Ford Foundation auctions family items


DALLAS –– Gerald Ford's golf clubs sold for about $26,000 at an auction Tuesday of items donated by the late president's family to raise money for a new student learning center at his presidential museum in Grand Rapids.

The auction raised about $132,000 from the sale of some 50 items that belonged to Ford and former first lady Betty Ford. The facility being supported by the sale will be housed at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

The golf clubs came in bag emblazoned with the late president's name, two American flags and the presidential seal.

Tom Slater, director of Americana auctions at Heritage Auctions, said it made sense that the golf clubs garnered the highest amount.

"He was identified so much as a golfer in people's minds," Slater said.

A hooked rug with the presidential seal went for about $13,000. Betty Ford's Halston gown in apricot with silver sequins sold for about $7,800. A Judith Leiber bag that belonged t o the former first lady sold for about $7,200. Ford's personal photograph of himself with four other presidents, which was signed by all, sold for about $7,200.

Slater said that "in general, bidding has been extremely aggressive" for the items.

Joe Calvaruso, executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, said he was pleased to see so much interest in the items. Calvaruso said he expects ground to be broken on the student learning center next year, which would have marked Ford's 100th birthday.

Gerald Ford died in 2006. Betty Ford died last year.

The $5 million-student learning center is part of a $15 million update planned for the museum, which will also include remodeled permanent exhibits.

The foundation promotes Ford's legacy and encourages young adults to get involved in public service. Calvaruso said the student center will initially be focused on providing learning experiences for 8th, 9th and 10th graders.

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