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Gary Younge
Kennedy jumble sale at Sotheby's

Caroline Kennedy's decision to hold this high-class jumble sale in February next year is prompted not by desperation but excessive wealth.

Nine years ago she and her late brother, John F Kennedy Jr, auctioned part of their mother's estate through Sotheby's. The auction of Jacqueline Onassis's wares netted $34.5m (£18m), earning it the title "the sale of the century".

"In the intervening years," writes Ms Kennedy in her catalogue, "I found myself again with more houses and belongings than I could possibly use or enjoy."

Items include a pair of folding suitcase racks described as "mid-20th century" and incomplete sets of crockery ($150-$200) as well as tables with nicks and what the New York Times describes as "painted pieces [that] are missing some of their paint".

At the other end of the range is a Khmer sandstone torso priced at $40,000-$60,000. The prices are based on the value of the goods, without reference to the identity of the previous owner.

But it is that identity which has brought them to Sotheby's and will bring the crowds to gaze. At the last auction 30,000 people trooped by to examine what was in the Kennedy attic, creating queues so long that Sotheby's put up tents to accommodate them and set up a lottery system to determine which browsers should be admitted. The auction earned seven times more than had been expected.

The forthcoming sale is much smaller, with less than half the number of lots and an estimated value of a fifth of the total worth of the last one. Nonetheless, the Kennedy allure promises a huge turnout.

"All of the lots have the Kennedy flavour," David Redden, vice-chairman of Sotheby's, told the New York Times. "Those of us who remember that first sale so well will find material here that will remind them of that."

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