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Ripley Auctions Offers Decades of Experience In Broad Ripple

Photographer / Michael Durr

When Dan Ripley and his staff at Ripley Auctions are approached by a potential client about selling an item or a group of items, they draw on decades of experience and a true passion for serving their community.

“We’re still interested, after all these years, in providing a service where we can share our expertise and help people out,” Ripley says. “That’s what I like about the auction business – partnering up with our sellers, maybe for things they’ve inherited and offering it transparently using our knowledge throughout the process.”

Ripley grew up in Monrovia, Indiana. After finishing high school, he spent the next 10 years in Cincinnati where he studied business in college and subsequently opened a nightclub that he operated successfully through the 1980s.

“I enjoyed running a nightclub and did that for quite a while, then I got into the art and antique business in the late ‘80s,” Ripley says. “Arts and antiques was a family vocation that my parents and grandparents were involved in. They were collectors and show dealers.”

An Indy resident since the early 1990s, Ripley is a third-generation Broad Ripple inhabitant and says that serving the local community, as well as art and antique collectors worldwide through online auction services, still brings him joy after decades in the auctioning business.

“Frankly, I grew up being a little put off by the art business, only because I always had the impression that everything was sort of off limits and not to be touched since it was so valuable,” Ripley recalls. “As a child, that wasn’t too interesting, but as I got older and learned about the variety of things people collect and what is available to someone as a dealer or an auctioneer, I realized you can find what fits your personal lifestyle and piques your interest.”

Ripley learned quickly, and these days he handles live and internet auctions with his staff of nine, which includes a lead auctioneer and appraisers. His company does all its shipping in-house, nationally and throughout the world.

“Having the experience of my prior generations once I did get interested, that gave me a quick jumpstart into the business – not only having access to mentors to teach me, but access to their libraries and inventory to learn from,” Ripley says.

Ripley and his staff typically offer free initial appraisals for those interested in selling their artwork, jewelry or other items.

“A lot of time a client will come to us and they may or may not know what they have, so we do a valuation review and determine whether it’s something we have a market for,” Ripley says. “We see whether it fits our business model.”

Once the Ripley Auctions staff decides to sell an item or grouping of items, they create a detailed catalog for those items with multiple, high-resolution photographs, detailed descriptions, condition reports and estimated values. The catalog is then presented online for review by potential buyers.

“We still conduct in-person auctions with an auctioneer and a live audience,” Ripley explains. “We do that about twice a month. We also offer live internet bidding worldwide and streamed audio and video for every auction so it’s virtually like watching it on TV while you’re still able to place your bids in real-time directly to the auctioneer.”

Ripley Auctions will sell for anyone, anywhere in the world.

“Our mission is serving collectors worldwide,” Ripley says. “On an international level, we specialize and have expertise in vintage costume and designer jewelry. We also specialize in art glass and Native American artifacts. We’ll have collectors and clients seek us out and hire our services to sell for them and those kinds of items can come from all over the country and the world.”

Locally, Ripley sells a range of items for clients from visual artwork and antiques to jewelry to memorabilia. The company can handle entire estate collections and many types of specialized collections.

“Part of our commitment to the local community is to work alongside local historical organizations, with our ability to sell many types of items for people here,” Ripley adds.

Ripley remains committed to serving Central Indiana both professionally and philanthropically – in 2013 he co-founded a nonprofit now known as the Judith G. Ripley Society, dedicated to the revitalization and stewardship of the White River in Indy. The organization is named in honor of Ripley’s mother, who served as director of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Committee, lived on the White River for nearly three decades and was a member of the White River Yacht Club.

“A big reason I’m here in Indianapolis, as opposed to dealing in New York City or Chicago, is the White River,” Ripley says. “Our nonprofit works a lot with local stewardship groups like the White River Alliance, the White River Yacht Club Foundation and Friends of the White River.”

With the drastic increase in internet use for auctioning, Ripley says the industry is now almost unrecognizable when compared to his early days in the business in the 1990s.

“For a lot of the traditional art and antiques, and estate items, supply exceeds demand right now – the internet is a big part of that, but it’s not all of it,” Ripley says. “Collectors have changed over the years as well, so people don’t collect the traditional antiques so much anymore, and that’s partly because the generations that did do that aren’t acquiring the way they did when they were younger and more active.”

He adds that many younger people aren’t buying the same types of items as their predecessors in the arts, antiques, jewelry and collectibles domain, instead demonstrating more specialized interests.

“For the younger people it’s less about acquiring quantities or acquiring comprehensively – it’s more esoteric and eclectic,” Ripley says.

Ripley Auctions is located at 2764 East 55th Place in Indianapolis. For more information on the Ripley Auctions staff, upcoming events, past auctions and more, call 317-251-5635 and visit ripleyauctions.com. Contact Ripley Auctions via email at sales@ripleyauctions.com.

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