Motown artifacts up for grabs as Berry Gordy's Detroit mansion is sold

From old magazines to a grand piano once owned by the Motown founder, items can be purchased at auction and estate sale

The doors to Berry Gordy's former Detroit mansion will swing open this week to fans and collectors eager to get hold of some Motown history.

Dozens of items will be auctioned and hundreds more sold in an estate sale at the lavish home in Detroit's Boston-Edison neighborhood, where guests such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross once graced the halls. It was Gordy's primary residence in the late '60s and a regular destination for him on trips back home from L.A. in the decades that followed.

Attorney Cynthia Reaves, who grew up across the street and bought the house from the Motown founder in 2002, has now sold the property and is clearing out items and furnishings inside — many of them around since Gordy's early days there.

They range from copies of Billboard magazine bearing "Motown Record Corp." mailing labels — $25 for a pair — to a 19th-Century painting by German artist Adolf Schreyer, with an estimated value of up to $30,000.

 

 

motown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 1Buy Photo

A globe once belonging to Berry Gordy will be up for auction at his former home in the Boston Edison neighborhood of Detroit. It is photographed on Oct. 11, 2017. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)

Also up for auction is Gordy's Steinway grand piano — played by Smokey Robinson and other famous guests through the years — with a starting bid of $7,500.

The auction will take place at 7 p.m. Friday in the mansion's adjacent athletic house, overseen by Aaron Siepierski of Aaron's Estate Sales in Birmingham. Prospective buyers are advised to register first at the company's website, where pre-bidding has already begun, and in-person attendance will be capped once the space is full.

Bids will also be taken online and by phone Friday evening in what's being described as a "live global auction." The full array of auction items can be viewed at LiveAuctioneers.com.

motown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 2Buy Photo We know this flashy mansion best as the long-time home of Berry Gordy and the site of Motown's famous celebrations, but it's always had an illustrious life.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 3Buy Photo Before its walls rocked with the talent, the parties and the big personalities of Motown Records, the Michelson Mansion was one of the fine palaces built by Michigan's early lumbermen.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 4Buy Photo The amazing interior wood carving attests to this, alongside elaborate ceilings, carved Italian marble, stained glass windows, some in bronze frames.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 5Buy Photo Marble staircase with delicate curves and decorative iron, grace the main entrance.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 6Buy Photo The ceilings are another work of art, each one different. The foyer's is the most complex - elaborate carved and painted plaster.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 7Buy Photo And this has been a lucky house. Over 100 years, it has had just five owners, and every one had enough money to nurture it.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 8Buy Photo The latest is Cynthia Reaves, a national expert in nonprofit tax law who bought it from Gordy in 2002. She won him over with a long letter that stated her desire to preserve the mansion as part of Detroit's legacy.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 9Buy Photo The living room's walls are all deep-carved black walnut.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 10Buy Photo Italianate marble on the living room fireplace mantle.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 11Buy Photo Italianate marble on the living room fireplace mantle.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 12Buy Photo Berry Gordy, who'd turned down all previous requests, accepted hers. He even gave Reaves a house-warming gift: his own baby grand Steinway piano. It sits in the living room and evokes thoughts of all the famous fingers that must have played those keys.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 13Buy Photo Since 2002, Reaves has upgraded systems and restored the lavish interior until the word "showplace" is too pale.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 14Buy Photo Last year, she briefly put the home up for sale, then withdrew it. Now, it's listed again at $1,595,000.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 15Buy Photo The library's walls are quarter-sawn oak.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 16Buy Photo The library has a limestone fireplace.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 17Buy Photo Library panels show several patterns, including the curvy linen-fold style. Some panels hide doors with book shelves behind.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 18Buy Photo Intricately carved wood doors make a statement going into the dining room.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 19Buy Photo Formal dining room with leaded stained glass windows encased in brass frames.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 20Buy Photo Lumber baron Nels Michelson built this house in 1917. He wanted to expand into the house-building business, so he became his own first client.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 21Buy Photo Born in Denmark, he included many Danish references in the carving and painting.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 22Buy Photo The chefs' kitchen. Gordy also invested here. HIs biggest change was blending the separate kitchen and butler's pantry into one big Mutschler-brand kitchen.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 23Buy Photo Gordy also invested here. HIs biggest change was blending the separate kitchen and butler's pantry into one big Mutschler-brand kitchen.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 24Buy Photo In 2008, Michigan honored Reaves' restoration with a Governor's Award for Historic Preservation. She said she'll be choosy about who gets the house next.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 25Buy Photo "I feel responsible to the city of Detroit and to the former owners to sell to someone who's able to take care of it as I have," she said  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 26Buy Photo "The former owners all were self-made millionaires. They worked with their hands to make something. I feel that's part of the legacy."  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 27Buy Photo Baths: 5 full, 4 half   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 28Buy Photo It has the much-pictured pool house, reportedly the place where the Jackson 5 auditioned for Gordy and Diana Ross clashed with Florence Ballard.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 29Buy Photo It's now called the athletic house and has one big party room, two bowling lanes and billiards.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 30Buy Photo There are two bowling lanes in the lower level of the pool house.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 31Buy Photo Billiards room in the lower level of the pool house.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 32Buy Photo The ceilings are another work of art, each one different.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 33Buy Photo The house has all its original doorknobs, hinges and hardware from P.E. Guerin, the high-end New York foundry founded in 1857. Guerin sent a representative who confirmed they were authentic antiques.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 34Buy Photo A portion of the dining room door.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 35Buy Photo A tile in the bathroom.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 36Buy Photo Original Wedgwood Chandelier.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 37Buy Photo Original Wedgwood Wall sconce.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 38Buy Photo The house has all its original doorknobs, hinges and hardware from P.E. Guerin, the high-end New York foundry founded in 1857.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 39Buy Photo "It's so rare to see a house so intact," said Realtor Deborah Smith, who often works in the Boston Edison neighborhood. "One of the beauties of the Motown Mansion is that it"s always been owned by people who were very successful."  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 40Buy Photo The Michelson-Motown mansion sits on 2.2 acres and has a five-car garage with a three-bedroom carriage house.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 41Buy Photo Square feet: About 10,500 in the main house, plus 3,500 in the finished lower level, 4,000 in the pool house and 1,100 in the carriage house  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 42Buy Photo And this has been a lucky house. Over 100 years, it has had just five owners, and every one had enough money to nurture it.   Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 43Buy Photo The home was built in 1929 on 2.2 acres.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 44Buy Photo The carriage house is over the 5 car garage.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 45Buy Photo A sculpture graces the side of the carriage house.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 46Buy Photo A garden in front of the pool house.  Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Pressmotown-artifacts-up-for-grabs-as-berry-gordys-detroit-mansion-is-sold photo 47

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Article Motown artifacts up for grabs as Berry Gordy's Detroit mansion is sold compiled by www.freep.com