AMESBURY, Mass. – A private collection of John F. Kennedy memorabilia brought in almost $2 million at auction, including $570,000 for the former president’s Air Force One leather bomber jacket.
The collection of about 2,000 photographs, documents, gifts and other items was auctioned Sunday at John McInnis Auctioneers in Amesbury.
The items belonged to David Powers, Kennedy’s assistant and close personal friend who died in 1998.
The jacket, like many of the items, sold to an anonymous bidder for much more than expected.
It was emblazoned with the presidential seal sewn on the front, and 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. The pre-auction price was just $20,000 to $40,000.
An American flag that flew at the White House during the Kennedy administration went for $21,000, even though the price was $3,000 to $6,000.
A photo of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy on their wedding day signed by the couple sold for $9,750 even though the pre-auction price was $2,000 to $5,000.
The 723-lot auction that drew international attention also offered other items affordable to the general public.
Rich Travaglione of Nantucket paid $525 for a 1946 photo of JFK.
Travaglione said his late father, who was 15 around the time Kennedy ran for Congress, met the candidate when he was campaigning in Boston’s North End. Travaglione’s father introduced Kennedy to many of the residents, creating a lasting memory for the younger man.
“That particular time was important to me and my father,” Travaglione told the Daily News of Newburyport.
Donnie Greenwell of Waverly, Ky., snapped up two speeches written by Kennedy, “We Must Be Worthy of Our Times” during his run for U.S. Congress in 1946 for $500 and “Why I Am a Democrat,” written around the same time for $550.
The auction house said Powers’ relatives found the collection locked away last year as they prepared to sell the family home. Powers’ family is keeping some memorabilia and may give some to the Kennedy Library.
About 350 people attended the auction, with another 1,000 online bidders.
Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer said the town was “proud” to host the auction.