Auctioneer: Rachel Mellon sales could bring $100M

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 3 at 1:01 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Property from the estate of noted horticulturist, philanthropist and heir to the Listerine fortune Rachel "Bunny" Mellon is going on the auction block this fall.

Over 2,000 paintings, jewelry, furniture and decorative objects are estimated to bring more than $100 million, according to Sotheby's.

The proceeds will benefit The Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, which supports The Oak Spring Garden Library in Upperville, Virginia. The library houses Mellon's collection of rare books, manuscripts and works of art related to landscape design, horticulture and natural history that is visited by scholars worldwide.

Mellon was the widow of philanthropist Paul Mellon. She died in March at 103.

The auction house did not provide details but said the objects were drawn from the couple's homes in the United States and abroad and would be offered in a series of sales in the fall.

Mellon was a self-taught botanist and close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In 1961, she redesigned the White House Rose Garden and later created another White House garden that was named for Kennedy after her death.

A private person, Mellon was thrust in the spotlight when John Edwards was indicted in 2011 for using what prosecutors alleged was campaign money, including $750,000 from Mellon, to hide his mistress during his 2008 presidential bid. He was later acquitted. Mellon was never accused of breaking any laws.

During their lifetimes, the Mellons donated hundreds of important artworks to museums, including the National Gallery of Arts. The Washington, D.C. museum was founded in 1937 by Paul Mellon's father, the Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Mellon.

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