22 Days In November
9:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Sold! This Fall, Auctions Abound For Prized JFK And Oswald Items

Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.

Today, we look at JFK (and Oswald) auctions.

Scores of items that are connected to the Kennedy assassination have been put on the auction block through the years. But this fall is prime time for Kennedy auctions – and the more lucrative items are bringing in lots of money. 

Late last month, RR Auction featured many high-profile items for sale, including Lee Harvey Oswald’s gold wedding band and a limousine that transported Kennedy, his wife and others through Fort Worth to Carswell Air Force Base, where they boarded a flight to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. The New Hampshire-based auction house said it was the most extensive JFK auction of the year. Here are some examples:

  • Oswald's gold wedding band sold for $108,000. RR Auction said the ring sold to a buyer from Texas who wished to remain anonymous. Oswald left the ring in a cup on the dresser on the morning of the assassination, Nov. 22, 1963. After being turned over to the Secret Service, the ring spent decades in the files of a Fort Worth lawyer before being returned to his widow. She agreed to put it up for auction.
  • The white 1963 Lincoln Continental used to transport Kennedy to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth sold for $318,000. The limo transported John Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Texas governor John Connally from a breakfast and speech at the Hotel Texas ballroom through the streets of Fort Worth to Carswell Air Force Base, where they boarded their flight to Dallas.
  • A black Classic 1960 Continental Mark V from President Kennedy’s D.C. motor pool scored $210,000. The four-door bulletproof limo features a two-way telephone in the back seat, uncommon for the time. While the body has been restored, the interior remains in its original condition, with beige leather seats and matching carpeting.

Also up for grabs:

  • The official mourning flag flown over the White House on Nov. 22 went for $54,000.
  • A pair of cream-colored rotary telephones from the presidential suite of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, used by the Kennedys the night before they traveled to Dallas, went for $31,200.

On Nov. 23, a day after the 50th anniversary of the assassination, Heritage Auctions in Dallas will auction a rocking chair used by Kennedy in the White House. Other items to be auctioned off include two flags from the Oval Office. The collection was amassed by Dean William Rudoy, a psychologist from New Mexico. He says that since this year marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, it seemed like the right time to sell the items to the next generation of collectors.

Dallas-based Heritage says the chair sat in his White House bedroom. Heritage says that one of Kennedy’s doctors suggested that he use a rocking chair to help ease his back pain. Over the years, he bought or was given about 14 similar chairs to use in several locations, including the Oval Office, on Air Force One and in a hotel suite.

Several of JFK's rocking chairs have appeared on the auction market, and have proven lucrative, Heritage reports. At the 1996 New York Auction of Jacqueline Kennedy's possessions, two Kennedy rockers were sold, one for $442,500, and one for $453,500.

Heritage says that the chair is desirable because it was used by Kennedy in his private White House bedroom.

“[It] gives it a closer personal connection to JFK than many of the other Kennedy rockers,” Heritage states on its website.

Rudoy spoke about Kennedy in a video produced by Heritage:

This was a president who was an idealist and a realist. He was a romantic and a pragmatist. These are not contradictory terms. In a way it’s a coincidence of opposites. He combined all of these things together in his presidency. It was a time of a great awakening and a great spirit. The New Frontier. In that brief period of time, America turned the corner and what we were showing to the world is that we are not only a strong nation, but we are a nation that is generous and we wish to be benevolent.

A look at JFK’s rosary from RR Auction:

A look at the Kennedy Collection of Dean William Rudoy from Heritage Auctions: