November 2018 Writer \/\/ Janelle Morrison\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Photography \/\/ C.J. Walker Last month, The Great American Songbook Foundation announced that it was laying the groundwork for the sale of Asherwood, the former home of Mel and Bren Simon. Mrs. Simon gifted the opulent estate, including the personal property contained within, to the Songbook Foundation. The sale proceeds will help to ensure the financial future of the Songbook Foundation, currently housed at The Palladium at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, as it pursues a permanent home for its vast collection of memorabilia, sheet music, recordings and personal items associated with the creators and performers of America\u2019s timeless popular music. Asherwood includes a fully furnished 50,000-sq. ft. main house, an 8,000-sq. ft. clubhouse, a 6,000-sq. ft. guesthouse, several other structures and two golf courses. The estate sits on a total of 107 acres and is located in west Carmel. In its day, Asherwood has entertained public figures and celebrities, such as presidents Obama and Clinton as well as Oprah Winfrey. As previously announced, a major auction of the estate\u2019s collectible antique furniture, artwork and other personal property from the main house and other structures on the site will take place Nov. 17 and 18. Preview dates are scheduled for Nov. 10, 11 and 16, and the public is invited to visit the property and see the auction items for a fee of $25. Proceeds from the previews will benefit the Songbook Foundation. Concurrently, the Songbook Foundation is seeking proposals from real estate brokers about the best way to market and sell the estate to developers or other potential buyers. Executive Director Chris Lewis said the decision to sell the estate comes after months of study and discussion by the nonprofit Foundation\u2019s staff and a 10-member committee formed by its Board of Directors. The project team has consulted with accounting and law firms, museum professionals, residential developers, golf course operators, high-end restaurateurs, parks and recreation departments and other interests in an effort to identify the best uses for the property. \u201cMrs. Simon very generously gifted Asherwood to the Songbook Foundation with no restrictions,\u201d Lewis said. \u201cWhen we began meeting with her to discuss the donation, she wanted to know more about our mission and our work. She loved what we are doing: our educational programming, our work with seniors and our plans for a museum. She also appreciated the fact that we view what we\u2019re doing as not just celebrating an era of music but preserving an important part of our cultural history because music is always a reflection of what is happening in society. There is a greater mission and purpose.\u201d Lewis explained that the only caveat to Simon\u2019s donation was that the Songbook Foundation must find a way to use Asherwood Estate to advance its mission. \u201cWe spent countless hours leading up to the decision to accept the gift,\u201d Lewis shared. \u201cBecause we knew it would be a major undertaking, and since January, we committed to figuring out what we were going to do by the end of this calendar year.\u201d Lewis added that the board and appointed oversight committee had spent hundreds of hours of research, analysis and evaluation. \u201cWe appointed an oversight committee made up of board members and some of the greatest business minds across the country,\u201d Lewis stated. \u201cAs we\u2019ve said from the beginning, there are endless possibilities, and we have vetted several dozen of those ideas with business analysis, research and data. From museum experts to experts on what it would take to run a golf course and events or retreat center, we\u2019ve heard them all, and we\u2019ve vetted them all. Our board has decided that the best way to maximize this asset is to proceed with the sale. While there are still endless possibilities, let those with that expertise explore those possibilities, and in terms of our mission, we feel like this will get us closer to achieving all of our goals, including an endowment and proceeding with a museum.\u201d To conduct the auction of Asherwood\u2019s collectible antiques, artwork and personal property, the Songbook Foundation has retained Guernsey\u2019s, a New York-based auction house that has managed sales of items associated with such figures as John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley. The unreserved auction will offer approximately 1,200 lots for sale, including hundreds of pieces of antique and custom furniture, d\u00e9cor items, works of art, imported rugs and many smaller objects, most in pristine condition, from the estate\u2019s 50,000-sq. ft. main house and other buildings. A separate section of the event will be devoted to Asherwood\u2019s library of antique books. For more than 40 years, Guernsey\u2019s, founded by Arlan Ettinger, has represented many of the nation\u2019s most prominent museums and has built a reputation for producing the most compelling auctions imaginable. Ettinger was born in the Midwest and is a graduate of the University of Illinois. As a young man, he began his career in New York City in the field of advertising. \u201cMy family had moved to New York when I was a young kid,\u201d Ettinger shared. \u201cI got a degree in marketing and went into the world of advertising. I didn\u2019t find it really satisfying, but I became intrigued by the concept of auctioning things and saw that I might be able to apply marketing to the auction process in a way that it hadn\u2019t been done before. I left advertising and started Guernsey\u2019s, and here we are 40 years later.\u201d Over the years, Guernsey\u2019s has produced many of the world\u2019s most interesting auctions and the world\u2019s largest \u2013 the contents of the ocean liner, the SS United States. \u201cIn all likelihood, there will be around 1,200 auction lots,\u201d Ettinger said. \u201cI can\u2019t overemphasize the importance of the fact that this is an unreserved auction. People will see pictures of this beautiful place and think, \u2018Gee, whatever is going to get sold will be too rich for my blood, so I\u2019m not bothering coming.\u2019 They should understand that auctions are unpredictable events, and anything goes, so you don\u2019t want to be the person that says, \u2018I didn\u2019t go to that sale.\u2019 This is never going to happen again. While it is a local event being held in Carmel, at the same time, it is a global event. It is a world-class auction. This is a big deal.\u201d The public is invited to visit the property and see the auction items during previews scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 10, 11 and 16. The auction itself will begin at 11 a.m. Nov. 17 and 12 noon Nov. 18 with global online bidding taking place at liveauctioneers.com and invaluable.com. Tickets for the previews and the auction will be $25, available through The Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 317-843-3800 or TheCenterPresents.org. More information on the auction is available at guernseys.com.