Not too shabby for a pack rat.
In fact, most might say, pretty fabulous.
Gil Shapiro is an urban archaeologist of international renown.
No, not old toasters and Coca Cola bottles of yore. We’re talking big stuff: two-ton statues, stunning light fixtures, wrought iron gates, gargoyles, even old luxury liner port holes.
He turned his knack for seeing beauty and value in what other people considered out-of-style relics — or even trash — into big business.
So the urban archaeologist in 1978 opened a store in SoHo. And, yep, he called it “Urban Archaeology.”
And now, four more stores, a custom replica factory, and nearly three decades later, he’s holding the yard sale to end all yard sales. And yep, it’s also called “Urban Archaeology.”
The one difference? (Well one of many differences.) He’s not rolling up a garage door and putting sticker price tags on his amazing collection. He’s holding an international auction at world-famous Guernsey’s.
And what’s on the block is an eye-popping collection that, quite honestly, most of us can’t afford (although there are some light fixtures for $300). But we can dream.
A lot of it has New York origins. Some of our favorites:
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral Iron Gates. Expected to fetch up to $90G.
- Chrysler Building Art Deco Pendant. Starting at $8G.
- An antique grand chandelier (c.1918). $60G-$80G
- A Koken hydraulic barber chair (c.1930). $3G-$4G
- Reed & Stern Train Station Clock, Troy, NY (c. 1900) $60G-80G
But we really love this Paris find:
- Place de la Concorde Cast Iron Mermen and Mermaid. Up to $150G ea.
So why now? Shapiro jokingly blames the woman who runs his lucrative custom shop, that takes the designs of yore and replicates, or revises them into lighting, bath and tile collections -- and other decorative pieces -- for current day homes and buildings. The woman? His wife, designer and business ace, Judith Stockman
“My biggest problem is my wife. I’m a hoarder and she’s a minimalist!” he laughed in an interview with Metro.
He’s also 71, and it’s time to consolidate.The lease is up in SoHo and he’s looking to combine headquarters and his Jersey City factory in one location, possibly in Long Island City in Queens. The company also recently shuttered its Bridgehampton location.
He admits he’s grown overly attached to some of hs finds.He was “playing Jesus,” he says -- “and I’m not even Catholic.”
“If someone wanted to buy the St. Pat’s gates and put them in Vegas, I’d say ‘No.’ They don’t belong there.”
“I can’t do that anymore.”
The 15-foot high gates have been with him for a quarter century.
The public preview of this weekend's auction continues through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Urban Archaeology, 143 Franklin Street in Manhattan.
An online auction starts Friday, March 27 at 10 a.m. and there will also be live sessions Friday at 1 and 6 p.m. and Saturday At 1 p.m..
Go towww.guernseys.comandwww.liveauctioneers.com for more info.