The Triennial Event Contributes to Remarkable $4.5 Million Raised over the Past Three Months by The Women’s Board of Lyric Opera.

Wine Auction Interior


The evening’s guest list welcomed Chicago’s philanthropic elite, including:Erica and Jim Sandner, Marilynn and Carl Thoma, Shirley and Patrick Ryan, Kim and Miles White, Nancy Searle, Christina and Ronald Gidwitz, Caryn and King Harris, Cathy and William Osborn, Tina and Byron Trott, Stephen Kaplan and Alyce Sigler, Nancy and Scott Santi, Alex and John Nichols, Lindy and Michael Keiser, Alpana Singh, Peter and Gabriela Roth, Betsy and Andy Rosenfield, Jana and Eric Schreuder, Anne and Christopher Reyes, Susan and Richard Kiphart, Sue Flood, Mimi and Todd Mitchell, Alison and Drew McNally, Elizabeth and Michael Cole, Suzette and Allan Bulley, and Becky and Lester Knight.The evening’s honored guest was David Launay from the historic Château Gruaud Larose in Bordeaux.

Wine Auction Guests 1


The Women’s Board of the world-renowned Lyric Opera of Chicago hosted its highly anticipated Wine Auction Saturday, February 7 on the famous stage of the Ardis Krainik Theatre of the historic Civic Opera House. The triennial event – led by Erica L. Sandner, Chairman, and Vice Chairman Marilynn Thoma – raised $1.8 million in net proceeds that directly benefit Lyric Opera of Chicago. The evening marked another successful project of The Women’s Board, which has raised more than $4.5 million in the past three months for the opera company.

Wine Auction 2015 welcomed more than 400 guests who share a passion for philanthropy, fine arts and wine collecting. Guests had the opportunity to bid on nearly 230 lots comprised of 1,300 bottles of highly rarified wines and more than 45 luxury travel and dining experiences. Lyric Opera’s wine auctions have now netted nearly $9 million since its 1988 inception. 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to Lyric’s annual campaign, which supports the world-renowned opera company’s activities.

The evening began with an elegant reception and silent auction in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Grand Foyer at 5:30 p.m. Guests were then ushered into the Ardis Krainik Theatre, whose main stage was completely transformed into a stunning dinner and live auction venue – featuring a dramatic crystal curtain and stunning crystal chandeliers – and extended to accommodate seating for more than 400 guests. HMR Designs worked hand-in-hand with Lyric Opera’s technical and design team to bring the dramatic vision to life.

In the majestic grandeur of the theatre, guests dined on the exquisite menu curated by Wine Auction’s first chef partner, Thomas Lents, Executive Chef of the two-Michelin-starred Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. The dinner menu was paired with remarkable wine selections from Château Gruaud Larose and expertly executed in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s in-house catering partner, Calihan Catering.

Following dinner, the live auction commenced with Michael Davis and Ben Ferdinand of Hart Davis Hart Wine Company, who wielded the gavel with spirit and precision as lead auctioneers on behalf of Lyric Opera. They presented nearly 80 lots of premier travel, dining and luxury experiences, and over 500 bottles of rarified, highly desired wines. Bidders participated in person, by phone and electronically from all over the nation.


Wine Auction Guests 4


All of the evening’s live and silent auction items were sold, including Lyric Opera’s special commemorative wine SONG™, created by HALL Wines of Napa Valley exclusively for Lyric. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was released in a limited number of hand-painted, etched magnums.  Over 30 magnums were purchased during the evening, including one special 6-liter selection presented in the live auction. SONG™ was generously underwritten by Abbott.


The top grossing auction lots of the evening included:
$64,000     Lot 13: Renée Fleming in-home dinner (doubled)
$78,000     Lot 19: African Safari with Wildlife Photographer Sue Flood (tripled)
$40,000     Lot 17: Trip for Two to Tuscany at Private Estates of Italian Royalty
$35,000     Lot 25: One case of Château Mouton Rothschild 1985 Bordeaux (doubled)Details of the auction lots can be found here:


Mimi Mitchell, President, Lyric Opera of Chicago Women’s Board
Erica L. Sandner, Chairman, Wine Auction 2015
Marilynn Thoma, Vice-Chairman, Wine Auction 2015
Nancy S. Searle, Wine Solicitation Chairman
Lili Gaubin, Travel Chairman
Suzette Bulley, Menu Chairman
Susan Noyes and Karen Z. Gray, Décor Chairmen


Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction 2015 was presented by Northern TrustGuggenheim was Wine Auction’s onstage and catalogue sponsor.


Named “One of the World’s Best Wine Auctions” by, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Wine Auction has netted nearly $9 million since its 1988 inception. The proceeds go directly to Lyric’s annual campaign, which supports the world-renowned opera company’s activities.For more information, visit, call (312) 827-5682 or visit the auction’s Facebook page.



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