From diamonds to denim, and tchotchkes to chic couture, The Marylou Whitney Collection Auction offers diverse purchasing opportunities for fans and friends — anyone who wishes to have a personal remembrance of the philanthropic icon who was known as the Queen of Saratoga.
The online event is the personification of the popular philanthropist’s lifelong philosophy of giving, sharing, and supporting charities. The auction benefits the new building that will be the future home of the backstretch medical clinic operated at Saratoga Race Course by Saratoga Hospital and the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST).
The website, www.MarylouWhitneyCollection.com, debuts Wednesday, June 17, at 10 a.m., for preview only, via a link to the auction site. The auction action begins Monday, July 27, at midnight, and continues through Saturday, Aug. 1, at 11.59 p.m.: Whitney Stakes day at Saratoga Race Course. Bidding and “Buy It Now” options will be available.
One of the most special items in the “fine jewelry” category is a diamond choker necklace that was especially dear to Marylou. The exquisite piece was a birthday gift from her husband John Hendrickson. Marylou’s pristine 1985 red Jaguar XJ6 will create interest from collectors and the public. With only 28,449 original miles, the showroom-worthy sedan has leather seats and an automatic transmission.
Other featured items include designer evening gowns; couture ensembles and cocktail dresses by Bill Blass, Arnold Scassi, and Chanel; evening purses by Judith Lieber Couture and Chanel; fur coats; hats; vintage dresses; and designer scarves by Hermès and Tiffany. Many very affordable and practical items, such as costume jewelry, casual attire, hats, coats, scarves, memorabilia, and furniture, also will be offered.
Hendrickson developed the concept of sharing Marylou’s worldly possessions with others, while helping two charitable entities. He donated approximately 1,500 pieces that have been photographed and categorized for the auction.
“As I began the difficult task of going through Marylou’s personal items at each of our homes, she seemed to speak to me,” Hendrickson said. “No one shared her blessings and good fortune more than Marylou. No one was more dedicated to helping charities than Marylou … and so the idea was born. Her spirit of giving will live on — Marylou’s personal items are going for a greater good.”
Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone considers the auction “a fitting partnership that reflects and strengthens the hospital’s long-standing relationship with Marylou.”
Marylou Whitney’s extraordinary generosity to Saratoga Hospital is publicly acknowledged in the naming of the Marylou Whitney and Desmond DelGiacco, M.D., Intensive Care Unit, and the Whitney-Hendrickson Cardiovascular & Interventional Suite.
“Once again, Saratoga Hospital owes a debt of gratitude to Marylou — and to John, who chose us as a beneficiary of this auction,” Mr. Calbone said. “We know how much the backstretch workers meant to Marylou, and we are honored to play a key role in making sure they continue to receive the care they need and deserve.”
BEST launched the backstretch clinic in a trailer at Saratoga Race Course in 2005 and partnered with Saratoga Hospital in 2009. Since then, a team of bilingual doctors, nurses, and other Saratoga Hospital healthcare professionals have provided primary care, disease management and prevention, and other services.
Paul Ruchames, executive director of BEST, expressed his appreciation. “We were thrilled to learn that John committed to building this new, state-of-the-art facility, as a tribute to the healing spirit that Marylou exuded,” Ruchames said. “The welfare of backstretch workers was so close to her heart, and they loved her. The public’s participation in this auction will appropriately honor her legacy of kindness to everyone.”
The new www.MarylouWhitneyCollection.com website features the Saratoga icon’s background and accomplishments, a video, photographs, as well as a complete listing, with photographs, of all her personal items that will be featured — several with Marylou wearing the outfit or accessory. There is a link to bring shoppers to the auction categories and individual items, and a link for those wishing to make a tax-deductible contribution. Additionally, all will have the option to register for the auction in advance, to receive bidding notifications during the auction via text alert, or to ask questions via email.
Fourteen years ago, Marylou and John founded the Backstretch Appreciation Dinners, which evolved into daily events for backstretch workers. In recognition of Marylou’s compassion for these racetrack workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged a memorial tribute — a permanent backstretch event pavilion at the track, to be named The Marylou Whitney Pavilion. The New York Racing Association lauded Marylou’s and the Whitney family’s commitment to racing by building the multi-story Whitney Viewing Stand at the Oklahoma training track. Additionally, as a memorial tribute, in 2019, NYRA named the Clubhouse entrance to the track, The Marylou Whitney Clubhouse Entrance.