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First City Sponsored eBay Charity Auction
A painted sewer manhole cover from a Chicago that will be up for bidding on eBay sits in a storage room at the Cultural Center. Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.- The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs will present The Great Chicago Fire Sale, the first charitable eBay auction organized by a municipality, Thursday, December 2- Thursday, December 16. Auction items will include Chicago related objects, one-of-a-kind experiences and special services. Proceeds from this unique event will benefit the Chicago Cultural Center, Gallery 37, Cultural Grants and the Clarke House Museum.

"The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs has a legacy of creative programming in the arts, from public art exhibitions like Cows on Parade to job training for young artists at Gallery 37. However in today's economy, it also takes creativity to finance those projects," explained Commissioner Lois Weisberg. “Because government funds are limited, we rely on private sector generosity to help support our programs. This innovative fundraiser will allow us to expand and continue our legacy of cultural programming and offer even more to the people of Chicago."

Some items that have been donated include an architectural drawing of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion signed by Frank Gehry; an original 1960s Playboy Bunny costume; a dinner party prepared by Art Smith, personal chef to Oprah Winfrey; a 2 night stay in the Presidential Suite at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower; a cow from the acclaimed “Cows On Parade” public art exhibition; a opportunity to dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day; and much more. A preview of all items, along with detailed descriptions, is available on

"I have been involved in many charity auctions, but this one is truly unique and historic,” said auctioneer Leslie Hindman of Leslie Hindman, Inc., who serves as the project chairwoman. “It not only signals a whole new fundraising approach for City-sponsored programs, but showcases Chicago to a national online audience."

In order to make The Great Chicago Fire Sale a success, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs is seeking objects, experiences or services that are unique to Chicago to be donated for the auction. Auction items requested from the public include, but are not limited to, antiques; pieces of art; furniture; historic memorabilia; jewelry; services; unique experiences; and concert, sporting event, or theater tickets. Donations are requested to have an estimated value of $100 or greater. Upholstered furniture and perishable goods will not be accepted. Donations will be received by the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation (a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation) and contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Items not sold during the auction will be donated to the Brown Elephant Resale benefiting the Howard Brown Health Center, a center that specializes in HIV/AIDS medicine and research.

The first items will be listed on eBay beginning on Thursday, December 2, and new items will be listed daily through Thursday, December 16. Prospective buyers must register on eBay ( to place a bid and registration is free. Items will be shipped to the buyer as soon as payment is made. Experiences, travel, hotel stays, etc., will occur during 2005 at a time that is agreeable to the donor and the high bidder. All sales are final.

Proceeds from The Great Chicago Fire Sale will benefit the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation, which presents more than 1,000 free fine arts programs to the public each year; Gallery 37, which has provided job training in the arts for more than 40,000 Chicago youths to date; and Cultural Grants, which awards funding to hundreds of Chicago artists and arts organizations each year in every Chicago community. In addition, all sales from the For the Birds exhibition will benefit the Clarke House Museum---Chicago’s oldest house.

The Great Chicago Fire Sale is chaired by renowned auctioneer Leslie Hindman, and organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. The project director is Joan Greene. The Great Chicago Fire Sale is managed on eBay by Auctions For Everybody, an eBay trade associates group. Sponsorship is provided by the Baker Robbins and Company, Channel Advisor, The Graphics Group, ANET, House Of Blues, Chicago Hilton Hotels and Midway Moving and Storage, Inc. Television journalist Burt Wolf conceived the idea for a City sponsored eBay charity auction that would involve individuals from Chicago and beyond to raise funds for the arts.

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