The Great American Songbook Foundation is laying the groundwork for the sale of Asherwood, the massive Carmel estate donated by philanthropist Bren Simon to support the foundation’s mission of music education and historic preservation, according to an Oct. 18 news release.
A key step will take place Nov. 17 and 18 with a major auction of collectible antique furniture, artwork and other personal property from the main house and other structures at the site. At the same time, the Songbook Foundation is seeking proposals from real estate brokers about the best way to market and sell the 107-acre property, which includes two golf courses, to developers or other potential buyers.
Executive Director Chris Lewis said the decision to sell the estate comes after months of study and discussion by the nonprofit foundation’s staff and a 10-member committee formed by its board of directors. The project team has consulted with accounting and law firms, museum professionals, residential developers, golf course operators, high-end restaurateurs, parks and recreation departments and other interests in an effort to identify the best uses for the property.
“We have said from the beginning that the possibilities for this site are endless, and that is still true,” Lewis stated. “For our organization, the path most consistent with our mission, and the intent of Mrs. Simon’s gift is to maximize the value of the property and leave its future uses to other businesses or organizations that specialize in those fields, provided that their plans also represent the best interests of the neighboring property owners and the broader community.”
To conduct the auction, the Songbook Foundation has retained Guernsey’s, a New York-based auction house that has managed sales of items associated with such figures as John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley. The unreserved auction will offer approximately 1,000 lots for sale, including hundreds of pieces of antique and custom furniture, décor items, works of art, imported rugs and many smaller objects, most in pristine condition, from the estate’s 50,000-square-foot main house and other buildings. A separate section of the event will be devoted to Asherwood’s library of antique books.
The public is invited to visit the property and see the auction items during previews scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 10, 11 and 16. The auction itself will begin at 11 a.m. Nov. 17 and noon Nov. 18, with global online bidding taking place at liveauctioneers.com and invaluable.com.
Tickets for the previews and the auction will be $25, available through the Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 317-843-3800 or TheCenterPresents.org. More information on the auction is available at guernseys.com
Meanwhile, the foundation is issuing a formal Request for Expressions of Interest, aimed at professional brokerages with national experience who would advise the foundation on the sale of the property, as a whole or in divided parcels, and then oversee the marketing and selling of the real estate to developers or other potential users.
The sale proceeds will help to ensure the financial future of the Songbook Foundation, currently housed at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, as it pursues a permanent home for its vast collection of memorabilia, sheet music, recordings and personal items associated with the creators and performers of America’s timeless popular music. The proposed Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum will be a state-of-the-art, international attraction comparable to major music museums elsewhere around the world. The Songbook Foundation is a Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy® Museum and is drawing on expertise from that and other organizations.