Boston-based R.R. Auction has put a trove of items connected to John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy up for sale this month, including the former president’s Harvard cardigan sweater and candid photographs of the first lady as a teenager, according to the company.
Roughly 114 “museum quality” items have been listed on the auction house’s website, offering potential buyers with deep pockets a glimpse at the life and relationship of the political power couple.
“The Kennedys are the closest thing we have to royalty in this country,” Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of R.R. Auction, said in a telephone interview. “And they still resonate emotionally with people from around the world.”
Livingston said “some of the real neat things” that are fetching high bids are the artifacts that Kennedy actually wore or touched.
For example, the crimson cardigan sweater with a large, black “H” on it from Kennedy’s alma mater, Harvard. It was acquired by CBS cameraman Herman Lang while shooting the network’s May 1964 interview with Jackie Kennedy, according to a description of the item.
The current bid on the sweater is more than $27,000, and is expected to go up before the auction closes on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
A second article of clothing owned by JFK — the iconic naval bomber jacket recovered from the Honey Fitz, the former presidential yacht — is also up for grabs. As of Tuesday, fifteen people had bid on the jacket, with the highest offer coming in at $37,982.
Also for sale is Kennedy’s record player and stereo; a signed photograph of the couple slicing into their wedding cake (the 65th anniversary of their wedding was in September); documents related to the president’s death; and handwritten letters by Jackie.
Livingston said one letter he finds particularly interesting was written by Jackie to Godfrey T. McHugh, the president’s military aide and her “Air Force One consoler,” nine days after her husband was assassinated.
“Just the pain of the widow — the first lady — is evident in that letter,” he said.
Livingston said the items, many of which he deemed “remarkable,” were amassed from consignors from all over the world, and don’t just come from a single collection.
“They send it to us in Boston, we authenticate it and appraise it, and then we offer it to the public for a commission,” he said.
The company typically has a Kennedy-themed auction in May and November, according to Livingston, months that mark the president’s birth and death, respectively.
“It’s a really rare and great opportunity to own something from the Kennedys,“ he said. “[They] have a place in American history, and the American imagination.”
Last year, a diary kept by a young JFK after World War II sold for more than $700,000, according to the auction house, exceeding its pre-sale estimate. In 2016, RR Auction offered a four-page handwritten letter from president to one of his alleged mistresses, Mary Pinchot Meyer.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.