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The John F Kennedy Family Homes Auction

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Sotheby’s has announced that it will sell fine and decorative arts from the home of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy in Hyannis Port as well as other family homes in Martha’s Vineyard, New Jersey, New York City and Virginia. The auction, which will include more than 600 lots, will take place in Sotheby’s New York galleries from February 15-17, 2005, with the pre-sale exhibition opening on Wednesday, February 9th and extending through 1:00 PM on February 14th. An illustrated catalogue, which is available beginning today, will feature never before seen interior photographs of the Kennedy homes as well as seldom seen candid images of the Kennedy family. The auction is expected to bring in excess of $1 million.

The property is consigned by Caroline Kennedy, who in her introduction to the catalogue, wrote: “After my mother died in 1994, my brother and I were faced with the task of deciding what to do with her possessions, and after careful consideration, we sold some of them in 1996. In the intervening years, and the death of my brother, I found myself again with more houses and belongings than I could possibly use or enjoy. As we did before, I have given anything of historical significance to the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation which will make it accessible to scholars and to the public, and I have kept those things that mean the most to me and to my children.” A portion of the proceeds from the auction and the sale of the catalogue will go to The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and other charities.

Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

Senator and Mrs. Kennedy purchased the shingle-clad residence
in Hyannis Port in 1956. Adjacent to two other homes owned by
the Kennedy family, the three houses formed a compound of six
acres on Nantucket Sound. It was in this home in November 1960
that John F. Kennedy learned he had been elected President when
his daughter woke him up saying “Good morning, Mr. President.”
The residence then served as the summer White House while President
Kennedy was in office. It was a warm and informal environment,
furnished by Mrs. Kennedy with American furniture, folk art,
hooked rugs, ceramics and Sandwich glass.

significant portion of the furniture and decorations in the
Kennedy’s Hyannis Port home was part of a collection of furniture
and folk art purchased by the Kennedy family from Gerald Shea,
a highly-regarded dealer in American decorative arts in the
1950s and 60s. Among the works from the Shea Collection to be
offered is a Portrait of Captain Platt out of Portsmouth, with
a Clipper Ship in the Distance, attributed to Frederick Mayhew,
circa 1830, which hung behind President Kennedy in an official
portrait taken during the summer of 1960. Captured in that iconic
photograph, which would eventually grace the cover of the November
16, 1960 issue of Life Magazine, the painting of a sea captain
is estimated to sell for $7/9,000 (lot 196). Also from the Shea
Collection is a Federal Walnut and Cherry Worktable, New England,
early 19th century (lot 17, est. $800/1,200); a Baroque Fruitwood
Armchair, early 18th century (lot 18, est. $1,500/2,000); a
Queen Anne Maple Flat-Top Highboy, New England, circa 1740 (lot
57, est. $4/6,000); and a William and Mary Turned-Maple and
Pine-Topped Oval Tavern Table, New England, early 18th century
(lot 14, est. $200/300).

Among the other works of fine art associated with Hyannis Port
is The Breakwater by American artist Ogden Pleissner (1905-1983),
a beautiful watercolor of the harbor with a plaque on the reverse,
“Presented by Hyannis Port Neighbors, 1965. In memory of
John F. Kennedy” (lot 41, est. $8/12,000); and The John
F. Kennedy House in Hyannis Port, a watercolor by Elizabeth
Mumford, which is signed and dated 1980 (lot 1, est. $1/1,500).

Jacqueline Kennedy and her mother-in-law, Rose Kennedy, both
enjoyed collecting Sandwich Glass – the term which originally
referred to glass made by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Co.
on Cape Cod, but over time, came to encompass glass made in
the United States in the 19th century. The auction will include
numerous lots of glass tablewares from the 19th century and
later, including a Group of Six Mold-Blown and Pressed Cobalt-Blue
Glass Tablewares (lot 75, est. $500/700); and a Group of Five
Amethyst Glass Tablewares (lot 78, est. $250/350).

Among the other tablewares and ceramics to be offered are a
Copeland, Spode ‘Italian Pattern’ Part Service, late 19th and
20th century, comprising 235 pieces and estimated to sell for
$3/5,000 (lot 98); various groupings of Table Linens, including
pale blue napkins monogrammed JBK (lot 180), with estimates
ranging from $100 to $600; a Davenport Porcelain Botanical Dessert
Service, second quarter 19th century (lot 594, est. $3/5,000)
and a Group of Twenty-Five English and American Pewter Wares,
from the Shea Collection, 18th century and later (lot 183, est.

Martha’s Vineyard

In 1979 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis bought a large piece of
almost completely undeveloped property on a rise overlooking
the Atlantic Ocean in Martha’s Vineyard and designed and built
a house to be used primarily during the summer. Inspired by
the vernacular of a New England seaside cottage, the house had
a shingled exterior with a central front door and chimney. The
main rooms on the ground floor opened directly towards the sea
with extensive patios and picture windows. It was furnished
with New England Country furniture, rag rugs and masses of books,
reinforcing its place as a private retreat for family and friends.

