White House crasher Michaele Salahi to auction off dress she wore to state dinner

Michaele Salahi, in the dress
Michaele Salahi, in the dress (Bill O'leary/the Washington Post)
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By Amy Argetsinger
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 4, 2010

For months, White House gate-crasher-turned-reality star Michaele Salahi has been promising reporters that she would auction her infamous red-and-gold sari for charity -- and, well, darned if she's not actually doing it now. For real!

The Potomack Co., an Old Town Alexandria auction house, announced Friday that it will put the dress on the block Oct. 2. and that Salahi and her husband, Tareq, "have directed the auction gallery to forward 80 percent of their proceeds from the gown's sale to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund," and a yet-to-be-named local charity.

The dress -- technically not a sari but a two-piece style known as a lengha -- was rendered instantly iconic in November when Salahi wore it into the White House state dinner for India without an actual invitation, exposing a major weakness in President Obama's security perimeter.

But how iconic? The Potomack Co.'s Lucie Holland said the auction house estimates that it could fetch $2,000 to $3,000. "Our estimates are conservative," she said. "We hope to generate interest." Yet it probably won't land in the stratosphere of recently auctioned gowns worn by Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe.

Those who love to hate the controversial couple -- who seem to have gotten stuck in the villain roles on "The Real Housewives of D.C." -- will either be gratified that the Salahis won't profit heavily after the charity donation or dismayed that the sale will do little to help the long line of vendors and creditors who say the Salahis owe them. The dress will probably be the first lot on a sale day that will also feature a collection of Asian art and furniture from a historic Alexandria home.

Holland said the dress "is in beautiful condition." She lifted the dress -- tulle with gold beading and sequins -- and "it's very heavy, actually. It's quite substantial."

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