According to the butler, the case of the purloined Auchincloss family silver began with a telephone call from Lee Radziwill, who warned her mother to stay away from professional movers because a company had just charged her $7,000 to move three blocks in New York, from 79th and Park to 78th and Fifth.
The widowed Mrs. Hugh D. Auchincloss, recently married to Bingham Morris, was preparing to move from Georgetown to Southampton on Long Island.
Auchincloss, the mother of former first lady Jacqueline Onassis, decided to save money with do-it-yourself transportation for her family antiques and herilooms.
Someone in Newport arranged the loan of a truck and drivers.
The butler, John O'Connor, knew members of a gay motorcycle club, the Druids, who agreed to help with the heavy loading.
Moving time was "utter confusion," according to O'Connor. In addition to the Druids, he says, there were crews from two auction houses tagging valuables to be sold later this spring. Including workmen from a contracting company, there were 20 people coming and going, over a period of three days.
Police reported afterward that $27,000 worth of silver flatware packed in a cardboard box in the dining room had disappeared.
Word was passed to everyone present that they were going to be asked by police to take a lie detector test.
A few days later, some of the silver was stuffed into a green plastic garbage bag and dropped into a mailbox in front of the post office at 31st and M Streets, in Georgetown.
Twenty pieces of the silver, all engraved with the Auchincloss family crest, are still missing.
Police are still investigating.
According to O'Connor, the move has been fraught with aggravation for his employer.
Asked by a genral's wife to donate discards to Fort Myer's thrift shop, Janet Auchincloss Morris generously obliged. "The generals' wives who arrived with sergeants in tow to cart the stuff away got into a flap," O'Connor says. "One of them said she collects dolls and Mrs. Morris gave her some that had been stored in a closet. The other women later took the position that the dolls belonged to Fort Myer and there was such an argument with notes and letters on the bulletin board that Mrs. Auchincloss ended up taking them back."
Then a lot of stuff some bidders believed to be Auchincloss family memorabilia was auctioned off by the Druids recently at a gay bar downtown.
O'Connor says that the Druids did not properly identify their auction merchandise. "I gave them stuff from my apartment that I wasn't going to move," he says. "It's true it came from the Auchincloss house, but not the Auchincloss family."
The Druids are "very responsible people," O'Connor says. "It's more of a fraternal thing. One member is a parole officer in Maryland. Another works for Indian Affairs. There's an Army officer and two Air Force captains. I don't think any of them even owns a motorcycle. They don't even wear leather. They all dress in dungarees."
"Good Lord!" said Janet Morris' son, Jamie Auchincloss, when he learned of the sale.
His mother wanted to know:
"Who are the Druids? I never heard of the Druids.I don't know what the Druids are."