The America's Cup finally concluded last week. Its years of unmet promise and cynical exploitation of the city were temporarily obscured by a thrilling on-the-water conclusion and a historic comeback for Oracle Team USA. San Francisco, if only for a fleeting moment, was hosting a world-class sporting pageant.
Now, the more pressing matter for Cup organizers is: Are you gonna buy that L-shaped sectional or not?
One day after the regatta's champagne-splattered conclusion, it was back to the less bubbly business of making money (or at least losing less). In what insiders term “a cleanup sale,” Cup organizers launched a sweeping online auction of the fixtures and furnishings formerly gracing the public land San Francisco and its Port ever so generously handed over for the duration of the event.
David Barkoff, the director of sales for auction service firm Heritage Global Partners, says that future sales may be more nautically themed. Rather than couches or barstools, he may be able to offer buoys or machine tools. “You may have boats,” he hints.
For this first round of sales, however, buyers were forced to satiate their desires with boat-shaped arcana. Take “Lot # 23,” which consisted of “15+ Directional Boat Signs.” These man-size replicas of an AC72 yacht were formerly deployed to direct visitors to the Nespresso Cafe or Media Center; if you've got one of those in your home, the signs would have been a wise investment.
They would certainly pair well with an anvil-shaped, black desk emblazoned with the “AMERICA'S CUP” logo. Provided you have a space for a 10-foot-by-2-foot desk.
If so, perhaps you also would have enjoyed picking up the following: olive trees, artificial grass, aluminum barriers, picnic tables, security badge scanners, light fixtures, bean bags, photographs of yachts, a ping-pong table, murals of yachts, floating advertising rafts, a KayakPro SUP Ergometer stand-up paddleboard, a remote-control boat pool, and, finally, a yachtload of teak furniture.
Unlike Cup organizers, who commissioned a report claiming billions in economic benefits, Barkoff demurs when asked how much money was expected from the Cup cleanup. “It's a moving target,” was the best he will offer. That's a phrase the city's own bean-counters are all too familiar with in regards to this event.
And yet, if you were in the market for a boat pool or yacht paraphernalia — or the refrigerators and desks and seats that comprise the bulk of the swag — Barkoff is willing to go out on a limb and say you'd do far better at an auction than buying new.
America's Cup critics continue to complain the city was suckered. But the only true suckers pay retail.