A Tiffany clock. A Bulgari gold and diamond bangle. Two Grandma Moses paintings.
These are just a few of the 2,000 items that were once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and went on display Friday in London in preparation for an auction in the fall.
The collection — comprised mostly of furniture, silver, china, jewelry, porcelain and other keepsakes — comes from the Reagans' Bel Air home. The former president and first lady moved to the house after he left office in 1988 and remained there until their deaths.
Richard Nelson of Christie's, where the auction is being held, spent two weeks in the home, preparing it to be packed and shipped for sale. He says the auction is notable for the intimate window it offers on the Reagans' lives.
"In spite of the incredible lives these people had and living on the world stage, this house had never been photographed, because they were so private about it," Nelson told KPCC.
According to Nelson, many of the furniture pieces and keepsakes had belonged to the Reagans since Ronald Reagan's time as governor of California. After that, the items moved to their Pacific Palisades home, and later to the White House.
"They took all their furniture from that house to Washington and used it in the family quarters on the second and third floor of the White House," Nelson said. "The sofas that we'll be selling, we've got photos of them in the governor's mansion in California, and then on second floor of the White House with the princess of Wales and Prince Charles sitting on them. And then they were moved back to California, reupholstered in the same fabric, and they look very much as they did then."
He describes their style as California casual elegant: "The [Bel Air] house wasn't filled with formal French furniture that you wouldn't get comfortable on. You will see photos in the catalog of Mrs. Reagan sitting on chairs or sofas, and she would kick her shoes off."
The items have been split into 800 lots. Between 250 and 300 of these lots will be sold at Christie’s New York on Sept. 21 and 22, while the rest will be sold in an online auction.
"You really get to see how these people lived and what they chose to live with and how important sentimental things were to them," Nelson said.