The jacket, which has the presidential seal sewn on the front, was given to Powers shortly before the president was assassinated 50 years ago. It came with a color photograph of Kennedy wearing it while watching the America’s Cup race. It was apparently also loaned to President Ronald Reagan, and the auction includes a letter from Reagan to Powers thanking him for the jacket.
It was almost 8 p.m. before the jacket, which had a pre-auction price of $20,000 to $40,000, came up for bid. It was sold to an unidentified buyer on the phone, who shelled out $570,000, plus an 18 percent buyer’s premium and 6.25 percent sales tax, for the piece of nostaligia.
Before the auction, the jacket caught the attention of Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer, who joked to a reporter that he was going to make a run at the item. Kezer, who attended the first hour of the proceedings with his wife and son, welcomed attendees with a short introductory speech.
“We are so proud to have the auction here in Amesbury,” Kezer said.
John McInnis also took a few moments to mention the significance of the auction.
“This is kind of turning into a historic event. We wanted this auction to tell the story of Jack Kennedy and Dave Powers,” McInnis said.
Amesbury resident and Newburyport historian Jay Williamson, the curator of the Cushing House Museum in Newburyport who helped create a full-color auction catalog, said shortly before the auction started that he was excited to see what turned out to be months of preparation come to fruition in one day.
“To have such a horde of items here, great and small, it really gives you a glimpse into his entire life,” Williamson said.
$570,000: Price paid for Kennedy’s Air Force One leather bomber jacket; pre-auction price was $20,000 to $40,000.