(Nearly) everything of Velma's must go

See Morrison's treasures, art at an estate auction preview this weekend in Boise

May 1, 2014 

What's for sale? Thousands of items - ranging from glittering jewels to Idaho kitsch to international treasures - collected by the Idaho philanthropist and arts supporter throughout her life are available. You'll find everything from Morrison's 6.10-carat pear-shaped diamond-and-platinum ring (online bid at press time was $25,000) to framed posters of shows at the Morrison Center, the theater she helped build on the Boise State campus.

Who was Velma Morrison? She died in June at her second home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 92. She traveled the globe with her husband, Harry W. Morrison, co-founder of the worldwide engineering firm Morrison-Knudsen Co. He was one of the wealthiest and most influential men of his day. Velma Morrison brought back jade from the Orient, mechanical music boxes from Russia, carpets from Iran and more.

Why is it for sale? Sentimental items have been collected by the family, including Morrison's grand piano, "but there's just too much," said Justin Wilkerson, Morrison's grandson and one of two executors. "We have a 3,000-square-foot home. There's no way we can keep all this stuff."

Where will the money from the auction go? The proceeds will be divided between the family and the Harry W. Morrison Foundation, and will benefit a variety of Idaho philanthropic causes. Proceeds from the sale of the jade collection will go to the Boise Art Museum.

What's not there? Two John Tenney Johnson paintings. They were donated to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Johnson died in 1939 and is considered one of the best-known painters of the Old American West. Harry Morrison bought the paintings in the 1930s; they were appraised at $1.2 million.

What about the house? Camelotview, her 12,000-square-foot, three-story Crescent Rim home, is on the market, listed without a price. "We didn't know what kind of value to put on it. It was built in the early 1990s for about $5 million. If someone is interested, they should make an offer," Wilkerson said.

Online auction The bulk of the estate items are being auctioned online by Corbett Auctions and Appraisals, at CorbettAuctions.com. Each lot will close from Tuesday, May 6, to Thursday, May 8. Preview the items from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 3505 W. Crescent Rim. There's a $10 entrance fee; shuttles will run from Ann Morrison Park starting at 11 a.m.

A live auction will be held at 10 a.m. May 10 at the house for such items as crystal, artwork, silver coins, MK souvenirs and an oil portrait of Harry Morrison.

Dana Oland, Idaho Statesman

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