner, a professional photographer, sports gear, suitcases, furniture (sigh) we haven’t been able to sell or agree to donate, books, papers.

But also…artwork by my Dad, the Kevlar vest my sweetie wore while on assignment for six weeks in Bosnia, childhood artifacts.

We’re spending all day Saturday going through it — my goal to get rid of at least half so we can put it into a smaller space and pay half as much.

They sell your stuff before you can get to it and take the %#@!@#$## hours you need to sort through it all thoughtfully?

Yeah, that hurts.

  1. Pay your bills. Why would you place art work worth upwards of 1 million dollars in storage? Fishy.

  2. Greg, I agree. But, seriously, this stuff can happen. It happened to me — when I stopped getting the bills it slipped (no excuse, I know) my mind and my stuff was gone before I knew it.

    But you’ve got to be pretty wealthy to keep $1m worth of artwork in a facility and not wonder how it’s doing.

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