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Michaele Salahi sari sells at auction for $7,000 -- to a non-fan

Remember? Michaele Salahi, wearing that infamous sari, meeting the president, at the state dinner for India last fall. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

UPDATED Sunday with comment from Erwin Gomez

The infamous red sari that Michaele Salahi wore to the White House sold at auction in Alexandria Saturday morning for about $7,000, well over estimate.

The buyer: James Packard-Gomez, co-owner of the Georgetown salon where Salahi and her husband Tareq primped before they managed to penetrate President Obama's first state dinner without an invitation.

James Packard-Gomez, left, and business partner Erwin Gomez, after Erwin testified in January before a federal grand jury probing the White House incident. (Amy Argetsinger/The Washington Post)

Packard-Gomez is more an antagonist of the couple than a fan: After the White House incident he gave interviews alleging that the Salahis had never paid the bill for the work the salon did for her wedding party years earlier.

But he leapt at the chance to buy the red-and-gold Indian-style gown, which the Salahis decided to sell for charity through the Potomack Company auction house (where experts originally projected a value of $2,000-$3,000).

The dress, said Packard-Gomez, is "part of the history of the salon." (A camera crew for "The Real Housewives of D.C." followed the Salahis through their pre-dinner preparations at the Erwin Gomez Salon & Spa, a scene that was prominent in Thursday's episode.)

He doesn't plan to display it at the salon but says he has "big plans" down the road, either to donate it to a museum or open a venue himself. "We have all these wax museums around the country, all these gift shops devoted to former presidents," he said. What about "a gift shop that specializes in political scandals?"

(UPDATED: A $7,000 sari may be a controversial purchase for anyone in the middle of a divorce. Erwin Gomez, the styling guru who groomed Michaele, is Packard-Gomez's business partner still, but life partner no longer, and he told us he did not endorse the acquisition: "I don't want to be associated with the Salahis.")

The Potomack Company's Lucie Holland said the auction (part of a larger sale, mostly focusing on Asian art and furniture) drew a standing-room crowd. The proceeds will not solve the Salahis's financial woes (Tareq's business filed for bankruptcy last year; now, so too has his polo organization) or satisfy many of their creditors: They asked that the auction house direct 80 percent of the sale price to two charities: the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (Michaele recently said she has MS). The auction house will also donate the same portion of its own fee from the sale.

There were no awkward moments between the sari buyer and sellers: Packard-Gomez placed his bids over the phone. After he won, he said, "Michaele got on the phone, crying, thanking me, and Tareq got on the phone, too, to thank me."

By The Reliable Source  | October 2, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Real Housewives of D.C., White House State Dinner, White House crashers  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: "I want to see that invitation": D.C. 'Housewives' recap and fact-check (#8, Sept. 30)
Next: Love, etc.: Yul Kwon is now a dad


Why do I find this hilarious?

Posted by: LAWPOOL | October 2, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Who's sari now?

The grift continues...

Posted by: Benson | October 2, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: motogp46 | October 2, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Next up: an auction of oasis wine that Tareq stole from his mom.

Posted by: growler55 | October 2, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"There's a sucker born every moment..."

Posted by: rlj611 | October 2, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Get that woman a hamburger already!

Posted by: ennepe68 | October 2, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Don['t forget the Salahi's walked away with 20% of the sale, which was $1400 bucks, probably more then the sari was purchased for and hopefully some creditor was standing around with paperwork to collect part of his payment today as well.

Posted by: RealWashington | October 2, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this crowd is nothing if not incestuous. Truth is Gomer Pyle Gomez or whatever her name is was probably just propping up the value of his attempt at a brand.

What's next? Soon they will be pushing for a National Eurotrash Museum on the Mall or more likely the empty Georgetown Mall.

Why do I think that once "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" hits this franchise will be history? When Danielle Staub looks classy and interesting in comparison there is a problem (that mostly means you Michale).

I do hear they are auditioning body doubles to portray Tareq in "Salahi, the porn video" (some problem with inadequacies which make key shots impossible to film I hear). Also, bets are on they "jump the shark" with a Heather Mills visit to sister what's her name, the brassy Brit.

Posted by: SoCali | October 2, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

This story on them still has life. I'm sure we'll hear about them in divorce court in the future, pointing the finger at one another, saying it's the other persons fault. then we'll hear the Real Stories.

