Last call for Cape Town’s iconic auctioneer

Julius Buchinsky succumbed to cancer last week.

Julius and Alma Buchinsky would have been married for 60 years next April.

However, at 11.20pm on Wednesday June 29, Cape Town’s most famous auctioneer succumbed to liver and pancreatic cancer at the age of 85.

It had only been two and a half months since he was diagnosed with the disease.

Mr Buchinsky’s funeral was held at Pinelands Number Two Jewish Cemetary on Sunday July 3, and was attended by hundreds of mourners from around South Africa.

Several had also flown in from abroad.

In one of his last media interviews earlier this year (“Newlands auctioneer back with a bang,” Tatler, April 14), Mr Buchinsky, famed for his black-rimmed spectacles, told the Tatler that he had relaunched Julius Buchinsky Auctions, primarily targeting the new business at up-and-coming auctioneers in Cape Town’s disadvantaged areas.

“I will not be be doing any auctioneering myself. Rather, I am going to sell under licence, which means I will teach you to become an auctioneer,” Mr Bunchinsky said at his Newlands home at the time.

“I still believe in the power of an auction to make people excited. These days there are online auctions everywhere, but there is no excitement. There is just such an aura about an on-site auction.”

Neale Petersen, of Real Estate Investor Magazine, and Cape Town businessman and CA Mark Canning have come on board as co-shareholders in the business.

Mr Buchinsky became a household name in the city in the 1970s and 1980s, regularly appearing in the media for the sometimes extraodinary items that went under his hammer.

He famously auctioned a yacht that had once belonged to policeman-turned-bank robber Andre Stander, the Lily Rose, which had been impounded by the police.

In another remarkable sale, he managed to unload two Boeings, a passenger and cargo plane.

Speaking to the Tatler this week, Alma Buchinsky said the funeral had been a fitting tribute to her husband, with the rabbi delivering a wonderful eulogy.

“There were so many people at the funeral, and I personally did not know everyone there. Julius was was such a kind-hearted man. He would give the shirt off his back for anyone,” she said.

Ms Buchinsky added that her husband had sold the business to his co-shareholders shortly before his death.

Mr Buchinsky’s son, Farrel, who flew in from Pittsburg in America for his father’s funeral, remembered him as someone who was incredibly driven.

“He was always someone who wanted to succeed at whatever he did. But at the same time he was someone who would always talk about bringing joy to the world,” Farrel said.

“What I remember most about his auctions was that he used them as an impromptu platform for the frustrated showman in him. I think he must have wanted to be a comedian when he was younger, so when the opportunity came in front of an audience he would use it to tell jokes.”

Mr Canning said he and Mr Petersen would continue trading as Julius Buchinsky Auctions, continuing the “legacy of Julius”.

“Julius was always interested in mentoring people who wanted to join the industry, as this was his passion. I personally benefited from his teachings and insights and look forward to carrying on his legacy with Neale. We will also carry on with the Jay-Bee discount card (another of Mr Buchinsky’s legacy businesses), revamping it and making it more accessable and rewarding.

“Julius’s network of people he met over the many years continue to this day, and we are looking to continue to build on this network so as to achieve the vision he had for the business and the legacy of his name.”

Mr Buchinsky is survived by Alma, Farrel, his other children, Pauline and Glenn, and five grandchildren.