By JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A gold judicial necklace made of glass beads that belonged to Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg is up for auction to benefit charity, the first time one of her iconic necklaces will be available at procurement.
The piece is part of a collection of around 100 items being sold in an online auction which begins on Wednesday. It ends on September 16, just days before the two-year anniversary of the liberal icon’s death at 87.
In addition to the necklace, items up for auction include a pair of Ginsburg’s opera glasses, a wooden gavel and artwork hanging in her Washington apartment.
There are also unusual objects. Her son, James, said in an interview that when talking about the collection “it’s hard not to mention the cake decorating. The fondant sculpture was commissioned by friends for one of Justice’s birthdays and depicts her standing in a judicial robe with her arms outstretched on the bow of a battleship nicknamed ‘The Notorious RBG’, Justice’s nickname . Ginsburg said it reminded her a bit of a scene from the movie “Titanic.”
The auction also includes other Ginsburg fashion pieces: a white handbag, a shawl, scarves and two sets of fishnet lace gloves. She started wearing gloves in the late 1990s after undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court justice, suggested them as a way to prevent illness by shaking hands, but Ginsburg loved the gloves so much she continued to wear them.
But it was Ginsburg’s necklaces — which she wore on the bench as an accessory to her black dress — that were her most notable fashion item. She had dozens of them, her son and daughter-in-law said. The family donated several to the Smithsonian, including a shiny black one she wore on the bench when she dissented in a case. Speaking at an event in 2020, Ginsburg – who has become a pop culture figure in recent years – said that at the time she received a necklace “at least once a week” from fans of the whole world.
The auction was originally planned to include two of Ginsburg’s necklaces. The other, in fabric, was a gift from his clerks. A family motto is sewn inside: “It’s not a sacrifice, it’s a family”. But the family said in a statement on Tuesday that they had decided to keep the necklace and loan it permanently to “a suitable institution where it can be displayed for all to see.” The family did not provide additional details.
The auction is the third this year of Justice-owned items, and his son said it will be the last. In April, some 150 items — including artwork displayed by Ginsburg in her home and office — raised more than $800,000 for the Washington National Opera, one of the late judge’s passions.
Bonhams, which is holding the latest auction, estimated the current group of items to sell for a total of just under $50,000. In January, however, an online auction of his books also conducted by Bonhams brought in $2.3 million, almost 30 times the pre-sale estimate.
Bonhams said he expects the necklace to sell for between $3,000 and $5,000. At the previous book auction, however, a 1957-1958 copy of the Harvard Law Review with Ginsburg’s annotations sold for over $100,000, breaking Bonhams’ estimate from 2,500 to 3. $500.
Proceeds from the current sale will fund an endowment in Ginsburg’s honor to benefit SOS Children’s Villages, an organization that supports vulnerable children around the world. Ginsburg’s daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels, serves on the organization’s advisory board. Michaels, a composer and singer, said the auctioned hammer was one Ginsburg gave her to use while performing a composition she wrote about Ginsburg’s dissents. The gold pearl necklace was also the one she chose from Ginsburg’s collection.
“I thought it was literally so beautiful,” Michaels said. “I really liked the aesthetics and the feeling of being as elegant as my mother-in-law.”
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