Galbraith's Car Brings $19,000 In T.V. Auction

Strike another blow for conspicuous consumption.

Thorstein Veblen would have been proud last Saturday night when WGBH-TV, the Cambridge Public Broadcasting System affiliate, auctioned off the distinctive purple-and-gold 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible that the Harvard Lampoon last year awarded John Kenneth Galbraith, Warburg Professor of Economics Emeritus.

The car, which Galbraith donated to WGBH's fundraising drive shortly after being named "Funniest Professor of the Century" at last January's Lampoon centennial celebration, brought $19,250 for WGBH's annual fundraising auction from an anonymous buyer in New Hampshire.

Galbraith said yesterday that he has not met or spoken to the car's new owner.

"But if you were to ask me if I would sell a used car to this man, the answer is yes," he added.

Galbraith also acted as a guest auctioneer during the televised fundraiser, which occupied WGBH's airwaves for the better part of last week, but did not participate in the sale of the auto.

"I left the auctioning of the car to experts--and I feel that WGBH, in its first venture in the automobile business, did very well," he said.

Harrison Osgood, WGBH's auction manager, said yesterday he thinks the purchaser of the car made an economically sound investment.

"It's really about worth that, you know--they just don't make the darn things like that anymore," Osgood said.

Osgood added that this year's auction raised a record-breaking total of $783,000 for the station's operating fund.

Members of the Lampoon's executive board could not be reached to comment last night on the car's purchase. However, one member of the Lampoon staff, who asked not to be identified, said yesterday he does not think the Eldorado's new owner has "all his screws in the right place."

"What kind of clown wants to buy a car like that?" he asked.