Lansing, IL - February 15, 2010 - "I just got word today - that my wife and sister are coming here. It will all be complicated the way I feel now - my Swedish flicka." - from a letter to Gunilla von Post from Senator John F. Kennedy, August 22, 1955.
Legendary Auctions, a premier Sports and Americana auction house, has announced that it will offer a collection of personal letters and telegrams exchanged between then-Senator John F. Kennedy and a young Swedish woman, Gunilla von Post, between March, 1954 and the late summer of 1956. The fourteen correspondence pieces -- eleven letters and three telegrams -- recount the long-distance relationship as it ignites and unfolds. Online bidding on the collection, never before seen in its entirety, will begin on February 15 and conclude on Wednesday, March 3 at www.legendaryauctions.com.
It all started in August, 1953. Just a few weeks before a 35-year old Senator John F. Kennedy was to wed Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, he vacationed on the French Riviera. While there, Kennedy met a 21-year old blonde named Gunilla von Post, a Swedish woman with aristocratic roots. The two shared a romantic evening, capped by a passionate kiss. Obviously, the evening had a lasting impact on Kennedy. Six months after becoming acquainted with von Post, despite his marriage to Jackie and increasing immersion in politics, Kennedy went to the trouble of locating the Swedish beauty in Stockholm. For the next eighteen months, the two traded intimate communications with each other, ultimately reuniting for a week-long holiday in Sweden during August, 1955.
After returning to the U.S., Kennedy and von Post continued to converse over the phone. In her book, Love, Jack, von Post recounts how Kennedy attempted to persuade her to move to the U.S. Ultimately, Kennedy told von Post he had confided his love for her to his father and sought counsel for considering a divorce. In no uncertain terms, the elder Kennedy told Jack divorce was impossible. Eventually, von Post moved on with her life, eventually marrying on July 18, 1956.
John Reznikoff, president of University Archives, a recognized historical autograph and documents expert and authenticator, believes the collection of JFK love letters is extraordinary for a number of reasons. According to Reznikoff, the mere fact that the letters were penned in Kennedy's own hand makes them valuable. That, combined with the reality that the letters "tell" the story of the relationship in real human terms and identifies some of the toll it took on Kennedy, makes them that more incredible. "It is no secret that President Kennedy was fallible. Who isn't? That isn't the revelation of these letters," said Reznikoff. "The real discovery is the window they provide into the complicated and conflicted existence that was Kennedy's life. Historians have given Kennedy many labels. None are perhaps more poignant than that of 'human' - which is so aptly evident in these letters. The letters give us one more puzzle piece of the man that was JFK."
For more than a half-century, these pieces of presidential history have remained in the possession of von Post. In the past, her story has been told through a series of interviews and in a book, Love, Jack, detailing the Kennedy relationship. But the actual letters have remained cloistered and protected, never viewed by the public. Now, at age 89, von Post wants to ensure that the letters and the aspects of JFK they represent are not lost to history.
Doug Allen, CEO and president of Legendary Auctions, said that ideally von Post would like the letters to be purchased by a museum. Her next preference is that a collector purchases the collection, preserves it and keeps it intact. Per von Post's wishes, Legendary Auctions has agreed to sell the letters and telegrams as a collection, not as individual lots. "The impact of the story would be lost if they were sold individually," said Allen. "While any signed Kennedy document is worth a significant amount, the value of this collection increases exponentially when offered in its entirety." According to Allen, the JFK love letters are among the most unique presidential-related items he has seen in his more than 20 years of industry experience. "It's hard to believe that the man who wrote these letters is the same one that handled the Cuban Missile Crisis and claimed 'Ich bin ein Berliner' at the Nuremberg Gate," said Allen. "His political actions demonstrated world leadership. These letters demonstrated his heart. The dichotomy is fascinating." Allen believes auction interest in the JFK love letters will be substantial. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime offering," said Allen. "The collection has all of the elements that inspire heavy bidding - rarity, uniqueness, first-time offering. It's the type of item collectors go to war over." For additional information on the auction of John F. Kennedy love letters or to pre-register to receive an auction catalog or to bid, call (708) 889-9380 or go to www.legendaryauctions.com