Miami native Charles Goldstein, who died Saturday of acute leukemia at 89, constructed nothing similar to his peers.
Not his business life. Not his travel photographs. Not his breakfast menu (same thing every day for 20 years). Definitely not his thoughts. And certainly not his eclectic signature store, The 24 Collection, a staple at Bal Harbour Shops, then Lincoln Road, until he retired in 2003.
“He hired my [advertising] agency,” said Elaine Silverstein, the second surname in Beber Silverstein & Partners. “The first advertisement said, ‘Burdines, we’re not.’ ”
Goldstein liked the summnation of a store that combined fashionable clothing, art and home furnishings from Africa and Asia, jewelry from then-unknown designers. He liked Silverstein, too. Unsurprising as she, too, counted as different — half the female pair running a powerhouse advertising agency just after the “Mad Men” era.
Their marriage lasted 36 years until death did them part Saturday.
“We traveled a great deal,” Silverstein said. “He would take photographs of things other people wouldn’t — signs on buses that were badly translated, for example. He had a wonderful sense of humor, a great laugh.”
Silverstein called him a Renaissance man. The Miami Herald, in 1985, compared him to Ernest Hemingway, “if Hemingway had ever gotten around to having manicures and wearing expensive, unlined, Italian linen sports jackets.”
Hailing from a generation when workers stayed with the same business until they retired with a gold watch and a pension, Goldstein career-hopped like a millennial. Goldstein was born in Miami in 1927, spent a year at Cornell University at 17, then joined the Merchant Marine.
After World War II, the still-teenage Goldstein leased a Naval air base barracks and raised 30,000 chickens. He delivered fresh eggs in his mother’s Cadillac. He moved back to Miami and helped run the family’s linen supply business. Silverstein recalls that before The 24 Collection, he ran a business that sold electrical switches. He also ran a Volkswagen dealership.
Goldstein loved art, never mind that “he was color blind, so his interest in art was tactile,” Silverstein said.
In 1975, he wanted to put an art gallery in a commercial building designed by Jorge Arango at Northeast Second Avenue and 24th Street, a rough area in those days. Goldstein started to put clothes in the art gallery. He noticed women walking past the art to buy the clothes. Soon, The 24 Collection, drawing its name from the original address, opened in Bal Harbour Shops and introduced South Florida to Georgio Armani and Donna Karan before those names represented established style.
The store’s funky combination of items befit an owner who, Silverstein said, “would put together some arcane connection between things and say, ‘Isn’t the brain a wonderful thing?’ ”
Goldstein is survived by Silverstein; a sister, Blanche Ross; children, Patrick Goldstein and Amy Goldstein; stepchildren, Steven Silverstein, Joan Silverstein and Matthew Silverstein; and by seven grandchildren.
Services will be held at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom, Monday, at 11 am.