The smell of horses and hay permeated the marble-floored galleries at Christie's in Manhattan on Friday as potential bidders previewed items including the preserved remains of movie cowboy Roy Rogers' famous horse, Trigger. The auction house is selling items from the now-closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo., on Wednesday and Thursday.
Unlike the fine furniture, paintings and jewelry that Christie's is famous for, the centerpiece of this auction is a stuffed and mounted horse rearing on its hind legs.
It also will feature another type of horsepower - Rogers' 1964 Bonneville convertible adorned with silver dollars, its door handles and gear shift replaced by silver-plated pistols.
The car is expected to draw $100,000 to $150,000. Trigger is expected to fetch $100,000 to $200,000.
Other items for sale include: Rogers' and Evans' performance outfits; the preserved remains of Rogers' dog, Bullet; about 60 pairs of cowboy boots; and the Jeep "Nellybelle" from the Roy Rogers TV show.
Hundreds of other items will be offered, many with estimated prices in the low hundreds.
Michel Bettigole, 70, a prospective buyer who attended the preview, called Rogers one of his heroes and said he grew up watching him chase down bandits on the big screen.
"But there was never any violence. He always shot the gun out of the bad guy's hand. It was good morals."
* * *
Pentagon survey criticized by gays
A Defense Department survey sent this week to 400,000 service members asks such provocative questions as whether its troops have shared shower facilities with a gay person or if they would be comfortable using a base commissary if their neighbors were gay.
The survey, part of what the military says is its effort to prepare for the possible integration of gays and lesbians into the armed forces, provoked immediate criticism from some human rights groups, which called the survey biased and apt to fan fears of gays in the military.
The unauthorized public disclosure of the $4.5 million survey and the reaction to it also prompted the Pentagon to worry that the fallout could skew the results.
Defense officials said the survey is critical to help prepare the armed forces for the likely end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which prohibits gays from serving openly in the military. The policy is on the verge of being revoked by Congress and the White House.
On Friday, press secretary Geoff Morrell said "inflammatory" news coverage could discourage troops from participating or affect their answers. "We need people to participate in this survey to get a sense of the attitudes of the force."
* * *
BY THE NUMBERS
Average amount spent by private research universities for each student for instruction in 2007-2008 school year.
Average amount spent by public research universities for each student for instruction in 2007-2008 school year.
Source: Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity & Accountability, a nonprofit research group