Posted by: RealWashington | October 2, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This is the dumbest thing I ever heard. When I saw the headline, I seriously thought her mom must have bought it.

Posted by: ahwilhelm | October 2, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post = face palm

That is NOT a sari. It's a lehnga.

We need more culturally literate writers these days, I tell you.

Posted by: auxentius | October 2, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Goes to show you - the SARI is worth more than the Salahi's. When will this 'comedy' team meet their 'come-uppence' - bills not paid for years; one disaster after the other with so many people involved; comic book disasters - both of them!

Posted by: rbsher | October 2, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I have trouble understanding why Packard-Gomez would want any reminders of the Salahis at all, much less fund them in any (albeit small) way. His explanation rings hollow. Perhaps this spectacle has been good for business?

Posted by: sarahabc | October 2, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

How weird is it that they held on to the 20%? I know they're broke, and if you're broke, $1,400 is real money.

But from a PR perspective, that's just crazy.

Posted by: MeriJ | October 3, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

The grift that keeps on grifting.

Posted by: Rivery | October 3, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Best place to find quality quality bankruptcy info online is

Posted by: chloemia01 | October 3, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

So happy to hear the red sari went for so much money. such a good cause.
Michaele ignore the same hater above "socali" that is rachel"scary" janickey harshman again who is obsessed with you.
See you this week at your party.

Posted by: lisag1 | October 3, 2010 3:05 AM | Report abuse

"a gift shop that specializes in political scandals?"

There is already a 'museum' which houses "infamous" objects of America's sad history. One object is a car once owned by a murderer. Why not just put the sari there?

The Salahi's supposedly didn't pay their bill at this guy's salon, so he's gonna shell out $7,000 to buy her dress? What a wacko!!!!!

Posted by: momof20yo | October 3, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Rivery: What a great line-- "The grift that keeps on grifting."
Mind if I use that?

lisag1: Hi Michaele. Suppose you can't sleep just thinking about what you're going to do with all of that $1400. Probably more cash than you have seen in a long time. Hint: If you convert it all into $1 bills, it looks like a lot more! Another hint: Take about 20 $1 bills, put a $20 on the outside, and hubby will be able to flash what looks like an impressive wad of cash!

Gotta keep up appearances, don't you know.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | October 3, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I remember an episode of "M*A*S*H" where Hawkeye Pierce & B.J. Hunnicutt put a toe tag on Frank Burns that read, "Emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt." Sounds like a pretty apt description of Tareq & Michaele/Michelle/Missy, doesn't it?

P.S. I still think the lehenga should be burned in public.

Posted by: ehsmith1 | October 3, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Everything aboutn Michaele Salahi is phony, just look at her fingernails. What a creepy woman.

Posted by: truth1 | October 3, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

It's downright bizzare that lisag1 continues to post after these articles. I assume no one else can use a person's ID at WaPo, once it's assigned. So it really must be the same person each time.

But what is the point? It's like standing up in a crowded room and begging people to throw rotten eggs at you.

Whether it's one of the Salahis or not, it makes them look idiotic since we all assume it's them or Jen.

Just bizarre. But entertaining!

What I wonder is why Rachel Harshman hasn't sued the Salahis for defamation. Some of the allegations that lisag1 and the other sock puppets make are quite specific.

Can the Post track the IP from which these comments originate?

Rachel: Just wait about two months -- by then Lisa Bloom will be their disgusted former attorney and you can hire her mom!

Posted by: MeriJ | October 3, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The grift that keeps on grifting.

That's hilarious.

Posted by: postfan1 | October 3, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

While I realize this is a really minor detail in the grand scheme of things, will you please STOP calling it a freaking sari! That simply wasn't a sari; it's a lehenga, something YOUR OWN COLLEAGUE pointed out on Friday:

Is it just that hard to get these details correct written correctly? Thanks.

Posted by: jb_goblue | October 4, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse


The Washington Post reported that distinction last winter, in December or January I would bet. They understand it's not a sari.

Those of us who've followed the story also know it. But that's how the public and the press refer to the dress -- the Red Sari! -- so it's become a proper name in its own right.

Instead of grimacing every time you hear it, think of it as a subtle joke on Michaele, who went to India and supposedly learned all about these things, including how to wrap a real sari.

Posted by: MeriJ | October 4, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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