Donald Kaufman (collector)
|Donald Lewis Kaufman|
October 8, 1930|
|Died||October 12, 2009
|Known for||Collector of antique toys|
Donald Lewis Kaufman (8 October 1930 – 12 October 2009) was an American toy collector amassing millions of dollars' worth of antique items in his country home in western Massachusetts.
Kaufman born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and was educated at the North Adams State College. He then did national service in the Army in the early 1950s. Afterwards he joined the family business, Kaufman Brothers, started by his father and uncle in 1922 and which sold general goods.
The Kaufman Brothers' business expanded into retail in 1960. Kaufman Brothers Toys, KayBee Toys, K·BToys was fully established in 1972 with stores in 44 states, Puerto Rico as well as Guam. Donald Kaufman introduced the concept of putting toy stores into strip mall and later into shopping malls. Donald Kaufman was vice president at the time and retired in 1980. K·BToys was sold to Melville Corporation in 1981 and then to Consolidated Stores in 1996. The empire at its peak included 1,300 stores. In 2000, right before Mitt Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted K•B Toys to bankrupt, take its revenues and leave it owing money. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and a business model which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest. K•B Toys employees were of thousands that lost jobs due to the leverage. K•B Toys' demise was hastened by a host of genuine market forces, including competition from video games and cellphones, affecting decline in retail toy sales. KayBee Toys was completely dissolved in 2009 and was the second-oldest operating toy retailer in North America (behind FAO Schwarz) before its demise.<http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829>
Kaufman married Faith Dichter and they had three daughters. The marriage was eventually dissolved. He then married Sally Golden, who had two children from her previous marriage. Throughout his adult life he spent vacations touring toy fairs in the Northeast and in Europe and amassed a huge collection of antique toy cars and trucks.
Kaufman's important collection of antique toys included his first item, International Harvester Red Baby truck, purchased for $4 from a collector friend in 1950. The collection also included a working 1912 Märklin live-steam fire engine and he had more than 700 cars and trucks arranged on shelves in a four-level annex to his property. Other larger items included 40 pedal and oversized pressed-steel cars. The total size of the collection was estimated at 7,000 items, which he amassed with the help of his wife, Sally. "It was a team effort...It was one of my lifelong pleasures but when she came into my life 20-some years ago she partnered in it and enjoyed what we did just as much as I did. I couldn’t have done this without her."
As of March 2009, about a fifth of his collection had been sold at auction by Bertoia Auctions for $4.2 million. In September a further 1,100 toys brought in an estimated $3 million. At the time of the first sale, Jeanne Bertoia stated it would take a series of 4-6 sales to sell the entire collection.
- Dennis Hevesi (17 October 2009). "Donald Kaufman, Collector of Toy Cars, Dies at 79". The New York Times.
- "Donald Kaufman collection steps into the spotlight March 19–21 at Bertoia's". Live Auctioneers. 13 February 2009.
- Eric Bradley (9 September 2009). "King of Toys: Donald Kaufman reflects on a lifetime of collecting".
- "Bertoia Auctions chosen to sell Donald Kaufman collection of antique automotive, comic character and European wind-up toys.". Live Auctioneers. 20 June 2008.