Carter Center auction in Fla. to raise funds

January 22, 2009 3:58:41 PM PST
The Carter Center plans to auction original artworks by former President Jimmy Carter, a baseball autographed by five U.S. presidents, a set of Harry Potter books signed by author J.K. Rowling and other celebrity memorabilia next month.

They're among more than 100 high-end tchotchkes from the White House, sports, the space race and the entertainment world, plus luxury vacations - including one with the former president and his wife - for sale during Carter Center's annual Winter Weekend celebration Feb. 7 in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Proceeds will help support the work of the not-for-profit Carter Center, which promotes peace and health worldwide and monitors elections in struggling democracies.

Last year, the highest bid was $300,000 for a bench of hard maple wood hand-crafted by Carter. The 2008 auction brought in a total of $1.2 million, Carter Center spokeswoman Paige Rohe said Thursday.

Event coordinator Jay Beck said, "We've averaged, in the last several years, about a million dollars at the auction. In this current economy, I don't now how things will be."

Carter Center supporters donated many of the items. They include the Rawlings baseball, valued at $5,000, from a benefactor who had it signed by Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Carter over the years.

Six original paintings by Carter, mostly featuring still life and scenes of his native Georgia, are valued collectively at $100,000, according to the auction catalog. Five are oils and one is acrylic.

There is a certificate commemorating the 40th anniversary on July 21 of the first moon landing, signed by Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong. There also are photographs taken on the moon and signed by the astronauts.

For music lovers, there are guitars bearing the signatures of rock musicians, including David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash; Sheryl Crow; Willie Nelson; Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck of REM; Bruce Springsteen and Kid Rock.

A Rodriguez guitar, handmade and donated by the guitar-making family, is valued at $50,000.

In addition to vacations in places such as Florence, Italy, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there is a fishing trip with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to the Brigadoon Lodge in north Georgia, considered a top fly fishing destination.

Online bidding will be available for both the live and silent components of the auction.

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