ELKHART — David Gundlach was an entrepreneur who grew up in Elkhart and traveled around the world, collecting art and making a lasting impression on the people he met along the way.
Even after his death in 2011, his legacy lives on.
Local philanthropists and the Elkhart County Community Foundation raised roughly $220,000 Thursday night, May 29, for local nonprofit organizations in memory of Gundlach, who left an unparalleled gift to the foundation after his death that added up to about $150 million.
More than 200 people gathered at the Lerner Theatre to bid on 27 items from Gundlach’s personal collection of art and unique furniture. Winning bidders will work with the Elkhart County Community Foundation to direct the proceeds from the auction to local charities of their choice. The foundation agreed to match the gifts by 25 percent up to $25,000.
The top seller in Thursday night’s auction was a painting titled “Music in His Soul” by artist Yuri Gevorgian Yuroz, which had a listed retail value of $250,000. The painting, which hung in Gundlach’s home, was sold for $26,000.
The items sold in the auction represented about half of Gundlach’s collection. Other pieces are being retained by the Elkhart County Community Foundation because of their personal significance to Gundlach.
“We kept about 15 or 20 pieces that someday, someplace in this community we intend to establish as a permanent marker and memorial to David,” Foundation President Pete McCown said. “I see us having his portrait. I see us having a picture of he and his mother, Marge, together, perhaps some sort of cast or etched biography of this man so that when our great-grandchildren try to understand why Elkhart County is the best place in the Midwest, if not the world, that this man was part of that story and made an investment in them and their lives.”
Premier Arts, the Lerner’s resident theater group, honored NIBCO Vice Chairwoman Alice Martin with the second annual Arthur J. Decio Patron of the Arts Award as part of Thursday night’s event. She was described by friends, family and colleagues as having an energetic, positive spirit, always dedicated to supporting the local arts scene.
“Picasso had a saying that art is for washing off the dirty dust of the day, and I think that’s exactly true,” Martin said as she accepted the award. “Tonight we get to celebrate art, we get to celebrate philanthropy and we get to celebrate Elkhart.”