Celebrity Martini Glass Auction Blends Art and Philanthropy

Where is the best place for celebrity spotting in Naples? This winter, it was the waterfront Moorings home of Tom and Betsy Matlock for a Celebrity Martini Glass Auction patron party. Attendees were instructed, via hand-delivered invitation, to bring their favorite A-Lister, in the form of a beautifully designed martini glass. Guests received special boxes to pack their “celebrities” in, which were then transported to the party. All the glasses, which were bid on and won at previous Celebrity Martini Glass Auctions, were autographed by famous figures, including Ben Affleck, Kevin Spacey, and Sheryl Crow, and decorated by artists to reflect the signee.

Tom and Betsy Matlock
Brenda and Phil Melton

No one was more pleased to revisit some of the one-of-a-kind showpieces than Brenda Melton, CMGA’s founder. In 2010, when HBO’s popular comedy series Sex and the City made it to the big screen for round two of its movie franchise, Melton first launched her idea to auction celebrity-autographed martini glasses for charity. The inaugural event was held in the Saks Fifth Avenue shoe department in Naples and has since snowballed into a popular, exclusive affair that has raised more than $500,000 in each of the past two years.

2017 glasses feature Misty Copeland (designed by Michele Kortbawi Wilk), the first African-American to be appointed principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

“It is mind blowing to me to think that it all started in that shoe department where we had 30 signed celebrity glasses going for approximately $200 each,” says Melton. “Fast forward seven years and, depending on the celebrity and designer, a glass can go anywhere from $3,000 to $70,000.”

As for the allure of the glasses and the event, Melton credits star power. “Celebrities take you to a world of imagination,” she says. Since its inception, CMGA has benefited various charities. This year, the funds raised will go exclusively to PAWS Assistance Dogs, which provides wounded veterans and special-needs children with skilled assistance dogs. The two-year training process for each dog costs approximately $35,000 and there is an ever-growing wait list of hopeful recipients.

Last fall, the first group of dogs, deemed “the lucky 7,” who came out of PAWS’ initial partnership with the CMGA, officially graduated and were placed with deserving individuals.

This year’s Celebrity Martini Glass Auction will take place March 26 at Artis—Naples.

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