A few months back I did a story about Jonathan Greenstein, who is the founder and owner of J. Greenstein and Co. auction house in Cedarhurst, NY. Jonathan now has his hands on some amazing pieces, including from the private collection of Joan Rivers, which will be featured in his Passover auction in late April.
“Listen, any Spode Judaica plate might go for $75 at a Judaica store. Maybe a little more in the United States because it’s made in the UK.” Jonathan Greenstein said in a calm voice. He continued, “but since Joan Rivers owned this one — my starting bid won’t be for any lower than $5,000.” This is bar-none an example of a piece of dust becoming a piece of gold simply by having a goddess touch it!
Joan Rivers’ seder plates are now part of a wider collection of Passover-related Judaica that span a range in time from the 1740’s all the way up to the early 2000’s. Jonathan Greenstein, owner and expert-in-charge at J. Greenstein and Co. is known the world over for his expertise in Jewish History and his staunch support of the State of Israel. Jonathan has been appraising Jewish Art since he was in high school. Since those days 20 years ago, he has auctioned the personal collections of Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Steinhardt, Shlomo Carlebach, and Alan Dershowitz.
Jonathan’s happiest moment is when a family brings him what he calls an “attic find.” They’re helping grandma pull something out of the cellar or the back closet when they stumble upon a family heirloom that is stunning to the sight, and gilt with gold or silver. They call him for an appraisal… and they decide not to sell. He is overjoyed when a family finds something beautiful and decides to display it on their own dining room table.
The auction featuring Joan’s seder plate will take place on May 2 at his Auction House in Cedarhurst. Jonathan hopes that Joan’s Judaica will find its way into good a good family and that it will be anything but an “attic find” in the future. He is optimistic that by next Passover, the plate will be the centerpiece of a large family gathering that allows people to connect to each other just as they connect to generations past.