Buy your­self a piece of Rea­gan

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

FROM cow­boy boots to a chunk of the Ber­lin Wall and a jar of jelly beans: An auc­tion of Ron­ald Rea­gan mem­o­ra­bilia of­fers a tan­ta­liz­ing glimpse into the pri­vate world of a US con­ser­va­tive icon.

Hun­dreds of items from the 40th pres­i­dent’s White House res­i­dence and the Bel Air home he shared with wife Nancy un­til his death in 2004 go on sale in New York next week and are ex­pected to fetch US$2 mil­lion.

From up­hol­stered fur­nish­ings to me­men­tos of his Hol­ly­wood ca­reer and a mono­grammed din­ner ser­vice, the more than 700 lots in­clude gifts from no­ta­bles such as Frank Si­na­tra and Mar­garet Thatcher.

In­ter­est in the sale is likely to be high just six weeks be­fore Amer­i­cans go to the polls to elect either Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton or Repub­li­can ri­val Don­ald Trump in a deeply di­vi­sive race that has left many Repub­li­cans more nos­tal­gic than ever for the late pres­i­dent.

Crit­ics to­day may root much of to­day’s in­come in­equal­ity in Reaganomics, but for many on the right it was an era when Amer­i­can power seemed un­chal­lenged, be­fore the un­cer­tain­ties of the post-9/11 era and the 2008 re­ces­sion.

The col­lec­tion went on dis­play at Christie’s showroom in New York over the week­end. An on­line auc­tion be­gins to­day, fol­lowed by a live auc­tion on Septem­ber 21 and 22.

Gemma Sud­low, head of pri­vate and iconic col­lec­tions at the auc­tion house in New York, said the col­lec­tion was a bi­og­ra­phy of sorts of Rea­gan and his wife, who died ear­lier this year at 94.

“It was an in­cred­i­bly warm home,” Sud­low told AFP. “One re­ally got the sense that it was filled with fur­ni­ture that they had had for al­most their entire mar­ried life. There was a mod­esty to it, there was a sim­ple el­e­gance to it.”

A marine chronome­ter, from Frank Si­na­tra and his wife, is en­graved with “Good Morn­ing Mr Pres­i­dent” and ded­i­cated “Love Fran­cis and Bar­bara”. It is ex­pected to fetch $5000 to 10,000 on the auc­tion block.

Fans of Mar­garet Thatcher, Bri­tain’s first woman prime min­is­ter, may want to bid for “his ‘n’ her” sil­ver beakers – en­graved R and N – and each in­scribed “With love, from Mar­garet and De­nis Thatcher”.

Pa­tri­ots and his­to­ri­ans may han­ker af­ter a piece of the Ber­lin Wall, which Ber­lin­ers tore down af­ter he left the pres­i­dency and fol­low­ing his fa­mous 1987 ex­hor­ta­tion to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev to “tear down this wall”. Weigh­ing nearly 20 pounds (9 kilo­grams), the chunk is signed by Rea­gan and val­ued at $10,000 to $20,000.

It was bought back to the United States by a mem­ber of the White House staff and pre­sented as a gift to the for­mer pres­i­dent, Sud­low said.

An­other star lot is a pair of cow­boy boots made of ostrich, cowhide and frog skin, hand-tooled in 14-carat gold, dec­o­rated with the pres­i­den­tial seal and val­ued at $10,000 to $20,000.

They were one of four pairs pre­sented to Rea­gan in 1980 by ac­tor and “sing­ing cow­boy” Rex Allen. Cus­tom-made, Rea­gan never wore them, leav­ing the boots in im­pec­ca­ble con­di­tion.

Those short on fur­ni­ture could splash out $3,000 to $5,000 on flo­ral arm­chairs – or per­haps bid for one or two din­ing ta­bles that the Rea­gans used when not in­dulging their fond­ness for eat­ing on TV din­ner trays.

An­other stand­out is a Chi­nese screen, orig­i­nally a gift from the Chi­nese premier and one of Nancy’s par­tic­u­lar favourites.

Sud­low said the sale of­fered “some­thing for every­one”. The cheap­est lot is a set of bar nap­kins start­ing at $200. There is also a fun col­lec­tion of ac­ces­sories from the pres­i­dent’s desk, in­clud­ing a jar of his beloved candy, jelly beans.

But the most ex­pen­sive lot is a gold and di­a­mond neck­lace val­ued at up to $50,000, which Nancy wore dur­ing a state visit to Bri­tain in 1988.

Re­put­edly one of her favourite pieces of jew­elry – the pen­dant dou­bles up as a brooch – the neck­lace can be short­ened into two or di­vided into four bracelets.

Fur­ther tes­ta­ment to her ex­trav­a­gance, which at times fanned con­tro­versy, is a di­a­mond, sap­phire and ruby ring made to look like the US flag and a croc­o­dile Her­mes hand­bag val­ued at $10,000 to $15,000.

There are plenty of or­na­men­tal ele­phants – the em­blem of the Repub­li­can Party – and porce­lain ea­gles – cen­tral to the pres­i­den­tial seal.

“There’s a real sense of fun and play­ful­ness in some of the as­pects of the dec­o­ra­tion,” Sud­low said.

Photo: AFP

A pair of Ron­ald Rea­gan’s cow­boy boots sits in a case at Christie’s where items from the for­mer pres­i­dent and Nancy Rea­gan’s Cal­i­for­nia home are be­ing auc­tioned.

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