CULTURE

Legendary first family nostalgia auctioned

Over 700 personal belongings of the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were put up for auction this week by their daughter Caroline, the sole remaining immediate member of the US’s legendary first family. Photographs, portraits, the late president’s favorite rocking chair which he used in the Oval Office, books, picture frames, even blankets and other household objects, some of them monogrammed, all went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on February 15. Sotheby’s Vice President Chapin Carson explained the unprecedented demand for the objects and people’s desire to own something that had been touched by one of the Kennedys. «It shows the public is nostalgic for the time the Kennedys were in the White House, a time identified with hope and dreams for a better and more just world,» said Carson. In a prologue in the Sotheby’s catalog, Caroline explained that while her brother John was still alive, they had made the decision to sell personal objects, mostly belonging to their late mother. When John was killed in a plane crash, Caroline found herself in possession of so many things that she «neither needed nor wanted.» She said she had donated everything of historical value to the John F. Kennedy Library and kept those things that meant something to her and her children. Part of the proceeds of the auction and sale of the catalog are to go to the Kennedy Library and to charity. The rocking chair sold for $96,000 (from a starting price of $5,000); a red flannel blanket monogrammed JFK started at $300 and finally went for $18,000 to a criminologist from New Jersey who used to work for JFK when he was senator. Doug Ellis from Princeton, NJ, paid $1,500 for two bronze candlesticks from the Hyannis Port summer house to put on his bookshelves that hold 600 books on the Kennedys. Back in 1965, on February 20, in fact, Kathimerini carried a photograph of Rose Kennedy at the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, at the opening of an exhibition of personal belongings of John F. Kennedy. How times change. Then, the belongings were museum pieces to be admired, now they are going under the hammer.