POC: Paula Hantman, Hantman’s Auctioneers
TELE: (301) 770-3720/EMAIL:
DATE: July 29, 2003


Hantman’s sale of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy Memorabilia drew an enormous number of internet bidders during their live gallery auction as a fatigued audience watched what normally would have been a three-hour auction expand to eight hours.

The two-collection sale was consigned to Hantman’s in Potomac, Maryland, by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s long-time Personal Secretary, Mary Barelli Gallagher, and Personal Attendant, Providencia Paredes. Both women worked for the Kennedy’s prior to the Senator’s election to the Presidency and continued to work for Jacqueline Kennedy until she moved from Washington D.C. to Manhattan.

“This sale was a smashing success” said Paula Hantman, Hantman’s President and Auctioneer. “More than 1,100 people world-wide registered to bid on-line through eBay and successful bidders outside the United were strewn across Europe and as far away as Malaysia, Israel, Mexico, Australia and Canada”.

In what many collectors considered to be the last great private collection of Kennedy memorabilia to come onto the market, Hantman’s telephone staff relayed hundreds of bids throughout the sale as Hantman executed absentee bids from the podium for hopeful Camelot devotees.

The lots of greatest interest to collectors and the curious were John F. Kennedy’s 1960 personal campaign notebook, the attaché case Jacqueline Bouvier gave her fiancé in 1953, and JFK’s World War II Navy-issue boxer shorts.

Senator Kennedy’s little black book did not contain telephone numbers. The twenty-two pages of handwritten notes included numerous speech fragments, daily reminders, financial ledgers and campaign strategy ideas. It sold to Kennedy memorabilia collector, Suzanne Vlach, in Washington State for $27,000. She later admitted she bid on the lot wearing a new pair of glasses and thought the bid increment contained one less zero (new bifocals, she claimed). Nonetheless, after she realized the historical importance of the notebook, she was thrilled with her purchase. She intends to showcase it in her antique mall, in the resort town of Sea View, Washington. “It will be a great draw for business” she said.

During the sale Hantman accepted a $36,000 provisional telephone bid on JFK’s attaché, a gift from Jacqueline to her intended. The tan leather brief case with JFK’s gilt monogram under the handle was hand-carried by three Kennedys: President Kennedy, Jacqueline as she departed the White House for the last time, and John Jr. as a student at Brown University. Following the sale, the consignor, the American Financial History Museum, accepted the provisional bid.

JFK’s boxer shorts found a home across the ocean in Dublin, Ireland, when a telephone bidder prevailed as the winner of the unusual historical military wardrobe piece. The bidder, Mr. Paul Allen said he bid on the boxer shorts as they are emblematic of the fighting Irish and the Kennedy’s struggle as the first Irish American to reach the top position in the world. He plans to donate them and his other purchases to a museum.

Two copies of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address inscribed and signed by JFK crossed the auctioneer’s block within minutes of one other. One brought $12,000, the other $10,800. Also inscribed by JFK was a copy his book “To Turn the Tide” that a collector snapped up for $6,000.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s autographed notes and correspondence from the Kennedy White House years and afterwards sold between $960-$2,160, as frustrated audience bidders watched on-line bidders secure lot after lot.

Jackie’s clothing in the sale sold to first time and long-time collectors and an institution. Two Finnish Marimekko dresses were purchased by the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture for an exhibition this fall in Manhattan on the Finnish Marimekko factory.

The pink satin dress that Jacqueline Kennedy wore for a Time magazine story sold for $2,700, the matching satin arm-length gloves and matching purse for $3,900. Other clothing and accessories included her flat blue leather shoes ($1,440), fuchsia silk purse ($3,300), pair black patent shoes ($3,600), two-piece Mollie Parnis silk dress ($3,300), and two Caroline Herra wool suits that she wore as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis ($1,800 and $2,040).

Despite yellowing and slight deterioration on some of JFK’s clothing, collectors battled for the Glen plaid suite he wore as a Senator ($9,600) and the note found in the breast pocket ($480), the caramel McGregor cashmere cardigan with a mink collar ($2,700), two dress shirts ($1,440 each), two pair drawstring pajamas ($2400), and khaki slacks ($2,400). The lot of two drawstring-waist pajama bottoms was purchased by the English royal pajama maker to the Queen, Derek Rose of Savile Row.

Bidders scrambled for every collectible including a limited edition sterling silver four-piece pen set ($2,160), a sterling silver Inaugural gift pen and pencil set ($1,920), a Kennedy Inaugural ball medal ($1,320), a photograph of JFK and his Secret Service staff, signed by each staff member and accompanied by a Secret Service Manual ($5,100), (another signed photograph without a manual brought $4,500), and a group of 16 Kennedy Presidential Campaign buttons ($6,0000). The lot contained a special Kennedy button one veteran collector and the successful bidder had been in search of for twenty-five years. Arriving midway during the sale, a steadfast Barbie doll collector secured Caroline Kennedy’s “Japanese Barbie” for $3,300.

Clearly this sale was a trip down memory lane. Attendees during the public exhibition spoke in whispers as if in a museum or church and respectfully observed the “Do Not Touch” signs throughout the gallery. When they did speak, they spoke in tones of reverence, in awe of the personal artifact spread before them. Many expressed the sadness they still felt at loss of President Kennedy, Jacqueline and John Jr., and the honor to view these artifacts and to participate in the historic sale.

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