The last time Caroline Kennedy put family heirlooms on the Sotheby’s block, in 1996, bids moved in thousand-dollar increments. The lots on offer February 15—wicker baskets, table linens—have the air of a tag sale, so we asked a Kennedy expert, an antiques dealer, an eBay pro, and a museum curator to sift through for hidden gems. Sotheby’s calculates the intrinsic value of each item; while there’s no accounting for Kennedy fever, we made an educated guess at the markup conferred by the family name.
Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at F.I.T.
Sally Bedell Smith, author of Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House.
Lynn Dralle, co-author of How to Sell Antiques and Collectibles on eBay … and Make a Fortune.
Guy Regal, art and antique dealer, owner of Guy Regal Ltd.
William Walton, Old State; William Walton, Statue of Andrew Jackson on Horseback
“Bill Walton was an extremely close friend of Jack and Jackie. He taught JFK how to paint. These pen-and-ink drawings were birthday gifts to JFK on his 46th and, as it turned out, last birthday. Walton gave them to him aboard the Sequoia, during an incredibly raucous party. The statue of Jackson is sort of saluting JFK; in a wonderful letter to Walton, Jackie likens it to a Leonardo. They hung them in the west sitting hall in the White House, where they kept things they loved most.” —S.B.S.
Sotheby’s estimate: $700–$900 and $500–$700, respectively
Hammer price: $30,000 and $35,000
Copeland, Spode “Italian Pattern” Part Service, Late-Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
“You can’t find this Spode pattern in blue and white. I’ve never seen a china toast rack like that, and there are four! It will be hard to replace the teapot lids, though.” —L.D.
“I remember at the end of the last auction, Nancy Tuckerman, who worked for Jackie for many years, said, ‘I’d like to see how the books from her library would do; that’s what she cared about, not some plate.’ ” —S.B.S.
Sotheby’s estimate: $3,000–$5,000
Hammer price: $8,000
A Chippendale Maple Serpentine-Front Game Table
“This is the only moderately good piece of furniture. It goes well with modernist pieces, too.” —V.S.
“So much of the furniture was bought by Joe Kennedy. They must have been in the Hyannis house and probably didn’t have much of an emotional connection to either Jack or Jackie. In the 1996 auction, there was one infamous tattered little stool estimated at $100 to $150. It sold for $29,000.” —S.B.S.
Sotheby’s estimate: $3,000–$4,000
Hammer price: $9,000
Silver-Topped Gold, Sapphire, and Diamond Flower Brooch
“This is really stunning, and the diamonds are superior. It’s a lovely Art Nouveau–ish piece. Brooches will come back again.” —V.S.
“You don’t know the grading, the stone size, the color. Ask for a condition report, and ask for the date.” —G.R.
Sotheby’s estimate: $12,000–$15,000
Hammer price: $18,000
Original Painted Celluloid from 101 Dalmatians
“You’ve got Walt’s signature and the dedication to John-John, which makes this priceless. It’s one of the sleepers in the sale, and it’s going to go very, very strong. This is one of the ultimates for a collector.” —G.R.
Sotheby’s estimate: $4,000–$6,000
Hammer price: $30,000
Two Sandwich Starch-Blue-Glass Dolphin-Form Candlesticks
“This pattern was knocked off in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, but if they’re from the Shea collection (acquired by Caroline Kennedy’s grandfather), they’re antique.” —L.D. “A great pair goes for $800 or $900, and that’s minus the Kennedy factor.” —G.R.
Sotheby’s estimate: $250–$350
Hammer price: $1,500
Louis XV Gold-and-Enamel Snuffbox, circa 1765
“This is from the period that Jackie loved, and it’s the sort of beautiful object she’d be very, very fond of.” —S.B.S.
“From 1680 through the mid-nineteenth century, snuffboxes were an important status symbol. They’re so collectible. An 1857 gold-plated one sold for $3,200 on eBay.” —L.D.
Sotheby’s estimate: $8,000–$12,000
Hammer price: $16,000
Jacqueline Duhême, Resting Up, London, March 26, 1962
“This is a gem. Duhême was a French artist who met Jackie during their trip to Paris in 1961. They sell note cards of her prints at the Kennedy library. Jackie loved her paintings, perhaps because they reminded her of her own style. In this watercolor, Jackie is resting in London, and her nephew Anthony appears at the door. Anthony was one of John Jr.’s best friends; not long after that horrible plane crash, he died of cancer.” —S.B.S.
Sotheby’s estimate: $500–$700
Hammer price: $18,000
“Coolers are blankets to throw on horses after you’ve been riding. They’re used and faded; without the monogram, they’re valueless. With it, the sky’s the limit. What can you say—they’re Jackie’s horse blankets! Horse people are going to go crazy over these.” —G.R.
Sotheby’s estimate: $100–$150
Hammer price: $5,000
Charles Addams, Fanciful Victorian House by the Shore
“This captures Jackie’s sense of whimsy. Charles Addams was a cartoonist for The New Yorker, and he must have drawn this house to resemble Jackie’s at Hammersmith Farm, in Newport, where she grew up; it was a rambling house with turrets that overlooked the sea. Color Addams prints are rare, and it’s inscribed, so that will dramatically affect the price.” —S.B.S.
Sotheby’s estimate: $7,000–$9,000
Hammer price: $21,000
Khmer Gray Sandstone Torso of a Goddess
“Unquestionably the most important objet here. This stuff can no longer be imported. Historically speaking, it’s quite tragic, because of the destruction of Cambodia and Angkor Wat. This is museum-quality.” —V.S.
“Jackie may have acquired this during her travels to Cambodia and Thailand with her close friend David Ormsby Gore, the British ambassador during the Kennedy years.” —S.B.S.
Sotheby’s estimate: $40,000–$60,000
Hammer price: $150,000
A Gold, White, and Red-Coral Pencil, Schlumberger
“I would just love to pull this out of my purse. It’s got this modified bamboo motif, and it’s just a kind of witty, elegantly designed object. Adorable. And a little mod, too.” —V.S.
“Jean Schlumberger designed for Tiffany for two decades. A Schlumberger sapphire ring sold on eBay this month for $20,000.” —L.D.
Sotheby’s estimate: $1,500–$2,000
Hammer price: $4,000
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF SOTHEBY’S