On a quest to find a 1987 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur? Seeking a 16th century suit of armor? Perhaps a handwritten letter from Jacqueline Kennedy will sate your collector’s lust? You’ll find all of these — and much more — at an auction of the estate of the late fashion designer Oleg Cassini. An open-to-the-public preview is scheduled to run June 22-24 at Moorelands, Cassini’s opulent 43.5-acre estate and mansion in Oyster Bay Cove.
Items include clothing, accessories, letters from the designer’s famous clients and friends, artwork, furniture and silver from Cassini’s Long Island manse and from his Manhattan townhouse in Gramercy Park. The physical auction will be held at Doyle Auctioneers and Appraisers in Manhattan on June 27. Bidders can also participate online. Instructions and a full catalog are posted on the auctioneer’s website, doyle.com.
Cassini, who died in 2006 at the age of 92, may be best known for helping to define Jacqueline Kennedy’s signature fashion style. Auction items include the then-First Lady’s nine-page letter to Cassini that's expected to fetch $10,000-$15,000. “She was a spectacular, created comet,” Cassini told Newsday in 2001.
But his life was colorful beyond the Kennedys. The grandson of a Russian-Italian count, he was a notorious playboy, linked to some of the most beautiful women in the world, including Marilyn Monroe. A series of letters for sale here from Grace Kelly, to whom he was briefly engaged before she married Prince Rainier, included one that closes with this statement, "I think I'd rather have a ring instead of an automobile. I love you."
“The auction marries a celebrity life with Cassini’s life in fashion along with his life as a true connoisseur and collector,” says Louis Webre, Doyle’s senior vice president of marketing and media.
Some of the priciest items include a circa 1720 George I gilded wood and gilt-gesso pier table attributed to the Royal Cabinet Maker James Moore and estimated at $30,000-$50,000, and a suit of three quarter etched and gold embellished armor estimated at $30,000 -$40,000. A detailed Cassini ledger with fabric samples dating from 1960-1964 chronicling orders during the Kennedy White House years is estimated at $500-$800.
Not everything is in that league.
There are well-worn garden furniture sets, housewares, framed prints and other home decor items valued as low as $20, meaning it's entirely possible for the average garage sale bargain-hunter to scoop up a piece of Cassini's legacy. Here's a look at some items in the auction:
A 2004 Mercedes SL500 Convertible with white leather interior and Cassini crest and name decals (estimated at $10,000-$15,000). One thing that’s not for sale: the Italian Renaissance style mansion and property. The place was originally listed last year for $19.5 million. It is now reduced to $13.5 million and is under contract, according to Phillip Laffey of Laffey Real Estate.
A collection of seven pair of men’s footwear, including Fratelli Rossetti and Ferragamo white tassel suede loafers, are valued at $100-$150.
A pair of white painted metal garden benches are valued at $150-$250.
A group of nine men’s jackets and blazers (estimated at $200-$300) will be auctioned in a single lot.
A painted gilt four-post bed (estimated $500-$700).
A collection of Oleg Cassini gowns from the late designer’s estate will be auctioned, including a replica of the black and mustard gown worn by Jackie Kennedy at a 1961 gala.
A suit of three-quarter etched and gold-embellished armor estimated at $30,000-$40,000.
A fiery red 2004 Mercedes SL500 convertible emblazoned with the Cassini crest (estimated at $10,000-$15,000).
Signed fashion sketch titled “Mrs. Kennedy-Palais de Versailles-State Dinner" is valued at $800-$1,200.
A whimsical 82-piece set of ceramic cabbage-shaped dishware by Dodie Thayer is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
Nine-page signed letter to Oleg Cassini signed by Jacqueline Kennedy in advance of presidential inauguration, estimated at $10,000-$15,000.