Sinatra’s shirt may steal the spotlight in New Year’s antique auction

ORANGE, Calif. – Frank Sinatra’s custom-made tuxedo shirt, Michael Jackson’s gilt-bronze clock and a stellar array of antiques and fine art awaits bidders in Don Presley Auctions’ Jan. 1-2 sale. Approximately 600 lots will be offered, with the contents ranging from antique ivory and exceptional bronzes to Liberace’s opulent fountains and an ensemble said to have been the property of Marilyn Monroe.

The company’s tradition of conducting an auction on New Year’s Day goes back 30 years, and according to Presley, the event is always a huge success, “no matter what day of the week January 1st falls on.”

Presley’s sales are known for their select consignments from luxury homes and estates around southern California and as far afield as Alaska and New York City. “Many items come to us from the East Coast specifically for the New Year’s sale because the consignors know we have a large following of California buyers as well as bidders worldwide via the Internet,” Presley said.

The upcoming sale features several lots with a Hollywood connection. A tuxedo shirt made by Beverly Hills men’s clothier Nat Wise for the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra, is an auction entry with quite a story behind it. “The shirt was purchased by the consignor, Rick Gorski, for $5 at a neighbor’s yard sale in Newport Beach, California,” Presley explained. “Mr. Gorski had the shirt authenticated by Jack Sepetjian, whose company merged with Nat Wise in 1987. Sepetjian was able to trace the shirt, which has Sinatra’s name on a shirttail label, through records in the company archive. The shirt’s measurements precisely matched the ones on record for Sinatra.” The $5 yard sale discovery, which Sinatra had worn to a 1988 benefit concert, was subsequently written about in newspapers all over the world. “We have no clue how much it will sell for, so we’ve estimated it at $10-$1,000,” Presley said.

Another “star” lot in the auction is the two-piece eyelet-trimmed sleeveless blouse and skirt purported to have been the property of Marilyn Monroe. The all-black ensemble previously belonged to Robert Slatzer, the late Hollywood biographer and newspaper reporter who claimed he and Monroe were wed in 1952. Till the time of his demise, Slatzer insisted his story was true and asserted that studio bosses had forced him and Monroe to annul their union only days after exchanging vows in Mexico. The ensemble has an interior label from 20th Century Fox, the studio to which Monroe was signed at the time of the alleged wedding. It is accompanied by a letter Slatzer wrote to the consignor, who had accepted the Monroe outfit as collateral for a loan Slatzer reportedly never paid back. The auction estimate is $10-$1,000. Other Monroe auction items include a silk jewelry pouch and a hankie monogrammed “MM.”

With prices for Michael Jackson memorabilia continuing to soar, Presley believes pop culture fans will bid aggressively on an 1880s French white marble and dore bronze clock that once kept time in the King of Pop’s Beverly Hills home. The luxe Emile Vie & Co. timepiece is offered with a copy of the bill of sale bearing Jackson’s name.

Continuing in the show-business theme, Don Presley Auctions will offer approximately one dozen items from the residence of flamboyant pianist Liberace. Within the selection are three signed patinated-bronze fountains on stone bases that were owned by the Eastman Kodak Foundation before being acquired by the late entertainer.

Several beautiful bronzes highlight the sale roster, including several by Carl Kauba (Austrian, 1865-1922). His signed bronze interpretation of a cavalry soldier descending a mountain on a bucking horse is titled Desperado, and appears in a reference book about the artist. Two other circa-1900 Kauba works set to cross the auction block are known as “naughties” and depict women who disrobe.

Perhaps the finest bronze in the sale is L. Gregoire’s La Defense du Drapeau. Standing 37 inches tall and of solid bronze, the artwork depicts two soldiers – one of whom points a pistol as he carries away a wounded troop holding a flag and a sword.

A large selection of ivory will be auctioned, including elaborately carved Canton tusks, a German Falstaff, figures of Asian immortals, and many other artworks with estimates from $1,000 to $18,000 for the larger pieces. Highlights include an impressive ivory bust of an exalted woman on a wood stand, and a finely crafted pagoda (estimate $5,000-$6,000).

The silver category is topped by a dated and hallmarked 1861 Stephen Smith and William Nicholson (English) tray, and a superb Faberge-style Austrian jeweled and enameled troika with driver. Additionally, several solid silver framed Russian icons will be sold.

Of the furniture to be auctioned, the centerpiece is surely the Austrian cabinet on slant-front desk decorated with more than 100 uniquely painted enamel-on-copper plaques. Its design and exquisite adornments suggest certain design similarities to the celebrated Badminton Cabinet – the world’s most expensive piece of furniture.

Made around 1885, a fascinating mechanical object in the sale is the bronze and ivory spinning wheel crafted with the precision of a fine watch. “At first I thought it was a salesman’s sample,” said Don Presley. “It’s a great English instrument. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Also to be auctioned are 20 paintings, including a genre scene attributed to Eugene Delacroix (French, 1798-1865); KPM, Sevres and other porcelain; boulle, a pair of fine blackamoors, an extraordinary circa-1900 bronze chandelier featuring five elephants with genuine ivory “tusks,” 30 to 40 outstanding clocks, art glass and antique jade, some of it approximately 2,000 years old.

All forms of bidding will be available for the auction, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers or Proxibid. For additional information contact the gallery or call 714-633-2437.

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