Auctioneer, Tim Luke to join OCAC for Art on the Vine 2014!

February 5, 2014

On Saturday, February 8, 2014, Benefit Auctions 360 will proudly partner with Oregon College of Art and Craft on their 19th Annual Art on the Vine auction and event, featuring a stunning array of artwork created by both OCAC students and our remarkably talented and acclaimed community of Portland artists.OCAC

 Benefit Auctions 360 proudly welcomes, Tim Luke to Portland to facilitate this finely curated art auction! Tim Luke Head ShotTim Luke has an extensive background in the field of antiques and collectibles.  He is a featured appraiser on HGTV’s show “Cash in the Attic” and has participated as an appraiser on public television’s “Antique’s Roadshow.”

Before becoming an independent consultant, Tim worked at Christie’s auction house in New York City as Director of the Collectibles Department. Benefit Auctions 360 is honored to work with Tim Luke on the 19th Annual Art on the Vine Auction and Event for Oregon College of Art and Craft! A vibrant celebration of OCAC, Craft, and Portland’s creative community!

Tune into OPB tonight (1/23/12) at 8PM!

January 23, 2012

If you have the opportunity to tune into OPB this evening for Antiques Roadshow, one of our Associate Auctioneers and Emcees, Judith Rizzio, will be interviewed on the show with her armoire “baby chest” as the subject of discussion. For those of you who are as big of fans as antiques and collectibles as we are here, it should be a lot of fun to watch!

Johnna Wells of Benefit Auctions 360

February 11, 2011

In this video, Benefit Auctions 360’s principal fundraising auctioneer Johnna Wells, conducts the 2010 Our House of Portland auction, the 2010 Dove Lewis’ Boutique’s Unleashed auction, and the Amy Roloff Charity Foundation auction which was featured on an episode of TLC’s Little People, Big World. Thanks to Magaurn Video Media for providing live video coverage at both the Our House of Portland auction and Dove Lewis’ Boutique’s Unleashed!

Put a bid on it: How a Portland, OR auctioneer is keeping the city’s nonprofits afloat

January 1, 2011



posted by on August 20, 2013
Filed under: Intentions

Johnna Wells BGF photo

Johnna at the 3rd Annual Shake It Til We Make It fundraising auction and event for The Brian Grant Foundation, held last year at the iconic Rose Garden Arena. (Photo credit:

Every weekend for nine months out of the year, auctioneer Johnna Wells stands up in the center of a room filled with hundreds of people, sometimes thousands, and tries to raise the most money possible for that night’s nonprofit.

Her auction chant is automatic at this point; the mental juggling is all about reading the body language of the bidders at key tables, making sure she gets the minimum amount for the donated goods, and sustaining the energy of the crowd.

It’s become second nature for Johnna, who is admittedly shy otherwise.

“I’m more uncomfortable in a room of ten people than a thousand,” she says. “But once I get up there and get a microphone in my hand, it’s almost like my superhero cloak. I feel at home, and less exposed in that way.”

From artist to auctioneer

Johnna’s been around the rapid-fire auction environment her whole life. Her mom and dad owned and operated auction houses in Coeur D’Alene and Post Falls, Idaho, which specialized in antiques and collectibles.

As kids, every day after school, she and her brother would help their parents get read for the weekly Friday night auction, and every Friday night, they would listen to the patter of their dad’s bid call, rolling out their sleeping bags in the clerking room while buyers checked out with their treasured wares.

“It seems nerdy, but it’s an interesting and cool community of little vignettes of stories and lives,” she says.

But Johnna outgrew the family business as she got older. After studying art at the University of Idaho, she moved to Portland and began a series of art-related jobs ranging from window dressing to jewelry design. During this time, she started to question whether or not she could continue to pay the bills as an artist—and if it was fulfilling her desire to do good in the world.

Then her dog died back home. On a whim, she quit her jewelry store job, got on a plane, and chose a seat that happened to put her next to two old-timers who’d known her grandparents and told her tales of days long ago.

