Designer Oleg Cassini’s estate to be auctioned
The estate of fashion designer Oleg Cassini, best known for creating Jacqueline Kennedy’s signature style as First Lady, will be auctioned June 27 in New York.
And, oh, what a treasure trove. The auction will include fashion memorabilia, clothing and accessories, autograph letters, luxury automobiles, arms and armor, artwork, Continental and English furniture, silver, decorations and more from the designer’s elegant Manhattan townhouse and from Moorelands, his lavish residence in Oyster Bay Cove on Long Island’s North Shore.
Cassini, the son of Russian aristocrats, grew up in Italy before immigrating in the 1930s to the United States and settling in New York. He served in the U.S. Cavalry during World War II and worked as a costume designer in Hollywood before returning to New York and establishing his designer label. His career-defining opportunity came in December 1960 when he was chosen by Jacqueline Kennedy to design her fashions for the White House. Cassini died in 2006.
The auction by Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers will be preceded by a three-day public exhibition June 22-24 at Moorelands, where all the property to be auctioned will be on view. Bidders and fans can see the catalogue and bid online at Doyle.com
Here’s a peek at a few of the auction items.
A Chronicle of Kennedy-era Fashions
Fashion memorabilia in the auction features several lots of original Kennedy-era design sketches by Mr. Cassini, as well as a detailed Cassini ledger with fabric samples dating from 1960-64 chronicling orders during the Kennedy White House years estimated at $500 to $800.
An important signed letter from Jacqueline Kennedy dated December 13, 1960 is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. Penned about one month following her husband's election as President, the detailed letter is entirely about fashion and aspects of the intimate and influential journey on which the two – Cassini and First Lady – are about to embark.
There's also a group of four signed letters from Grace Kelly, with whom Cassini was briefly engaged prior to her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The letters were written circa 1954-55, around the time of their engagement, and are estimated at $5,000 to $8,000. One letter closes with the statement, "I think I'd rather have a ring instead of an automobile. I love you."
Also offered are numerous lots of suits, coats, shoes, boots and accessories from Cassini's personal wardrobe.
Sophisticated Furniture, Decorations & Artwork
Cassini furnished his Manhattan townhouse and Oyster Bay Cove residence with English and Continental furniture, decorations and artwork. Highlights include a graceful circa 1720 George I giltwood and gilt-gesso pier table attributed to the Royal Cabinet Maker James Moore estimated at $30,000 to $50,000. A late 18th century Louis XVI ormolu-mounted burr olive and mahogany bureau à cylindre (cylinder desk) is attributed to Christophe-André Hache, a member of a renowned family of French cabinetmakers, estimate $12,000 to $18,000.,000. Adding color and whimsy is an extensive green-glazed ceramic cabbage-form service by Dodie Thayer estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. There’s also a portrait of his mother, Countess Marguerite Cassini, by Russian artist Constantin Makovsky (1839-1915) estimated at $1,000 to $3,000.
Antique Arms & Armor
Cassini assembled an impressive collection of six suits of armor highlighted by a rare Milanese 16th century example estimated at $30,000 to $40,000. This suit of armor and a second 16th century example in the Maximilian style estimated at $20,000 to $30,000 were both in the collection of Lord Astor in England's Hever Castle.
The auction offers four luxury automobiles including an ivory 1987 Rolls Royce Silver Spur estimated at $8,000 to $12,000 and a sporty red 2004 Mercedes SL500 with the Cassini crest estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.