$500,000 Charity Message in a Scotch Bottle

It’s rare for a $10 investment to earn $500,000 in less than a decade, but that’s exactly what has happened from the purchase of a cheap bottle of Scotch in a Thailand bottle shop nine years ago.

“A company tradition has evolved following the purchase of that Scotch bottle,” said Frank Seeley AM, founder and Chairman of Seeley International, Adelaide-based manufacturers of the well-known Braemar heating and cooling brand.

“It cost the equivalent of $10 Australian, and was bought by one of our Braemar cooling and heating dealers as a tongue-in-cheek present, at our annual dealer conference in Thailand in 2001.

“We decided to auction the Braemar Scotch bottle amongst the dealers, to raise money for a local charity.

“But the auction soon took an unexpected turn.

“I had committed to match the highest auction bid, however, without my knowledge, my brother Harold started encouraging the dealers to bid increasingly higher amounts, saying that he would match the highest dealer bid.

“Of course, I was very happy to match the final amount of $2,500 which was donated to Children with AIDS in Thailand.”

The same untouched bottle of Scotch was auctioned again in 2002, raising $5,000, and has been auctioned each year since. To this day, the original bottle has not been opened.

At this year’s dealer conference, held this week in Hawaii, the Braemar Scotch Auction raised $150,000, bringing the combined total raised to more than $549,000.

This week marked a departure from previous years with a consortium of Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian dealers all chipping in to raise a record $41,000. Once Frank matched the combined total contributed by brother Harold, the dealers and Seeley corporate, a $150,000 figure was achieved.

“All monies raised from the Braemar Scotch annual auction have been donated to charitable organisations around the world including The Leukaemia Foundation in Australia, the TLC Orphanage in South Africa, Compassion Indonesia, Hmong refugee children in Vietnam, Silky Oaks Children’s Haven in Queensland and Samaritan’s Purse in Australia and China,” said Frank.

“The money raised at this week’s auction will be divided between the Leukaemia Foundation in Australia, to support the Light the Night events, and the Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti.

“That’s not a bad effort for a cheap bottle of Scotch.”