To toast momentous events in his future, former president Nixon still has eight bottles of champagne left out of a 12-bottle case given to him by Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
The bottles were among 200 different rare wines and champagnes -- some vintages worth $500 a bottle -- moved recently from San Clemente to the Nixons' new home in New York.
The valueble wine cellar was only one reason the Nixons took out an extra $100,000 in insurance above their $225,000 homeowner's policy for the cross-country tractor-trailer trip. According to John Finn, the sales manager of North American Van Lines' General Van and Storage in Laguna Niguel, Calif., who supervised the $10,000 move: "There was no Tupperware there.
"Everything the Nixons own has great monetary or historic value, usually both," Finn says.
There were "gifts from the People's Republic of China," Finn said, along with "a painting from the people of Vietnam" and trinkets . . . art or jewelry or something" the shah of Iran gave to Nixon when the former president visited the exiled ruler in Mexico last year.
A 14-karat gold mirror weighing 40 pounds (glass included) was among the treasures.
"It sure lights up your face when you look in it," Finn said.
Because the Nixons' Manhattan townhouse is considerably smaller than their "La Casa Pacifica" estate in California, they had to leave six roomfuls of belongings in General Van and Storage warehouses even after giving daughter Julie enough to finish furnishing her big house in Pennsylvania.
Finn is storing the Nixons' leftovers along with 2,000 pounds of tightly taped and packed cartons that daughter Tricia has been storing for several years now. The contents of these cartons are unknown.
Because he wants posterity to remember him in his younger, pre-Watergate years, Richard Nixon is probably going to have his official White House portrait painted from early photographs.
Artist Henriette Hurd, who painted Pat Nixon for the White House Historical Association, said last week that she was supposed to paint Nixon as well. He was anxious at one point last year that she do it as soon as possible.
"Otherwise," he told her, "I'll look as old as Methuselah."
"He's aged," she said. "He's still vital, but he's aged."
Hurd, sister of Andrew Wyeth and Daughter of illustrator N. C. Wyeth, says that she will not paint Nixon from old photographs as he insists. "No respectable artist will," she says.
She was eager to do both portraits, she says, and doesn't understand other painters who sit "in chilly judgement" of Nixon.
"I can't think of anyone I wouldn't paint unless it was Adolph Hitler," she says. "When Millet painted the piles of dung around peasants' houses, the light was a sublime as if it were striking a Madonna."
Nixon had wanted Andrew Wyeth to paint him, but the two could never coordinate their timetables. Nixon once hosted a one-man show for Wyeth at the White House.
Hurd's portrait of Pat Nixon will not be hung at the White House until a companion portrait of her husband is done to hang alongside it.
But the Nixons have agreed to show Mrs. Nixon's portrait in September at a retrospective of Hurd's work at the Wyeth family's Brandywine River museum in Delaware.
Hurd is the wife of artist Peter Hurd, whose official White House portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson was rejected by Johnson as "the ugliest thing I ever saw." That portrait now hangs in the Nation Portrait Gallery.