Estate Sale of Jerusalem’s Hidden Mega Pastor, Lance Lambert

A colorful cross-section of society came out to bid on his wares, but no one wanted to talk about it.

Jerusalem residents prepare for Christmas (photo credit: screenshot)
Jerusalem residents prepare for Christmas
(photo credit: screenshot)
For a prominent gentleman with a worldwide following and a splendid home in one of Jerusalem’s most sought-after neighborhoods, a home he extravagantly filled with objets trouvé whose origins spanned the globe, Lance Lambert lived a surprisingly circumspect life.
Dr. Marcie Lenk, Director of Christian Leadership Programs at the Shalom Hartman Institute and a professor of Patristics at the Ratisbonne Monastery’s Studium Theologicum Salesianum, had never heard of him. “No, nothing,” she said. Neither had Dr. Paul Wright, president of Jerusalem University College. “Who?” he asked. Hannah Amichai, the widow of the venerated Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai and a neighbor of Lambert’s in there exclusive Yemin Moshe neighborhood, a pedestrian enclave tucked into a hill across from the Old City, could more or less place the patrician Englishman, but didn’t even know his name. But online, in an effervescent dedicated Youtube channel and around the world, where he was invited to expound on his ideas on Christianity, Judaism, and, most famously, on his prophesies concerning the future of Israel. When he died, last May, the Christian Friends of Israel, Jerusalem, posted that its “Lance Lambert library is filled with timeless teachings from this man of God first with the older cassette messages, then video, presently cds/dvds and,” it went on, surely in the future “his voice will still resound around the world in the anointing he carried for prayer for Israel and the Church and Israel.”
He was born in 1930, according to some reports in “Europe” and according to others in Surrey, England. His booming, self-assured voice seems to betray something of a continental enunciation but all reports have it that grew up in Richmond, Surrey and “came to know the Lord at twelve years of age.”
Then, this, from his own website: “Having discovered his Jewish ancestry Lance became an Israeli citizen in 1980 and had his home next to the Old City of Jerusalem until his passing on May 10, 2015. His father and many members of his family died in the Holocaust.”
The latter could not be confirmed. For over 30 year, he produced an online newsletter called Middle East Update where, for the modest sum of about $4, you could hear Lambert’s take on events in the Middle East on your MP3. The Reverend Chuck Kopp of Jerusalem’s Narkis Street Congregation and his wife not only knew Lambert “when he was a backpacker, on his very first trip here,” but gave the “quite penniless young man” shelter in their home for several years. “He got our name somewhere in Britain and would sleep on the floor or on our spare bed.”
Lambert developed “an affinity” with Israel, Kopp said. By the time Lambert died, the two men hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. During that time, Kopp seems to have traveled the world, picking up objets d’art, Hungarian porcelain, pale Chinese jade adornments, mini sculptures carved in ivory, a Bechstein piano, Japanese hand-paintings of geishas, intricate Damascene furniture, antique cloisonné and brightly tinted Bavarian crystal decanters with ever sermon. And that’s just the start of it.
The auction, scheduled to last for four hours, lasted for eight. Claudio Wengrowicz, the auctioneer who magisterially ran the event, claimed he netted just under a quarter of a million dollars but many observers upped the estimate by two. The sale was conducted in Lambert’s living room, still looking more or less as it once had, only now rows of eager collectors sat in plastic chairs, perched on sofa armrests and crammed into the foyer, raucously competing with online bidders and contestants on the phone.
A slim youngish man wearing a buff beret, a Jerusalemite Christian representing, so it was whispered, a client in Dubai, quietly raised his hand towards the very end of every bid on an item of Damascene provenance—benches, Islamic items and a breathtaking set of copper table-tray and coffee pitcher that he bought for $4600, up from a starting price of $300. It is difficult to imagine what Marie Kondo might have done with this living room, jam-packed with things and with people, or with the avid collectors, possibly hoarders, on-site. An almost complete set of Herend porcelain dishes started at $500 and went for $8500, to an American buying online. “Our evangelical world has its stars and idols too,” Kopp said, “and people who are anxious to support that kind of presentation, and Lambert was a gifted speaker, so I imagine he was paid handsomely for his speaking tours.” Indeed. The sale, one of Israel’s most breathy and, according to most people in the room, Claudio’s Auction House’s top ever, drew everyone from grouchy Tel Aviv dealers to anxious Palestinians, brooding ultra-Orthodox Jews, British ladies interesting in chipped stoneware (who left disappointed) and a few private auctioneering fiends.
A few days after the sale Yaron Ben Israel, the owner of a health-food store from the Tel Aviv bedroom community of Ramat Hasharon, lamented that it was “a pity I didn’t buy more—his stuff was great.” He spent—well, he spent several thousand dollars at the sale, and came away with some jade artefacts, a 25 1.2 inch cloisonné plate and, his favorite, a 1969 oil painting by the German-born Tel Aviv painter Steffa Reis. Wengrowicz, who wears his hair short and a diamond stud in his left ear and who has been an appraiser and an auctioneer for some 30 years, attributed the relative rarity of the objects in Israel’s small antiquities market to the acceleration of bids. “First of all, the place, that home. Plus, the special things: Damascus, China, Japan, excellent quality jades, other precious stones, everything. It’s just not stuff you find in the local market. Lambert brought everything from abroad.”
Still, he said his biggest surprise of the day was $10,000 paid for a set of five scrolls, including the Books of Ruth and of Esther. The reverend Al Nucciarone, pastor of the Jerusalem Baptist Church, that shares a building with Kopp’s Narkis Congregation, confessed that in his eight years in Jerusalem he did not know Lambert well, but that as “a world traveler, bible teacher, and very very well known among Christian circles here, well-liked, British, good sense of humor.