Complementing the country furniture and decorations from Martha’s
Vineyard are fine examples of American and English Marine art,
among which is a pencil and colored pencil drawing of The Vineyard
Sound Light Ship No. 7, American School, 19th / 20th century
(lot 154, est. $4/6,000). Also of a nautical theme is a painting
of An American Sailing Ship Near Hong Kong, Chinese School,
19th century (lot 158, est. $10/15,000); and a painting of the
ship Horace B. Parker, by American artist W.E. Shibbs (lot 208,
est. $4/6,000), which can be seen in photographs hanging above
the fireplace in the dining room. From the ground-floor living
room, which had a breath-taking view of the water, is a small
oil painting by Augustus John, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife
Dorelia Before a Banner, executed circa 1910-1911 (lot 159,
est. $20/30,000) and a charming Pair of Hand-Colored Seashell
Etchings, circa 1800, (lot 156-157, est. $400/600).

New Jersey

Beginning in 1965, Mrs. Kennedy began to spend weekends with
her children about an hour from New York in the heart of New
Jersey hunt country. The family rented and then bought a simple
home in Peapack, New Jersey – a converted barn in a valley which
was ideally situated for riding and fox hunting. A keen horsewoman
since her early childhood, Mrs. Kennedy soon joined the Essex
Hunt, which was established in 1870 and incorporated in Peapack
in 1913. The layout of the house was centered around a large
room used as the living room and dining room. In addition to
several bedrooms upstairs, there was also a library filled with
floor-to-ceiling bookcases as well as an area off the kitchen
where riding boots and tack were kept.

A Provincial Paneled Pine Wall Cupboard (lot 389, est. $2/3,000)
is among the furniture from the New Jersey residence to be offered.
Also included are a Pair of Bleached Wood Coffee Tables, 20th
century (lots 410-411, est. $600/800 each); a lovely Pair of
Wrought-and-Gilt Iron Wall-Mounted Pricket Sticks, with leaf-decorated
scrolling arms (lot 408, est. $200/300); and a Painted Ribbed
Pottery Lamp (lot 506, est. $100/150). Demonstrative of Mrs.
Kennedy’s passion for horses is a painting of The Hunting Party
at Chantilly, by the Circle of Van der Muelen, which is estimated
to sell for $15/20,000 (lot 409).


In the 1990s Mrs. Onassis began to spend more time riding
in Virginia and in the countryside where she had foxhunted as
a First Lady. She rented a small cottage near Middleburg, not
far from “Wexford”, the house she had built when President
Kennedy was in The White House. The cottage was furnished with
country antiques accented by French toile wallpaper. It provided
an escape from the city, and a return to a community filled
with happy memories.

The presence of horses in Mrs. Onassis’ life is evidenced by
a group of riding tack and horse blankets included in the auction.
Turn-Out Rugs, Show Coolers, Rain Sheets and Blankets (lots
520-524), all bearing the diamond pattern monogram of JOK will
be offered. Among a Group of Tack is a bridle, several bits,
a martingale, a leather lead rope and a shipping halter with
a plaque reading Town Clown. (Estimates range from $75 to $300.
Lots 531A-C.) Also included is a Blue Acrylic Tack Trunk with
a white monogram, JOK (lot 530, est. $800/1,200). Among the
equestrian-inspired art included in the Kennedy’s residences
is a lovely depiction of a Ladies Hunter Class, by American
artist Henry Koehler (lot 528, est. $5/7,000).

New York

Mrs. Onassis lived at 1040 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East
Side of New York for 30 years in a 17-story building designed
by Rosario Candela, widely considered to be one of the foremost
designers of luxury apartment buildings during the 1920s and
30s. The living room, dining room, library and master bedroom
looked out on to the Central Park Reservoir, which was later
renamed in Mrs. Onassis’ memory. Mrs. Onassis loved having fires
in the three fireplaces and simple arrangements of cornflowers
in the spring, dried hydrangeas in the fall and lady apples
in the winter. The refined and sophisticated decoration was
based on Gallic inspiration, with French fabrics, furniture
and paneling, true to her great interest in and love of France
and its culture.

Among the items from the New York apartment to be offered are
a Tortoiseshell-Painted and Gilt-Wood Long Mirror, last quarter
20th century (lot 547, est. $2/3,000); Studies of a Bison and
a Gnu, by Aert Schouman (lots 571-572, est. $3/5,000 each);
a Pair of Louis XVI Gray-Painted Suede-Upholstered Bergères
en Cabriolet, last quarter 18th century (lot 582, est. $6/8,000);
a Painted and Wood Drafting Table and Rush-Seat Stool, 20th
century (lot 580, est. $600/800); and a Chinese Metal Mounted
Red-Lacquered Gilt Decorated Writer’s Box (lot 581, est. $400/600).

