New York City


By  | 

I had the chance to sit down with one of the world’s famous charity auctioneers, Howie Schwartz.

For over two decades, Howie has run Grandstand Sports & Memorabilia (GSM) and over the course of that time, he estimates that he has raised over $100 million dollars that has gone to charities such as the Make a Wish Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, and the ALS Foundation, to name a few. Each year, Schwartz runs charity fundraising programs for over 1,000 nonprofits offering the organizations this unique selling proposition: nobody he works for pays him. GSM covers all their own travel expenses and doesn’t take any money from any auction items supplied by the charity. Schwartz is the industry leading auctioneer who only requires a microphone and a stage. His outstanding personality, professionalism, and passion to help others comes through at every charity event that GSM has a presence at. 

Being intrigued how somebody gets into the auction business, I asked Howie to share his background. “I have been in the Sports & Entertainment Business since 1990. I started out selling Sports & Entertainment memorabilia reaching fans through publications such as The Sporting News, The National and others. By the late 1990’s, I became a Professional Auctioneer and created the FIRST Charity Auction Services firm in the world by offering our Silent & LIVE Auctioneer services for FREE to Charities worldwide. In the early 2000’s, I had now become an expert in the field of Sports Memorabilia and was the Guest Host on a weekly LIVE show with CNNfn Host Ali Velshi. Viewers were able to call in and inquire “how much was their collectible worth.” The producers indicated it was the most highly watched hour each week. I was then featured on many other media outlets as the “go to” person on everything collectibles related. Also, in the early 2000’s, I shifted the focus of Grandstand to expand the Charity Auction Services division to offer much more than just Sports & Entertainment memorabilia to VIP Experiences and Excursions. From Meet & Greets with world famous athletes like Derek Jeter, Mark Messier, Soccer legend Pelé, Mariano Rivera and the entire 1980 Miracle on Ice Hockey Team (who was our first Exclusive in the year 2000), to Celebrity Chef Dinners and more. Grandstand, with our FREE Silent & Live Auction coordination service as well as our AMAZING VIP Experiences started to become the most sought-after Charity Auction Services firm in the U.S.” Wow! Sounds very exciting to say the least.  

Howie went on to share “In 2009, Grandstand signed Michael Phelps to an Exclusive Deal which included both autographed Olympic memorabilia as well as Phelps leading a Swim Clinic for Kids, which was one of our most popular auction items that year. Parents were bidding a ton to have their son and/or daughter be in the pool and learn strokes from the most decorated Olympian of All-Time. The highlight of the Swim Clinic Experience was not only the kids’ learning strokes from Michael Phelps, but every child in the Clinic also got to RACE Michael in an Olympic style race. Fast forward to current, Grandstand has become the #1 rated Charity Auction Services firm in the U.S. and was recently featured on the front page of Entrepreneur Magazine.  We’ve also started doing auctions at Conferences – letting the organizations CHOOSE which charity/charities they’d like to support and add a philanthropic and fun component to their events. Attendees love bidding on things both for themselves and for their kids to bring home something fun and cool for their loved ones. We travel across the country and provide an auctioneer on our own dime as well.” So, if a client in Seattle wants to use your services, you pay for airfare, transportation, hotel, etc.? “Of course, we do and happily.”

As we all like celebrities and athletes we like hearing about what causes are close to them and seeing their human side. “I’ve worked with Pelé, Phelps, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Mark Messier, the entire 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team, Annette Benning, many of the Sopranos Actors, to name a few. Most athletes and celebrities concentrate on child related charities from providing opportunities in underserved communities to pediatric cancer and other illnesses. Most really give back and often, we don’t get to hear about it because they want it that way.  It’s not a look at me moment for them, it is something that they’re doing from their heart.” 

Let’s talk Aaron Judge for a moment since I’m a die-hard Yankees fan and watch all the games including this last big one which he hit homerun #62 breaking a 61-year-old record when he hit his 62nd home run in a game against the Texas Rangers. Judge made history by breaking the American League record for single-season home runs that had been held by Roger Maris since 1961. “Yes, that was a tremendous feat by Judge and like you, I’m a true Yankees fan as well and still extremely excited for him, the Yankees organization, and the fans. We have several items that we are bringing to charity events – ALL of which are focused on HR #62 – signed balls, photos, bats, Ltd Ed commemorative items and much more.

We also have an interactive Experience for next year where donors can catch the HR balls hit by Yankees Players (like Judge assuming he re-signs with the Yanks) during Batting Practice.”

We know you’re hosting a Meet & Greet on December 5 at Wallace Hall in Manhattan from 5:30pm – 8:30pm. “Yes, Zach Wilson (NY Jets Quarterback) and Daniel Jones (NY Giants Quarterback) will be available for a fun and interactive experience with the fans. Guests will walk the red carpet, take photos with each player, receive an autographed photo, and join in on a Q & A. There will be great food, open bar, and videos. Kids are welcome to attend as there are no age restriction. Moreover, there will be an NFL legend who will attend and join us for this special night. Fans can buy tickets to attend and make memories that will last a lifetime. (212) 532-8900 x228. 

Any other events on tap? “Yes, we have a Sopranos Meet & Greet with Vincent Pastore aka “Big Pussy” and other Sopranos Stars on March 14th, 2023, being held at Tony’s DiNapoli in midtown Manhattan. This will be another fun and interactive experience where guests will walk the red carpet, take photos with the stars, and join in on a special Q & A. I can’t forget to mention the delicious food and open bar as Tony’s is truly a true authentic Italian restaurant with mouthwatering dishes.”

In speaking with Howie, he shared that he has worked with over 5,000 charities and has helped to raise over 20 million annually for Organizations worldwide. THIS service DOES exist, and GSM can increase your revenue by up to 5x as much as in previous years. Organizations STILL get to bring in their own items and receive 100% of the proceeds. Pretty impressive if you asked me and such a great way to give back and help charities raise additional funds!

(212) 532-8900 x228

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply