A Life's Collection Going Once, Going Twice
The accumulated collection of antiques at Tower Hill Antiques in Red Bank is being auctioned off.
Here is collecting in reverse. Items are ripped from their homes on walls, and corners, once cluttered with an assortment of gilded edges, ornate carvings, and layers of patina, are left bare.
A gaggle of yellow-card waving spectators give sideways glances of consideration, final determined glares at inanimate objects, and throw their arms up silently as an auctioneer calls out lots by the number. Room by room, the assorted collection of Raymond Bree Valerio — most of the items created well before even his birth — is lost to the highest bidder.
Valerio, the owner of Tower Hill Antiques on Broad Street, died 22 months ago, leaving behind a collection of more than 1,000 pieces, all to be sold in an absolute auction – an auction with no minimum – to settle his estate. Signed prints, hand-carved corbels, 19th century portraits, antique desks and crystal chandeliers, all of it auctioned off.
Valerio’s mother watched Tuesday, the first day of the local on-site two-day auction, which will conclude today, as a crowd of about three dozen people filtered in and out, bidding on items or simply taking in the scene. The highest end items were sold at Christie’s Auction, she said, leaving only those items with original price tags in the low hundreds to thousands of dollars behind.
One last chance to see it all before it was auctioned off.
“People would come in and say they felt like they were in a museum,” Anne Valerio, 90, said. “He had great taste, though sometimes I think he paid a little too much for his collection.”
Valerio, who was 57 when he died, worked for years at Time Warner before turning what had been a hobby – collecting antiques – into a business. He started with a shop in Fair Haven, Valerio said, before purchasing the building on the corner of Broad Street and Harding Road and converting it into Tower Hill Antiques.
In the process of converting the space into a business and an upstairs apartment, where he would live, Valerio brought his collection of antiques and steadily added to it, filling in the few empty spaces on the floors and walls with new additions along the way. Much of his collection was old enough to have outlived its first owners, second owners – multiple generations of owners. Eventually the collection outlived Valerio, too.
When the antiques are gone, the building will be next to go, Valerio said, but that’s for another time.
The auction, being held by A.J. Willner auctions, concludes today with a inspection period from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the auction, from 11 a.m. until the building is cleared.