“Sometimes it feels like once an action is put in motion, you know you’re on the right track when the rest of those pieces start to fall into place and remind you that you made the right decision,” she says.

She ended up staying in Idaho for the summer. Coincidentally, her father’s health took a bad turn and she further learned the ins and outs of the auction method when her parents opted to leave the family farm and move into a condo. It was during that summer that she decided to go to auction school and, afterward, apprentice at a local fundraising auction company back in Portland before starting her own business.

Portland’s powerhouse fundraiser

Now Johnna is one of the seven percent of women auctioneers around the world, and a 2005 International Auctioneer Champion.

Her company, Benefit Auctions 360, works with a variety of Portland nonprofits including Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Cascade AIDS Project, and the homeless youth organization p:ear.

The fundraising auctions, which Johnna likens to “original crowdfunding,” are anything but small affairs. Throughout the course of the year, her team works with each nonprofit to strategically plan and promote each auction and event. Venues range from art museums to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum; performers have included local and famous musicians alike, from Julianne Johnson to KISS; and donated goods run the gamut from an original Gus Van Sant photograph to being a roadie for the band Rush.

This spring alone, Benefit Auctions 360 has raised a total of $14 million—and they’ve made their own donation to every organization they’ve worked with. For many of city’s nonprofits, the money they raise in one night is what keeps their doors open throughout the year.

“Years ago, I had my very first auction with p:ear. Seconds before I took the stage, Executive Director Beth Burns came over to me. She put her hand on shoulder, squeezed it firmly, and said, ‘We’ve barely got any money in the bank. So don’t mess this up,’ ” Johnna says. “I was shocked, but it really set the tone early on for how important this work is.”

Johnna is successful any way you look at it, but she doesn’t let it get to her head. In fact, she’s anything but comfortable.

“There’s always the potential to make whatever you’re doing bigger and better. And there’s also the potential for it to unravel at the seams. It all depends on you,” Johnna says. “I’m scared every day that I’m not doing the right thing, that I’m not doing my best. I think that’s a good thing. It keeps you on your toes and makes you work that much harder.”

Check out the Benefit Auctions 360 blog for tips on fundraising, auction planning, and more.

Follow them on Pinterest for auction and event ideas.

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To visit this original feature on Idealist’s Blog, click HERE



CRAVE Portland Interview

December 8, 2010

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Crave Portland, it is a fantastic organization here in Portland with the mission to “innovatively connect urban gals to the sassiest, gutsiest, most inspiring people they need to know in Portland.” Their modern marketplace of soirees, gatherings and online networking serves as an ambassador to everything there is to CRAVE about the Rose City.

In September, our Principal Fundraising Auctioneer, Johnna Wells, was interviewed by the lovely ladies over there, and at the time, we were so busy with auctions that we didn’t have the opportunity to share it with you here on the blog!  So, if you have not had the chance to read the interview, please CLICK HERE for the link!

Welcome Auctioneer, Erin Doherty Ward, B.A.S., C.A.I.

April 2, 2010
{Erin Doherty Ward works the crowd}

{Erin Doherty Ward works the crowd}

This post is long overdue, but Benefit Auctions 360 would like to introduce our associate Auctioneer, Erin Doherty Ward, and welcome her to our team! Erin is a highly trained Benefit Auction Specialist and Third Generation Auctioneer out of Long Island, New York.

We recently received two videos, that cover some exciting projects that both Erin Doherty Ward and her mother Jill Doherty have been involved in:

Video #1) This video, created in 2009 by artist Doug Aitken called “The Handle Comes Up The Hammer Comes Down,” shares an incredibly unique and thrilling performance by several auctioneers, including our lovely Erin Doherty Ward and her mother Jill Doherty at the Basel Opera in Switzerland.

the handle comes up the hammer comes down

Video #2) This second video link, directed by Jesse Reding Fleming during an event at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York on February 2, 2007. Doug Aitken and PopRally produced the event, which included a reception, musical performances by Cat Power, and street performers Ryan Donowho and Dishan Bharoocha, storytelling by Melissa Plout and other surprise guests. The female auctioneer you see in this video is Jill Doherty.