NEW YORK, Sept 23 — Fans of Ronald Reagan splashed out nearly US$6 million (RM24.64 million) on items owned by the former US president and his wife Nancy during a New York auction that fetched nearly three times its estimate, Christie’s said yesterday.
The top lot was a diamond, sapphire and ruby ring fashioned like the US flag and worn by Nancy Reagan on Independence Day 1986. It sold for a whopping US$319,500 — way over its US$5,000 to US$8,000 estimate, the auction house said.
A piece of the Berlin Wall given to and signed by Reagan sold for US$277,500, a painting by Frank Sinatra fetched US$233,500 and a pair of bespoke cowboy boots decorated with the presidential seal went for US$199,500.
The public sale of hundreds of items from the 40th president’s White House residence and Bel Air home offered a tantalising glimpse into the private world of a US conservative icon, who died in 2004.
Initially expecting the sale to raise US$2 million, Christie’s announced sales in excess of US$5.7 million.
Interest in the sale was sky-high just weeks before Americans go to the polls to elect either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in a deeply divisive race that has left many Republicans more nostalgic for the late president than ever.
Critics blame much of today’s income inequality on Reaganomics, but many on the right believe the former president represented an era when American power seemed unchallenged, before the uncertainties of the post 9/11 era and the 2008 recession.
The lots included gifts from notables such as Sinatra.
A marine chronometre from the singer and his wife, engraved “Good Morning Mr President” and dedicated “Love Francis and Barbara” sold for US$106,250 — having been valued pre-sale at US$5,000-US$10,000.
The Berlin Wall came down after Reagan’s presidency following his famous 1987 plea to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!”
The chunk sold was bought to the United States by a member of the White House staff and presented as a gift to the former president, Christie’s said. It was valued at US$10,000 to US$20,000.
The cowboy boots — made of ostrich, cowhide and frog skin, and hand-tooled in 14 carat gold -- had also been valued at US$10,000 to US$20,000.
They were one of four pairs presented to Reagan in 1980 by the “singing cowboy” actor Rex Allen. Reagan never wore the custom-made boots, leaving them in impeccable condition.
A parallel online auction, which opened on Monday, runs through September 28. — AFP