HOUSTON—Sometimes even the rich have to downsize. Such is life for Bob and Elyse Lanier. The wealthy former Houston mayor and his socialite wife can’t move all of the clutter out of their old River Oaks mansion into their new River Oaks penthouse.
"We’re not entertaining like we were," Elyse Lanier explains. "We’re not holding fundraisers like we did. We’re not having big parties like we did. And it’s time to just have something that’s more manageable."
But tossing a yard sale isn’t exactly their style, so they’ve hired an estate sale firm to get rid of their extra stuff.
Their idea of "stuff" includes everything from designer handbags to high-end furniture.
The merchandise for the Lanier’s tag sale fills much of the floor space of the Judy Robinson Estates Sale shop in the Houston Design Center, looking vaguely reminiscent of the final shot in "Citizen Kane."
The biggest item is a dining room set that hosted everybody from President Clinton to Lady Bird Johnson. Silverware and china are sold separately, but there’s plenty of china to choose from because the Laniers have been prolific purchasers of dishes for any occasion.
Still, the most popular attractions will almost certainly be the designer fashion accessories amassed by Mrs. Lanier.
The couture items are a who’s-who of designer names like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik and Hermes.
She has no idea how many shoes she owns, but she’s willing to sell some of them to anybody who wears size 9 ½ to 10.
"I can look at every piece in here, I can look at everything, I can remember when I wore it, I can remember what happened, I can remember what day, I can remember who was there," she said. "And you know, I can get very emotional about it."
Furniture dominates the sale, much of it reflecting Mrs. Lanier’s taste in bright colors. Next to the Laniers’ bed decorated with bright yellow pillows sits a deep maroon dog bed that looks like something out of "I Dream of Jeannie."
There are antique silver pieces by English and American silversmiths dating back to the 1700s. Besides complete tea sets, the collection includes period curiosities like a Revolutionary War-era snuff box.
Paintings, prints and sculptures are also scattered around the galleries. Among the more curious items are a collection of old music boxes and Edison recorder cylinders.
A couple of baseballs are autographed by Roger Clemens.
The former mayor expressed joking relief that his wife was finally selling some of her designer glasses, but he dodged questions about how much she spends on clothing.
"I don’t see any profit in it," he said. "I already paid for it. No sense making her mad now."
The host of the sale predicts they’ll raise up to $500,000.
The sale takes place at the Houston Design Center from Wednesay, May 9 to Sunday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Click here to see photos of some of the loot.
You can see more on their website and on KHOU 11 News at 6 p.m.