The Symphony Exploratory Committee, a group of local business and civic leaders who want to revive the Honolulu Symphony, placed the winning — and only — bid of $210,000 at an auction yesterday to buy the assets of the 110-year-old orchestra.
The auction at the Waikiki Resort Hotel lasted just minutes after it was determined that no other bulk buyer would bid. Several people were online hoping to bid on individual lots, but they were shut out by the committee’s bulk bid.
"The gavel falls," said auctioneer Ross Dove as if describing a conductor bringing down the baton.
"It’s a huge day for us," said Ken Robbins, a trial attorney and member of the Symphony Exploratory Committee. Noting yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day observance, he added, "Today we all have a bit of the luck of the Irish in this, and we feel that that’s going to propel us in the rebuilding of a very, very important cultural asset in this community."
The committee’s bid was $210,000, plus a $25,000 fee that will be paid to auctioneer Heritage Global Partners. The sale is subject to bankruptcy court approval, which has set a March 30 hearing on the matter.
The Honolulu Symphony declared bankruptcy in late 2009 and converted the case to liquidation in December. Musicians and music lovers feared that the sale of the items to an offshore buyer would not only hinder the return of the symphony, but also amount to a tremendous cultural loss.
The assets include about 70 instruments, a library of more than 2,700 classical and local symphonic works, mementos and miscellaneous equipment.
Robbins said committee members put up their own money for the bid. The committee includes OHA trustee Oswald Stender, former Hawaii first lady Vicky Cayetano and business people Paul Kosasa, Mark Polivka, Mona Abadir, Mitch D’Olier, Gabe Lee and Barron Guss.
Musicians’ representative Jonathan Parrish called the sale "a big step in the right direction."