In Memoriam: Auctioneer, noted appraiser Ernest DuMouchelle, 76

Ernest DuMouchelle

For many seasons Ernest DuMouchelle was a popular appraiser on Public Television’s Antiques Roadshow, specializing in metalwork and bronzes. Photo by Jeff Dunn for WGBH, (c) WGBH 2018. Used by permission

DETROIT – Longtime art gallery and auction house executive Ernest DuMouchelle has died of natural causes, according to family members at DuMouchelles auction gallery. Mr. DuMouchelle was 76.

Active as vice president and partner of DuMouchelles for more than half a century, Ernest – known to his many friends as “Ernie” – was a distinguished figure in Detroit’s art and antiques community. He organized the auctions of property from countless high-profile estates and upscale Detroit-area homes, including Ford Motor Company board member Edsel Ford II’s grand 25-room French Baroque residence in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Together with his siblings Lawrence (DuMouchelles’ president), Norman, Rosemary and Joan, Ernest DuMouchelle worked passionately to develop the family business that had been founded in 1927 by their parents, Joseph and Charlotte. DuMouchelles earned and maintained premier status in the field of fine art and estate auctions, however, the historic firm never rested on its laurels, said Ernest’s nephew Robert DuMouchelle, the company’s general manager.

Robert told the Detroit Free Press that his uncle was “…an innovator. (Ernest) brought us into the technological age. … Back even in the 1980s, he was finding ways to merge a traditional auction service with the modern age.” DuMouchelles added the option of phone bidding to its auctions more than 30 years ago and was also an early adopter of Internet live bidding. DuMouchelles incorporated LiveAuctioneers into its business model in October 2004, making it one of the first major auction houses in the United States to embrace live-online bidding.

Ernest DuMouchelle

Image of Ernest DuMouchelle provided by DuMouchelles art and auction gallery

Ernest was also a nationally certified appraiser who became a household name far beyond Detroit through his regular on-air appearances on PBS Television’s Antiques Roadshow. His areas of specialty were metalwork and sculptures. He also volunteered his time and talents as an auctioneer for thousands of Detroit events, raising many millions of dollars for venerable institutions, churches and schools.

A Detroit native who was proud of his French lineage, Ernest spent his early years in the family home in Grosse Pointe, and at the DuMouchelles’ properties in Ontario, Canada: a cottage in Puce and their farm in Windsor. As a boy, Ernest was known to walk to the family’s gallery after school, take off his jacket, and pitch in alongside his siblings with any task at hand.

It was as a student at the University of Detroit that his passion for sailing flourished. He was a member of the college’s sailing club and competed in the National Collegiate Sailing Championships. He was an active member of Detroit’s Bayview Yacht Club, where he achieved status as both a Grand Ram (54 Bayview Mackinac races) and a Double Old Goat (25 Chicago Mackinac races and 25 Bayview Mackinac races). A partner in the racing yacht Titan, his proudest moment came when Titan took first place in the 2006 Bayview Mackinac Race.

His friends cherish memories of being with Ernie on the open water, looking down on challenging slopes, and swimming in Lake St. Clair. He will be most fondly remembered, his family said, for his sincere smile, his quick wit, and his uncanny ability to appear by a loved one’s side when life’s skies were darkest and its seas most turbulent.

Ernest DuMouchelle is survived by his wife of 25 years, Janice, as well as siblings Lawrence DuMouchelle, Norman DuMouchelle, and Joan DuMouchelle Walker; his children Tiffany DuMouchelle Solook (Steve), Justin DuMouchelle (Kara), Adam DuMouchelle (Jacqueline), Allison Larson (Kevin), Sarah Dewitt (Ryan), Matthew DuMouchelle (Heather); and his grandchildren, Henry, Yardley, Hudson, Chatham, Sebastian and Oliver. He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Charlotte (LePain) DuMouchelle, and his sister Rosemary DuMouchelle.

A memorial mass is planned for September 27, 2018, at St Ambrose Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Bayview Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program.

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