What is a young collector? This is the question the Huffington Post confronted when a press release came our way a few weeks ago, for something called Young Collectors Night. Preliminary research told us that on a scheduled night every year, an army of young people stream into the Park Avenue Armory, a vast, castle-shaped building in Manhattan where snooty Gilded Age families used to hang, to look at high priced items that have changed hands between rich people through the ages — Turkish rugs, fountains from the 1800s, dishware — and perhaps buy one item or a couple. Who were these liquid twenty and thirtysomethings? Would any of them actually drop $1.2 million on a Wendell Castle desk and chair, the priciest item on the block?
We decided to check it out. After all, there was more at stake than the expansion of collections. All money made from the evening’s ticket sales (at $175 each) would go to East Side House Settlement, a charity that offers classes for underserved kids and adults. The charity, just two subway stops from the Armory’s Upper East Side digs, is a world away, in the South Bronx. The more young collectors in existence, the more cash funneled to people who cannot afford to collect.
Would any of those who stood to benefit — residents of the poorest Congressional district in the nation — actually be at the event? We posed the question to Emily Israel Pluhar, one of the evening’s co-chairs, and an East Side House Settlement board member.
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