“Do I hear $10? … How about $20? … $100? … $1,000?”
The price kept soaring to heights never before witnessed at a Paint and Destroy art show.
Hands shot up all over the room, flailing about, desperately trying to get auctioneer Chris Teicheira’s attention.
People shouted bids, turning the Tuscan room at Delicato Family Vineyards into a scene from “Storage Wars.”
The prize: A custom hand-painted skateboard by renowned artist Fabio Napoleoni held high in the air by an assistant with a surfer-boy haircut.
The board featured a leafless tree with Napoleoni’s trademark heart – washed in a purplish-pink hue to honor Breast Cancer Awareness month – positioned on one of the branches.
“That board was amazing. Pictures cannot do it justice,” Alvarado said. “As soon as (Teicheira) said $10, every hand went up. This guy screamed and that guy screamed. There must have been 50 or 60 people bidding on that board at one time.
“Once it got up to about $900, there were only three left.”
Then it got serious.
The bidding war continued until Richard Salemi of Manteca emerged the winner … $2,000 later.
“When it hit $1,000, we’d never gone that high at all. I was blown away – and hands were still going up,” Alvarado said.
It was that kind of night last Friday at the fifth annual Paint and Destroy art show, which pulled in more than $6,000 for Boarding for Breast Cancer. Though the final number hasn’t been tabulated, Alvarado, the driving force behind this annual event and the Northern California ambassador for Boarding for Breast Cancer, says it’s easily the most the fundraiser has generated in its five years.
In all, 80 skateboards were auctioned. Each one was well-traveled – one board was shipped from as far away as Germany – and each arrived with a custom design.
More than 140 people filled the banquet room that evening, with several more following the proceedings via the telephone or computer. Alvarado said bids were cast by phone call and message, as well as by posts on apps and social media websites.
“It was a good night,” he added.
Napoleoni’s artwork served as the highlight. The board was donated under one condition: That the Maine artist’s name not be used in the show’s marketing campaigns, print, digital or otherwise.
Alvarado obliged, but news was leaked on private Facebook groups and three guests arrived to bid solely on Napoleoni’s gem.
They were matched bid for bid by Salemi, who reached deep into his pockets to secure the evening’s most popular item.
Salemi has been a fan of Napoleoni’s work for some time – he now owns seven of his pieces – and he met the artist at a Lake Tahoe gallery last month.
The tree, Salemi said, is a common object in most of Napoleoni’s work. As is the heart, which serves as a tribute to a daughter born with heart complications.
“When that came up, I was in a tunnel … I had tunnel vision,” said Salemi, who recruited Napoleoni’s talent for the project. “I didn’t know what was going on; I just knew I was in an intense bidding war.”
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Helping a local family
For the first time, a portion of the proceeds will be funneled back into the community. For the first time, friends of Boarding for Breast Cancer were able to put a face on their pledge.
On Friday, Alvarado introduced Esther Muniz, a cancer survivor.
“We talked about bringing more that money into our community – Manteca,” Alvarado said. “We go to Lake Tahoe and raise a bunch of money and it goes to foundation up there. We got to Los Angeles and it goes into a center there. This year, we’re making a donation to a local family.”
The Muniz family could use the support. Esther Muniz’s battle left her with a mountain of medical debt among other hardships.
“In the whole fight against cancer, she had bills to pay, mouths to feed and there’s a shortage of just about everything else,” Alvarado said. “We wanted to donate a portion to her.”
The rest of the money will travel with Alvarado to Southern California on Friday, where the Boarding for Breast Cancer’s executive officers will disperse its amongst its many foundations.
There, Alvarado will continue his personal campaign against breast cancer. Alvarado will board from the Santa Monica Pier to the Redondo Beach as part of “Skate the Coast.”
Salemi saluted his longtime friend.
“If I was in a gallery and I saw that board and they were asking the same price I paid, I wouldn’t have got it,” Salemi said.
“Where the money goes, though, and what Frank does, it just brings out the best in everybody.”