The Kennedys are having a tag sale!
The Kennedys are having a tag sale. The catalog arrived at my home via a surley bonded courier just before Thanksgiving.
Some of you may know I am something of a Kennedyphile. For those who don’t I’ll explain only that my fascination with all things Kennedy comes not from their political legacy, but from their image as a family. Whether the closeness and loyalty that was presented publicly was true in private, I don’t know and I really don’t care. Everyone is allowed one irrational obsession, and this is mine. Come on, it's the Kennedys.
In 1996 when Sotheby’s held the auction of Jackie’s estate, I was shocked and thrilled when I went through the catalog and saw the estimates. A strand of Jackie’s pearls, $500 -$700! Look, here’s a photograph of JohnJohn playing with them! A black enamel cigarette lighter, $300to $400! Of course I sent in absentee ballots, then waited while the value and the bids went sky high. (The pearls sold for $211,000, the lighter for $85,000.)
Again I’m shocked as I thumb through the catalog (thumb carefully! My soft cover catalog from the '96 sale is now worth upwards of $150 !) One item in particular grabs my attention and imagination: a late 19th c. chaise longue: “Upholstery torn and in very poor condition.” Estimate? $400 to $600. There is a beautifully lit, page-and-a-quarter photo of the chaise in all its shabby chic glory. The fabric is tattered and marbled with stains, and the ruffle that hung to the floor when it was in Mrs. Kennedy’s dressing room in the White House in 1963 (photo of that, too, for comparison, on the facing page) is gone, as is it’s lovely blue hue. Four to six hundred dollars? Come on, it's the Kennedys.
The catalog is filled with these ridiculous estimates. Yet, I can dream can’t I? The purchase of the catalog will perhaps entitle me to attend the presale exhibition of all the items, as all purchaser's names go into a lottery for that chance, and I will definitely try to get in to the auction. Who knows? I may end up paying way too much for some mismatched china or mason jars without lids. There’s also children’s toys, and some furniture that looks like it came from Pottery Barn. What looks like the lowest valued items: “two similar folding suitcase racks, mid 20th century."$50-$70; Louis Vuitton hat box, to put on your mid-century rack, $75. According to the catalog, for about ten grand you could outfit your home in Kennedy cast offs. Oh, but the provenance. According to Chapin Carson, a senior vice president at Sotheby's, "We never know. When we estimate things we don't add in any extra value for the provenance. That's sort of for the market and the buyers to decide.''
We never know? Come on Chapin, it's the Kennedys.