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D.C. Landmark Watergate Hotel Sells Off Furnishings Before Renovation

Everything must go at the Watergate Hotel.

The Washington landmark, made famous by the Nixon scandal, is selling beds, sofas, silver teapots and even toilets to prepare for a major renovation.

The sale begins Thursday at the hotel and will last until all items are sold. It is expected to draw thousands of people and yield $700,000, said Don Hayes, president of Ohio-based National Content Liquidators and the sale's manager.

Bargain hunters can choose among items such as an ordinary wooden desk for $85 or frying pans for $6. Others might come "because it's the Watergate," said Hayes, who hopes a $10 admission fee during the first three days will deter people only interested in sightseeing.

Altogether, the hotel will offer for sale more than 20,000 items, including books, wineglasses, drapes, Jacuzzis, vanity mirrors, a baby grand piano and 13 Greek-style columns.

The Watergate Hotel, which opened in 1967, is part of a complex of six buildings, including one where the 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters occurred — a crime that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. Four of the burglars stayed at the hotel.

Over the years, the hotel has drawn a number of famous names, including Liberace, Katharine Hepburn, Andy Warhol and John Wayne.

Michael Darby, a principal of D.C.-based Monument Realty, said the Watergate will be turned into a premier hotel, with rooms and suites "catering to travelers accustomed to luxury." Plans call for the hotel to feature $2,000-a-night suites.

Mary Siegel, business manager for Georgetown Visitation, a Catholic preparatory school, plans to attend the sale. Last year, she and a nun went to two hotel liquidation sales and left with enough tables and chairs to help furnish the monastery, she said.

"We saved thousands of dollars; its wonderful!" she said. Siegel said her son asked whether any items from the Watergate scandal would be for sale, but she waved him off.

"Isn't it awful that we don't care about that?" she laughed. "Its the bargains."