Human Resources and Nonprofits

Auctioneer presents personal items of late Steelcase heir

November 21, 2014
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Steelcase heir, philanthropist Peter Wege dies at 94
Peter Melvin Wege. Photo via wegefoundation.com

Peter Melvin Wege, the late Grand Rapids icon of generosity, is still giving.

Wege, a Steelcase heir and founder of The Wege Foundation in Grand Rapids, passed away this summer. Yet, some of his assets are still serving his mission of charity: his personal belongings.

Orbitbid.com is hosting an auction of Wege’s residential items on Dec. 3. The auction will begin at 8 a.m., start closing at around 6 p.m. and likely finish up bidding at about 8:30 p.m., said Jon Kuiper, vice president, Orbitbid.com

The Wege Foundation will receive a large portion of the auction’s proceeds.

Since all the items are being stored at Wege’s house in East Grand Rapids, at 2754 Pioneer Club Rd. SE, the estate and The Wege Foundation have requested that there be no preview day for security reasons.

Kuiper said it’s an understandable request, given the personal nature of the auction. The items will be made available for pick up after the auction, with professional movers there to aid in the process.

Up to 600 items

Although the tally of auction-able material isn’t complete, the number of items stands at about 343 and could reach up to 600, Kuiper said.

The auction will feature a wide range of Wege’s personal items: a 2010 Lincoln MKS; Yamaha Disklavier Mark III Grand Piano; bronze sculptures, including “Winchester Rider” (1979, number 111 of 250) and “St. Francis and Bro Bernardo in Prayer” (signed and numbered); and Persian and Indian-Oriental rugs.

House full of thank yous

In all the auctions Orbitbid has overseen, something stood out in this one, Kuiper said.

As he went through the house, he realized that in almost every room, there were thank you gifts from all the people and entities that Wege had contributed to over the years.

“On every wall and desk there was some kind of a thank you, not necessarily notes or letters, but maybe some art on the wall that was given as a thank you,” Kuiper said.

“Even in passing, he certainly continues to give.” 

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