GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - Personal items of President Gerald Ford and former first lady Betty Ford, including golf clubs, clothing and furniture, will be sold at auction to support a $15 million update and expansion at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.
The Ford family donated more than 50 items for the auction, including an American flag that flew over the White House. Other items include golf clubs and bag with two American flags, the presidential seal and “Jerry Ford” emblazoned on it.
There’s also a gown worn by Betty Ford in 1979 among the auction items. And the selection includes Gerald Ford’s personal briefcase and a custom-made coffee table designed as a replica of the Cabinet Room conference table, presented to him when he left office.
“President Ford’s golf clubs have to be considered the star attraction,” said Tom Slater, director of Heritage Auctions. “This is not some presentation set which was locked away in a closet and never actually used. These are his much-loved personal clubs.”
The estimated total value of the items is more than $100,000.
A live auction organized by Heritage Auctions in Dallas is planned for Dec. 11. An online auction already is taking place.
The Gerald R. Ford Foundation in November announced plans for funding a 10,500-square-foot student learning center at the museum and creating new interactive exhibits. Online access to the museum’s documents also is planned along with documents at the Ford presidential library in Ann Arbor.
“It’s all built with private funds. There’s no government funding,” said the late president’s son Steve Ford, chairman of the Ford Foundation. “We’re the private arm that raises money.”
So far, at least $10 million already has been secured from trustees and supporters for the $15 million effort.
President Gerald Ford died in 2006 and former first lady Betty Ford died in 2011. They lived in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for decades. Their hometown was Grand Rapids.
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