, Newburyport, MA

October 23, 2013

Auction boasts more than 1,500 pieces of JFK memorabilia

Coincides with 50th anniversary of president's death

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — Following the success of February’s Presidential Auction, John McInnis Auctioneers will be putting a second collection of John F. Kennedy’s personal belongings up for bid next month in an auction timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the president’s death.

“The Legends Auction” will feature more than 1,500 items, photos, letters and documents owned by Kennedy and his contemporaries and will take place over the course of three days starting on Nov. 22.

The collection is more than double the size of the one auctioned off by McInnis earlier this year, and appraiser Dan Meader said he expects this auction will also generate headlines around the globe.

“This is a big auction; we’re pretty excited about it,” Meader said.

Meader said the auction is a direct result of the attention generated by the first Kennedy auction, when dozens of people from around the country heard about the David Powers sale and asked if they could have their own Kennedy items included in the sale as well. Powers was a close personal friend of Kennedy, and his family put up his collection of memorabilia after it was discovered during the process of moving.

To protect the integrity of the Powers estate, McInnis didn’t accept any additional items from other owners. Meader did collect callers’ contact information, and after the auction was over, he began reaching out to the people and pulling together the second sale.

“This is the continuation of that last auction,” Meader said. “We’ve been working on this since that February auction, and the situation with this particular auction is we have a number of individual collections. The Dave Powers auction was one specific owner, and this is a number of different owners.”

Among the owners whose items will be auctioned off include the heirs to Hollywood mogul Milton Ebbins and Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Peter Lawford; close friends and associates of Kennedy including Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings; a collection of items relating to Ernest Hemingway; and original negatives by Hy Peskin and Jacques Lowe, who was the Kennedys’ personal photographer.

“There are so many things in photography, you can’t even imagine,” Meader said. “So many photographs that have never been seen before are going to be in this sale.”

Meader highlighted a number of unused negatives taken by Peskin for a Life Magazine spread published in 1953, as well as never before seen photos of the president attending a Red Sox game.

The auction will also include Kennedy’s fedora hat; an authentic blazer with the presidential logo on the cuffs and buttons; the rocking chair that he used at his home in Hyannis; an original bronze sculpture of Kennedy created by Felix de Weldon, who also did the Iwo Jima monument in Arlington, Va.; and a framed collection of 52 bill signing pens used by Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to sign iconic pieces of legislation into effect, including the Peace Corps, the Civil Rights Act, the “Man on the Moon” bill and so on.

Beside the Kennedy specific items, Meader said there will be many items that movie and fashion enthusiasts would be interested in as well. Considering their connection to Hollywood, the Ebbin and Lawford collection in particular includes items that fans of the Rat Pack would love to see, including original movie scripts, contracts and memos.

“This collection shows the behind-the-scenes stuff that you never get to see. It’s great for people who love the movies and Hollywood, but also the people who study the history of moviemaking,” Meader said. “If they want to see the late ’50s, early ’60s vintages, this incorporates all of that.”

There will also be a collection of Jacques Lowe photos of Jackie Kennedy, which will be auctioned off to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society according to the former first lady’s wishes.

“Jackie Kennedy, before she passed away, donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society her own personal collection of Jacques Lowe photographs,” Meader said. “They had been used for exhibition purposes to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in events across the country, and then they were also put into museums across the country to benefit the society.”

“They called us and they decided that this would be the appropriate time, being the 50th anniversary, that they had done all they could with the exhibits and this would be the time to maximize Jackie’s donation,” Meader continued. “So they’ve decided to sell them, and the money from that will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”

Meader said the auction house is still working on coming up with a specific schedule for the event, but the collection will likely be open for preview the week prior to Nov. 22, and then the first day of auction will begin in the afternoon, following a moment of silence at the time Kennedy was killed.

Then, there will be daylong auctions continuing on Saturday and Sunday until the entire collection has been sold off, he said.

Ultimately, Meader said that while the auction will commemorate a somber occasion, the contents of the sale itself will largely focus on happier times in Kennedy’s life, when he got to relax, spend time with friends and vacation in Hollywood and Cape Cod.

“A lot of the stuff that we have is when the president relaxed,” Meader said. “The Hollywood part of it, he went out there to have fun, and have a good time, he went to the Cape to have fun and a good time, so we’re going to show during such a somber time, a happier time in the president’s life.”

For more information about the sale, visit or call 800-822-1417.