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Brooke Astor’s Art, Jewelry And Furnishings To Be Auctioned Off For Charity

Brooke Astor on December 17, 2002. (file/credit: Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images)

Brooke Astor on December 17, 2002. (file/credit: Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Some pricey and rare collectibles are going up on the auction block.

All the contents of two homes that belonged to philanthropist and socialite Brooke Astor will be sold at Sotheby’s beginning Monday.

Astor’s 14-room Park Avenue duplex and country estate, Holly Hill, in Briarcliff Manor have been cleared out of a total of 901 items, including European and Asian furnishings, Old Masters, Qing Dynasty paintings, tea sets, silverware, jewelry, a porcelain menagerie, over 100 dog paintings and even the uniforms of her domestic staff.

In keeping with Astor’s wishes and life’s motto that “money is like manure; it should be spread around,” all the proceeds from the sale will go to the institutions and causes she supported.

They include what she called the city’s crown jewels – the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Zoo, Central Park, plus the Animal Medical Center of New York, New York City’s public schools and charities in Maine.

Sotheby’s will auction off the goods on Monday and Tuesday and expect to fetch $6 million to $9 million for the full collection.

“This is a woman who surrounded herself with the things that she loved,” said Elaine Whitmire, vice chairman of Sotheby’s single-owner collections. “You can see it in the upholstery, you can see it in the porcelain that she used, floral, animal and Asian-inspired.”

Astor died in 2007 at the age of 105 but her estate remained in limbo over a nasty family feud involving her only son, Anthony Marshall.

The five-year dispute ended in March with a settlement that freed $100 million for her charities and cut by more than half the amount going to Marshall, who was convicted of taking advantage of his mother’s dementia, partly by engineering changes to her will. He has appealed.

Among the items expected to bring one of the highest bids is an Imperial Chinese gilt-bronze lion clock estimated at $180,000 to $220,000.

A diamond and emerald necklace is one of dozens of pieces of jewelry up for auction.

The necklace’s stones were selected by Astor’s third husband Vincent in 1958. Sotheby’s estimates the necklace will bring $250,000 to $350,000.

Astor is pictured in the auction catalog wearing the pieces while chatting with President Lyndon Johnson at a dinner dance in his honor at the Plaza Hotel in 1969.

But not everything in the sale is for deep-pocketed buyers. A group of four large white tin-glazed earthenware hounds and a figure of a reclining tiger, for example, carry a pre-sale estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. Two needlepoint pictures are estimated at $200 to $300.

Will you check out the auction this week at Sotheby’s? Share your comments below…

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