Estate auction reveals Floyd Loop and Bernadine Healy as a prominent but private couple
GATES MILLS, Ohio -- Dr. Floyd Loop was sometimes thanked in unusual ways for his lifesaving work as a heart surgeon.
From the president of the Philippines came a footlocker-size humidor full of hand-rolled cigars. A thoracic surgeon in China gave him the wooden carving of a leaping horse.
A tour of the Loop house turns up an exotic curved dagger and scabbard, giver unknown, and a framed silk weaving that bears the likenesses of Loop and his wife, Bernadine Healy.
Some items are mementos of value mainly to Loop, the former CEO of the Cleveland Clinic who died in June, and to Healy, the cardiologist and academic who headed the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross. She died in 2011.
Others items qualify as treasures worth tens of thousands of dollars. But almost all of the possessions making up the Loop estate will go under the hammer at an auction Saturday, Aug. 29.
Everything from collectibles and artwork, mostly oil paintings and bronze castings, to a late-model Volkswagen will be up for bid at the sale, open to the public at the Loop home in Gates Mills.
Included will be Loop's huge Henkel Moore executive desk, dozens of commemorative chairs, Waterford glassware and more than 70 oriental rugs, one of them valued at upwards of $35,000.
"It's diverse enough to have something for everybody," said Jeff Jeffers, head of Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers, the nationally known Ohio firm leading the sale. "I'm fascinated with the whole thing -- seeing what people collect in a lifetime and how they put it all together.
"There wasn't a story written and tucked away with each item, unfortunately. Some of that tends to get lost over time, though I suspect a lot of background will start to come out.
"There will be a little bit of emotion," Jeffers said. "Dr. Loop and Dr. Healy were well loved. Their contributions to the world were quite remarkable. Emotion will be part of the story."
He expects medical colleagues as well as collectors and the curious to be in attendance. A particular challenge, he said, is trying to handle the auction with sensitivity for the memory of the couple.
Loop, who was known as Fred and was 78 at his death, performed more than 12,000 cardiac surgeries and authored 350 papers on cardiovascular surgery while leading the Clinic's growth to a medical colossus as its chief executive from 1989 to 2004.
Healy, 67 when she died, was an adviser to three U.S. presidents and also headed the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health. She wrote or co-wrote more than 220 scholarly papers and authored two books.
The couple married in 1985. For all their prominence, they were intensely private people whose home was their refuge. It was where both of them would go to end their final battles with cancer.
"This was where, after doing the world's work, they came back to recharge, to unwind," Jeffers said. "They never intended the world would see this."
So access to the 8,000-square-foot home will be limited to a couple of entry rooms. The auction will be conducted outside in tents and in "Old Hickory," the garage building with a huge second-floor library.
The building's first floor resembled a furniture and art warehouse last week as auctioneer John Hobbs, of 3 Guys & A Lady Auctions in Lorain, continued the laborious work of sorting and cataloging.
"It was an honor to get the call for this," he said. "I was just overwhelmed. It's amazing, some of the stuff they've got in this house."
There is an intricately carved horse-drawn royal carriage, provenance not known, displayed in an aquarium-like glass case. An NFL football signed by Peyton Manning and another, from the inaugural season of the expansion Browns, signed by owner Al Lerner. Chippendale chests. Decorative boxes and Chinese cloisonné. Never-used meerschaum pipes as light as foam, and well-used briars with cleaners still in the stems.
There is a cased burka presented to Healy by the state of Qatar. A souvenir mug from Camp David. Lalique and Baccarat animals.
Exercise equipment and kitchen appliances.
Books are everywhere, in stacks, in boxes and on shelves: medical texts, legal tomes, books on public affairs, history, biography, religion, politics and media. Poetry by Yeats, mysteries by Erle Stanley Gardner, comic romps of P.G. Wodehouse.
"This was a marvelous play, a wonderful production, the life of these two people," Jeffers said. They once were his clients, he said, as they assembled the art collection notable for its 19th-century European oil paintings and bronzes by Frederic Remington and others. "They collected what appealed to them."
Jewelry and fine wine from the estate will be auctioned separately in the fall, at the Garth's gallery in Delaware, near Columbus.
The 74-year-old, 7-bedroom house also will be sold later. Its 43 acres include the greenhouse where Loop grew orchids that are being donated to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo RainForest.
The couple's grown children, who live out of town, made the decision to hold the auction on-site.
Minimum bids might be set for a few art items at the auction, Jeffers said, but not for the rest. Everything must go.
Saturday's auction starts at 10 a.m., at 710 County Line Road, with a preview Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.
With Hobbs and Dave Pritchard Auctioneering of Circleville joining Jeffers and company, they expect to move at a rate of 80 lots an hour.
"It's a marvelous opportunity to see what the process of an auction is all about," Jeffers said. "It should be a beautiful day."
More information, including a listing of auction items, is at garths.com.