BOSTON – John F. Kennedy’s Harvard sweater sold for $34,140 at an auction conducted by RR Auction. The online auction closed Nov. 7.
The crimson red wool cardigan (above) with shawl collar featured a large black block-letter “H” for his alma mater, Harvard, knitted into the left breast. A label sewn into the collar is embroidered in red thread with his surname, “Kennedy.”
The sweater was acquired by cameraman Herman Lang while shooting a television network’s May 1964 interview of Jacqueline Kennedy: “Being a chilly day in May, Lang remarked to a Kennedy staff member that he was catching a cold. The woman offered Mr. Lang this Harvard sweater to wear while he was filming outside. Apparently everyone laughed at Lang because the sweater was too big for him, but it was only when somebody mentioned that it was the late President’s sweater and that his name was still stitched to the inside of the collar that Mr. Lang felt awkward wearing the cardigan. He decided, however, that ‘it was better than freezing to death.’ After completing his filming outdoors, he moved inside the house for Jacqueline Kennedy’s interview. When he attempted to return the sweater to a Kennedy insider he was told that he could keep it as a reminder of the late John F. Kennedy.” Provenance: Guernsey’s,1998.
In his short Harvard application essay, Kennedy famously concluded: “To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.” He indeed attained it, graduating cum laude as part of the class of 1940 with a bachelor of arts degree in government, concentrating on international affairs. His thesis, Appeasement in Munich, about British participation in the Munich Agreement, soon became a bestseller under the title Why England Slept. After graduating he briefly enrolled in the politically conservative Stanford Graduate School of Business in the fall of 1941, but soon left to join the Navy as part of the American effort in World War II.
“Kennedy’s Harvard sweater takes us back to an era of boundless American optimism,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction.
Highlights from the sale include:
– John F. Kennedy’s handwritten notes on Vietnam sold for $24,504.
– John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding altar railing gate from St. Mary’s Church (below) sold for $16,541.
– John F. Kennedy’s portable Fisher Allegro stereo sold for $13,859.
– John and Jacqueline Kennedy signed wedding photograph sold for $10,003.
– John F. Kennedy handwritten notes and doodles from Nov. 21, 1963, sold for $12,251.
– Jacqueline Kennedy handwritten letter to Air Force One consoler Godfrey T. McHugh, the military aide to President John F. Kennedy, sold for $14,700.
– Jacqueline Kennedy handwritten letter to Jim Bishop sold for $12,251.
– Jacqueline Kennedy group of original candid photographs of a 16-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier sold for $1,352.
The Fine Autographs and Artifacts auction from RR Auction began on Oct. 19 and concluded on Nov. 7. More details can be found online at www.rrauction.com.