Ford auction to include hidden treasures, everyday items

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Local organizations to benefit from “gift to Coachella Valley”

President and Mrs. Ford
President and Mrs. Ford. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

PALM DESERT, November 7, 2013—Organizers of the November 16 charity auction of items from the Rancho Mirage home of President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford got a pleasant surprise this week.

“During our inventory of auction items, we found in what we thought was a collection of costume jewelry a Cartier 18 carat gold brooch with a .4 karat high-quality diamond,” said Larry Zuker, co-founder of the Gavel Group, the charity auction company in Lake Forest, California that will oversee the event. “With the help of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, we have discovered that it was given to First Lady Betty Ford in 1976, when she was named a Woman of the Year by Ladies Home Journal.” The brooch, made in the shape of the letter W, is hand-engraved with Mrs. Ford’s name and the name of the honor she was given.

The auction at which the brooch and approximately 1000 other items will be sold takes place from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa. In keeping with the Ford’s wishes, the proceeds will benefit the Betty Ford Center, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley, and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. The event is open to the public for $5 cash payment at the door.

The auction begins at 9 a. m. with a sale of small “miscellaneous mementoes” and a silent auction of glassware and housewares, apparel, golf memorabilia and art, furniture and elephants from the Ford’s extensive collection of decorative sculptured elephants. The silent auction will continue until 3 p. m.

At 12:55 p. m., Boy Scouts from Troop 131 at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church will present the colors. A live auction will begin at 1 p. m. and include the Cartier brooch and eleven other items:  a hand carved elephant brooch of 18 karat gold and cultured pearl; a limited edition Faberge egg, licensed by House of Faberge; Mrs. Ford’s personal wood desk with filing cabinet drawers; The First Lady clothing collection, including Dior, Ferragamo and St. John suits and blazers; President Ford’s golf clubs and bag; a set of four sweaters embroidered with presidential seal; a seven piece set of Mrs. Ford’s luggage; a kaleidoscope; three storage trunks; twelve place settings of Okura china with 24 karat gold trim; and twelve place settings of Villeroy and Boch Petite Fleur china.

Gerald Ford pipe
Lori Meena Photography

“As we have organized the items and prepared for the auction, we have become even more grateful for the Ford’s extraordinary generosity,” said Jim Ducatte, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley. “On November 16, we hope to welcome people from across the Valley to this one-of-a-kind event.”

“The auction will be a celebration of the Fords and their love for our community,” said the Rev. Lane Hensley, rector of St. Margaret’s. “That’s a legacy we all share.”

The Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa is located at 44-400 Indian Wells Lane in Indian Wells. Complimentary parking will be available for the auction. Cash, American Express, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover cards will be accepted as payment for items purchased.

bfglogoThe non-profit Betty Ford Center is an addiction recovery hospital that offers help and hope to individuals and their family members affected by the disease of addiction. Learn more at

bgcaThe Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley provides meaningful afterschool and summer programs for 7,000 youth between the ages of 7 and 18 in five Coachella Valley communities in Southern California. Learn more at

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St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California, is a leading progressive parish in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. St. Margaret’s offers Holy Eucharist on Sundays at 8 and 10 am, community-wide outreach, adult education and wellness programs, an early childhood center, compassionate pastoral care and a celebrated music program. Learn more at