On the block: JFK's gee-gaws up for bid

Furniture, artwork, and knickknacks from the homes of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will be auctioned in February, Sotheby's announced Tuesday, December 7.

The auction, to be held February 15-17, is more modest than a 1996 Kennedy auction at Sotheby's that brought in $34.5 million, including $2.5 million for an engagement ring from Aristotle Onassis. The latest auction features some 600 lots including art, books, and photographs.

Many items have presale estimates as low as $200, though the Kennedy mystique could drive prices up.

"We never know,'' said Chapin Carson, a senior vice president at Sotheby's. "When we estimate things, we don't add in any extra value for the provenance. That's sort of for the market and the buyers to decide.''

The property was consigned by Caroline Kennedy, who in an introduction to the catalog says she has given everything of historical significance to the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and kept the things that mean the most to her and her children. She says a portion of the auction proceeds will go to the library foundation and other charities.

The auction includes furniture from the private family quarters of the White House as well as from the Kennedy and Onassis homes in New York City; Hyannis Port, Massachusetts; Martha's Vineyard; Peapack, New Jersey; and Middleburg.

A 1910-1911 oil painting by Augustus John, "Portrait of the Artist's Wife Dorelia Before a Banner," from the Martha's Vineyard house, carries a presale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. A 1968 portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy with her two children that was painted in the living room of their Fifth Avenue apartment is estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.

Several items reflect her love of riding, including horse blankets, bits, a bridle, and various equestrian artworks.

The property will be exhibited at Sotheby's Manhattan galleries February 9-14.