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An auction fit for a president

Caramie SchnellVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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BEAVER CREEK Four slightly worn pairs of golf shoes, a blue and white satin Dodgers jacket, an ornate Nepalese carving given by the King and Queen of Nepal and four baseball caps including one that reads Camp David Attitude. What do these seemingly disjointed items have in common? They all belonged to former President Gerald R. Ford and his wife, Betty, and theyre part of more than 500 items from the couples Beaver Creek residence being auctioned off July 7.Beth Slifer, owner of Edwards based interior design firm, Slifer Designs, is close friends with Betty. Last fall, as the Fords were preparing to sell their Beaver Creek residence, Slifer received a call from Betty, asking for advice on what to do with some of the items in the house that neither her and Gerald, nor their children, had room for.I told her I would hate just to have you dispose of them. How do you feel about auctioning them off to raise money for the O.K. Corral camp? Slifer said.Betty was a little wary at first, Slifer said.Shes very private and she wasnt sure if she wanted the public to see specific things or be involved in the personal effects, but then she realized there was an opportunity to raise money for charity, Slifer said.

The auction will raise money for three organizations important to the Fords the O.K. Corral, a camp for sick or disabled children set to open near Dotsero in 2010; The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens; and the Eagle River Scholarship Fund, the charity that benefited from the Gerald R. Ford Invitational golf tournament for many years, Slifer said.It should be an exciting auction. Almost everything is something that would be an attractive accessory in anyones home. Whether its a glass eagle, a platter, a ski jacket or a sofa, it all has those personal and historic values, Slifer said.Auction events are spread out over three days a Benefit Preview Party will take place on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Village Hall in Beaver Creek. The $150 ticket will provide people the opportunity to pre-bid on live auction items and also get first buying dibs on the smaller items for sale in the Small Treasures room. On Friday, all live auction items will be available for preview from noon-8 p.m., and the Small Treasures room, filled with smaller keepsake items priced between $20 and $200, will be open. The Small Treasures room will appeal to those people in the valley who may not want to participate in the live auction but wish to bring home a memory of President and Mrs. Ford, wrote event organizer Jeri Campisi in an e-mail.The live auction will take place on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. Guernseys, an auction house based in New York City, will host the auction. Each item, whether from the live auction or small treasures room, will have a label on it that reads from the residence of President and Mrs. Ford.Our mission has been to have an elegant event to honor the memory of President Ford and to thank the Ford Family for all they have done for the Vail Valley, Campisi wrote.

Much of the furniture from the Fords home will also be auctioned off, though it will not be at Village Hall during the auction, but at the Alliance Moving Systems Warehouse near the airport in Eagle. The warehouse will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on July 2, 3, and 5 for public viewing of the furniture. A Power Point presentation of the pieces will be shown at the live auction, Knapp said. The majority of furniture thats left came from the guest bedrooms and were slept on by Henry Kissinger and the French president to name a few. Many international, world leaders visited and stayed in the Fords house over the last 20 plus years, Slifer said.Alison Knapp, founder of the O.K. Corral Camp, spent time at the Fords Beaver Creek residence, helping to organize and catalog all the auction items, she said. Among the golf clubs, skis, tennis rackets, serving platters and Christmas ornaments, one thing in particular caught Knapps eye.Youre going to give away my secret, huh? Knapp joked. Well, personally, I am very interested in the plate that Vice President Rockafeller gave to President Ford when he became president. I think thats pretty special.Elephants are another prevalent theme in the auction items stone, bronze and ceramic elephants that are jeweled, trumpeting or even bowing. Youll see elephants everywhere because of the Republican party, Knapp said.Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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