Sunnylands Gifts

Anyone familiar with the Palm Springs Valley is well-aware that there’s always some exquisite event happening at Rancho Mirage’s Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, the former winter estate of the late tycoon Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore. On January 25, the landmark unveiled its latest exhibition, “Treasures at Sunnylands: Selections from the Gift Collection of Walter & Leonore Annenberg.”

On display are almost four dozen presents the famed couple received over their lifetime. They are arrayed in categories per who offered the gift: entertainers, diplomats, corporate leaders, royalty, U.S. presidents, and family. Included are dessert plates from Britain’s Prince Charles; a sculpture of the British and American flag by Yaacov Agam from Kirk and Anne Douglas; a set of graduated opium weights from film producer Armand Deutsch and his wife, Harriet; a set of golf clubs (avec red leather golf bag) from President Richard Nixon, each club engraved with his name; a tambourine from singer Pearl Bailey; and a yellow-and-white-canvas-canopy-topped Austin Mini Moke (a small Jeep-like vehicle) presented by Frank Sinatra to his hosts in 1968.

This most recent show is also the subject of the first Sunnylands Speaker Series event of the year. On Thursday, January 29 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Rancho Mirage Public Library (, Sunnylands director of collections Anne Rowe will discuss the history of the items in the exhibition and the relationship the Annenbergs had to some of their gift-bearing visitors.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to Sunnylands to see the show, and then I’m going straight to the library to hear Anne talk about these gifts—funny and serious, small and large—and about the fleeting or enduring exchanges between the Annenbergs and their guests through the years. Who knows? I may even purchase the exhibition catalog available in the Sunnylands Gift Shop for just $15. Oh, and no need to bring anything!


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