NEW YORK — Nothing says Jackie O like a strand of pearls, and no one knows that better than Sotheby’s, the auction house that is all spruced up for next week’s Kennedy family sale.
A triple-strand of costume pearls owned by the former first lady is among 23 jewelry lots that will be up for grabs at the auction house from Tuesday to Thursday. Starting today, would-be buyers and the curious can check out these pieces and other personal belongings in finely appointed rooms designed to resemble the ones lived in by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Hyannisport, Mass.; Martha’s Vineyard; Manhattan; New Jersey, and Virginia.
All those table linens, decorative plates, antiques and finery — a total of 600 lots — are expected to ring up more than $1 million. The 1996 Jackie O sale at Sotheby’s generated $34.5 million. At $2 million, her Van Cleef & Arpels engagement ring from Aristotle Onassis was the top lot.
To create a lived-in feel, William Rush Jenkins designed the rooms with fireplace facades, crown molding, replica wallpaper and vases with flowers. He also set the scene for the Bill Blass and Katharine Hepburn sales at Sotheby’s, and is preparing for Lulu Guinness’ to be staged at Sotheby’s next month.
For the Kennedy auction, Jenkins took 2,500 linear feet of books and placed them in bookcases and small stacks on coffee tables throughout the galleries. By using velvet ropes to keep bidders at a distance, he was able to use linens, china and small decorative pieces — items that typically would not be displayed for security reasons.
Sotheby’s anticipates that 350 people an hour will pass through the residential-looking galleries. More than 40,000 checked out the 1996 sale.
For this go-round, jewelry and Louis Vuitton luggage should reel in the bids, as well as the curious. To play up the Camelot factor, seldom-seen candid photos of the former first family at play are featured on scrims throughout the galleries.
“People are still enthralled by the legend of Jackie,’’ who died of cancer in May 1994, said Kenneth Jay Lane, who designed a gilt-metal and paste brooch that is part of the sale. “At least you could wear something that was Jackie’s.”Lane created this variation of the Maltese cross in the late Sixties, when he wrote “Faking It.” Listed in the Sotheby’s catalogue for $50, his piece is still offered in his collection for $200 at retail. But Lane recalled how he “almost fell off his chair” when 38 of his designs rang up $1 million at the 1996 sale.
There is interest in a silver-topped gold, sapphire and diamond flower brooch with an asking price of $12,000; a black velvet diamond, coral and emerald Cartier purse starting at $3,000, and a coral and diamond Van Cleef & Arpels girl brooch starting at $1,200, said Chairpin Carson, senior vice president at Sotheby’s. A gold, white and red coral Schlumberger pencil starting at, $1,500; a Fabergé miniature frame, $15,000, and a Louis XV gold and enamel snuffbox, $8,000, also have generated some buzz, Carson said.
A Louis Vuitton briefcase, hatbox and suitcase are anticipated to draw some spirited bidding, as was the case at last year’s Hepburn sale, when a trunk went for $16,800. The Kennedy pieces should go “way over their estimates,” said Hugh Hildesley, executive vice president of Sotheby’s.
A lot of four books about couture, including two inscribed by Hubert de Givenchy and another by Valentino, also are being sold, starting at $100 to $200. The latter includes a chapter titled “La First Lady,” featuring Jackie O.
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