Kennedy Legend Burns Bright At John McInnis Auction

AMESBURY, MASS. — Such was the success of the sale of the Dave Powers collection of John Fitzgerald Kennedy material last February at John McInnis Auctioneers that other collectors clamored to consign material to the auction house. The Legends Auction, November 22–24, offered collections from Kirk LeMoyne Billings, Kennedy’s close friend since prep school; Hollywood manager Milton Ebbins, who managed the careers of Kennedy brother-in-law Peter Lawford and Marilyn Monroe, among others; and a range of other sources. Thousands of objects sold, related to the Kennedys, Ernest Hemmingway and Hollywood figures.

The highlight of the three-day event was a rocking chair made for Kennedy by the P&P Chair Company in Asheboro, N.C., according to the specifications of Dr Janet Travell, the president’s physician. Used mostly at Kennedy’s Cape Cod house, it realized $97,750.

A framed group of 50 pens used to sign bills into law during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations sold for $42,125. The pens were set in a shadow box and identified. They dated from 1961 to 1967 and had been presented to Harry H. Wilson Jr, the presidential liaison to Congress.

The collection of Kirk LeMoyne Billings provided some interesting material, the highlight of which was a black blazer that Kennedy wore during his presidency and gave to Billings. It was made by Kennedy’s Saville Row tailor H. Harris, who also had a shop in New York City, and its buttons bore the presidential seal. The blazer drew $28,750. A fedora worn by the president and made by Cavanaugh Hats in New York was accompanied by a photograph of Kennedy holding the hat as he greeted President Dwight D. Eisenhower and other photographs and the lot realized $8,575.

Kennedy’s high school graduation photograph was inscribed to Billings, “To Lemmer, The gayest son I know. In memory of two tense years and in hopes of many more — your old Pal and supporter, Kem.” The picture realized $7,475. A 1960 Louis Fabian Bachrach photograph of Kennedy as president was also inscribed to Billings and sold for $4,313. Bachrach’s photograph of Kennedy was printed in color by dye transfer in 1964 and realized $9,200.

Three framed watercolors by John F. Kennedy, all signed “J.F.K. ’60,” depicted various points in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., and brought $36,800.

The 26-volume Warren Commission report, signed by each member of the commission, sold for $10,350. The report, in the original shipping boxes, had been given by Allen Dulles to Roger P. Butterfield, national affairs editor for Life magazine. Butterfield, who in retirement was an antiquarian book dealer, sold them to historian Edward Sinker in 1977. The report was accompanied by documentation of ownership and autographs.

The 1909 Aeolian walnut piano from Hammersmith Farm in Newport, R.I., where the young Jacqueline Bouvier spent summers, sold for $20,700. It was accompanied by a letter about its history from her stepbrother Hugh D. Auchincloss III to the woman who bought it in 2000 at a Mike Corcoran sale in Newport.

A set of four sterling candlesticks with scallop detail, gadrooning and fluted columns by William Hutton and Sons was hallmarked London, 1887. They came from Hammersmith Farm and sold for $4,600.

A Gorham footed sterling bowl inscribed “For Mummy from Jack” was a gift from Kennedy to Janet Lee Auchincloss, his mother-in-law, and realized $4,600. It was accompanied by a note on White House stationery signed, “For Mummy from John F. Kennedy and the people of R.I., with love.” A Nineteenth Century sterling second course plate from Hammersmith Farm by Storr & Mortimer Goldsmiths of London was hallmarked for 1835 and realized $2,875.

Another Hammersmith Farm piece was the Eighteenth Century sterling cann made in London in 1771 by Charles Wright that was engraved to Janet Lee Auchincloss and Hugh D. Auchincloss on the occasion of their 30th wedding anniversary. It was presented by Jacqueline, Caroline and John Kennedy and Lee Radziwell, Christine and Antony and sold for $2,350.

A gimbaled chromed aluminum glass caddy with three blue glasses, missing one, engraved “Atlantic Coast Championship/Fifth Race Jack Kennedy” was a sailing trophy won by the Flash II, owned by Joseph P. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy and later by brother Robert Kennedy. It realized $5,245.

Three framed historic engravings of the White House were Christmas gifts to an unidentified godson and were inscribed by both Kennedys. They sold for $19,550. They were “The White House, East Wing and Entrance,” “The President’s House, From Washington” and “Mill’s Colossal Equestrian Statue of General Andrew Jackson.” The latter is one of 200 mailed by the White House at Christmas after Kennedy’s death.

A Cartier Panthere watch given by Jacqueline Kennedy to an unidentified godson, with a letter of provenance, sold for $9,775. Another present of interest was a lithograph of the Red Room of the White House signed by the Kennedys to Dave Powers at Christmas 1962. It sold for $5,750.

Austrian American sculptor Felix de Weldon was commissioned in the spring of 1963 by Jacqueline Kennedy to produce a bust of Kennedy. The president sat for it twice and it was incomplete when he was killed. Four bronze casts were made; two are at the Kennedy Library in Boston and another is at the Kennedy Space Center. The fourth came to market in this sale and sold for $17,250.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy became a fashion icon on becoming First Lady. Correspondence and fabric swatches related to her White House wardrobe and her inaugural gown brought strong money. One typewritten letter on her N Street stationery to Miss Marita (Marita O’Connor) at Bergdorf Goodman discusses her requirements and asks if she can rely on Miss Marita as her personal shopper for accessories as she intends to purchase her clothes at Bergdorf. The lot, which included a note from Leonard Hankin of Bergdorf’s and a newspaper clipping, sold for $6,900.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s typewritten letter to Miss Marita about the hats she would wear on inauguration day and the logistics of getting them to Washington sold for $6,038. Her handwritten note on US Senate stationery to Miss Marita about her shoes for the inauguration and some hats brought $3,680.

Five working sketches by Oleg Cassini of various suits for Kennedy sent to Miss Marina sold for $5,463.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s Italian black leather shoes suggested a frugal owner as they were worn well down at the heel. They sold for $2,530, while her white velvet evening clutch bag sold for $2,415.

Jacques Lowe photographed the Kennedy family for many years. A selection of 54 photographs were sold to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Lowe had secured his negatives in a vault at the World Trade Center, which was destroyed September 11, 2001, making these photographs rarer. The highlight was a photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy leaving the Élysée Palace, home of the French president, which sold for $8,050.

Declassified material about the Cuban missile crisis included pages from Dave Powers’ diary, photocopies of gate logs and appointment books and accounts of conversations between Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, Powers, Robert McNamara and Nikita Khrushchev. The lot sold for $4,888.

Material related to Ernest Hemingway gathered by photographer and close friend Roberto Herrera Sotolongo came from the collection of Sotolongo’s heirs. A group of letters written by Hemingway in Africa and a signed check sold for $8,625, while another group of Hemingway letters and another check was $6,275. A 1950 letter from Hemingway to the editors of Life magazine expressing his outrage that the magazine ran a series of photographs of the torture and killing of a bear in New Mexico sold for $4,730.

All prices quoted reflect the buyer’s premium. For more information, 978-388-0400 or


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