Former US first couple's gifts to be shown in London

The Reagans aboard a boat in a 1964 photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
The Reagans aboard a boat in a 1964 photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Personal effects owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, including gifts from Frank Sinatra and Margaret Thatcher, are to go on display in London on Friday before being offered for auction.

Reagan, who died in 2004, has become one of the most revered modern US presidents. When his widow Nancy died in March, Hollywood stars and political powerbrokers attended her funeral in California.

Christie's is auctioning items from the couple's personal collection in New York on September 21-22, including jewellery, art, books and furnishings from their Los Angeles home and their time at the White House.

Items to go on view in London include a diamond and gold lion necklace, valued at US$30,000-50,000 (S$40,362-67,270), and matching ear clips worth US$15,000-20,000, which Nancy Reagan wore on a state visit to Britain in 1988.

Also earmarked for display is a US$5,000-10,000 marine chronometer, which Sinatra and his wife had engraved with "Good Morning Mr President" and dedicated "Love Francis and Barbara" for his inauguration in 1981.

Christie's said it would also display a US$1,000-2,000 pair of Elizabeth II silver beakers inscribed "With love, from Margaret and Denis Thatcher." Britain's first woman prime minister, who was already in power when Reagan took office, was arguably his closet foreign ally.

Some of the Reagans' American, English and Chinese furnishings will go on view in New York before the September 21-22 sale, Christie's said.

The auction house valued individual lots from US$1,000 to US$50,000 and expects the auction to fetch more than US$2 million. All proceeds will go to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

Ronald Reagan served from 1981-89 and oversaw the end of the Cold War nuclear stand-off between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Berlin Wall came down in the final months of his presidency, and Reagan presided over a period of US economic growth that made him the darling of the Republican Party establishment.