Obama items hit the auction circuit with dress and basketball jersey

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LOS ANGELES – A cocktail dress worn by Michelle Obama during her time at the White House and a basketball jersey worn by Barack Obama at high school are among rare items from the former U.S. president and his wife to join the celebrity auction circuit.

The dress, a black vintage Norman Norell 1950s gown worn by Michelle Obama during a 2010 holiday fundraiser in Washington, is expected to fetch $50,000 to $70,000 when it goes up for sale in December at Julien’s Auctions, the company in Beverly Hills, California, said on Wednesday.

It is the first dress worn by Michelle Obama, who became a style icon during her eight years at the White House, ever to come to auction, Julien’s said.

The items were not put up for sale by the couple.

“The Obamas’ personal items … don’t come up very often,” said Kody Frederick, gallery director for Julien’s Auctions. “But every now and again some things fall through the cracks.”

Barack Obama’s game-worn basketball jersey from his days on the Punahou School team in Hawaii comes with the 1979 school yearbook, which includes photos of him playing.

The white mesh pullover has the name Punahou and the number 23 on the front and back. The jersey and yearbook have a pre-sale estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.

Obama’s love for basketball continued during his eight years as president, and he converted a tennis court at the White House to a basketball court.

Frederick said he expected interest to come from “sports collectors, history collectors and those who want to feel part of the legacy of President Obama.”

The two items will be auctioned from Dec. 4-6. The Obama pieces will go on public exhibition at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland, and at Julien’s in Beverly Hills ahead of the sale.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Omar Younis; Editing by Richard Chang)

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