White House

auction will also include a selection of furniture and decorations
from the private family quarters of the White House when the
Kennedys were in residence. Among the items to be offered is
a Victorian Mahogany and Upholstered Chaise Longue, late 19th
century, from Mrs. Kennedy’s Dressing Room in The White House
(lot 372, est. $400/600); a Set of Eight Louis XVI Style Gray-Painted
Dining Chairs (lot 354, est. $2/3,000); a Louis XV Style White-Painted
Serpentine-Front Chest of Drawers, from The White House Nursery
(lot 373, est. $1,500/2,000); and a Swiss Continental Pine Armoire,
mid-19th century, exuberantly painted with wood graining, marbling
and flower-filled urns (lot 380, est. $2/3,000).

President Kennedy’s well-known love of the sea was reflected
in some of his possessions. His collection of scrimshaw has
been well documented and he also collected Maritime art and
ship models. Some of these were displayed in the Oval Office
– varying from whaling rowboats to a model PT109, the boat he
commanded in World War II. Among the ship models included in
the auction is an American Painted Wood Ship Model of The Clipper
Ship Ann McKim, mid-20th century, made by John J. Flynn (lot
388, est. $500/700). President Kennedy was given a sailboat,
“Victura”, for his 15th birthday by his parents, and
it would play an important role throughout his life. He won
races on it when he was a boy and drew doodles of it when he
was President. Included in the sale is one of the limited edition
prints of Jamie Wyeth’s enduring image of John F. Kennedy Sailing
in Victura, which was commissioned to celebrate the dedication
of the John F. Kennedy Library, October 20, 1979 (lot 387, est.

Present in all of the Kennedy homes were the rocking chairs
which had been recommended by Dr. Janet Travell to ease President
Kennedy’s severe back pain. In 1955, while he was still a senator,
John F. Kennedy acquired the first of what came to be called
a “Kennedy” Rocker. During his Presidency, these chairs
were in various locations, including The White House, Hyannis
Port, Hammersmith Farm in Newport, on the Presidential Yacht
the Honey Fitz and his parents’ home in Palm Beach. A Turned
Oak and Brown-Painted Rocking Armchair, North Carolina, 20th
century (lot 53, est. $4/6,000) will be included in the February


The Kennedys shared a passion for the arts and throughout their
lives and formed relationships with many artists. Aaron Shickler
was initially engaged by Jacqueline Kennedy to paint portraits
of her children in 1968. Subsequently, she asked him to paint
her official White House portrait as well as that of President
Kennedy. The auction will include a number of works by Shickler
including John and Caroline Reading: A Study, from 1968 (lot
160, est. $3/5,000); a jewel-like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
in a Sailboat (2 x 3 ins.) (lot 165, est. $3/5,000); and Portrait
of Jacqueline Kennedy with Caroline and John Jr., 1968, which
was painted in the living room of Mrs. Kennedy’s Fifth Avenue
apartment (lot 569, est. $8/12,000).

The sale will also include four works by her friend, the German
artist Franz Bueb (1919-1982), including Portrait of Jacqueline
Kennedy, a pen and ink drawing, which is estimated to sell for
$2/3,000 (lot 330) and Portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy in a Straw
Hat, in pen and ink with watercolor, which also carries an estimate
of $2/3,000 (lot 331).

During the Presidential campaign, William Walton, a close friend
of the Kennedys, was a pivotal figure in the victories in Wisconsin
and West Virginia and was the campaign coordinator in New York.
Originally from Jacksonville, Illinois, he went to Washington
to work for Life and then the New Republic. He left journalism
to devote himself to being an artist, and over time, his style
evolved from figurative to abstract. Included in the auction
are a number of works by Walton including Old State, a pen and
ink sketch of an estate, inscribed on the reverse, “For
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy from William Walton, May 29, 1963”
(lot 318, est. $700/900); and Statue of Andrew Jackson on Horseback,
inscribed on the reverse, “Andrew Jackson saluting JFK
on his 46th birthday” (lot 319, est. $500/700). A later,
more abstract work will also be offered, The Benign Sign for
JBK, which is estimated at $200/300 (lot 317).

Jacqueline Duhême painted a series of charming, miniature
pictures of the trip President and Mrs. Kennedy took to Paris
in 1961. Subsequently, Ms. Duhême gave this series to
the Kennedys and was invited to travel with the First Lady and
her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill, when they went to India
and Pakistan in 1962.

Princess Radziwill lived in London at the time and following
their trip, Mrs. Kennedy stopped there for two days on her way
back to Washington. In Resting Up, London. March 26, 1962, Duhême
has captured Mrs. Kennedy asleep in her sister’s house, being
visited by her nephew and his dog (lot 367, est. $500/700).


Among an interesting group of photographs to be offered is
a charming image of John F. Kennedy and John Jr. in a Rowboat,
taken by an anonymous photographer, circa 1962 (lot 671, est.
$200/250). Also included is the iconic image by George Tames,
entitled ‘The Loneliest Job’ (JFK in the Oval Office), which
shows the President, in a moment of reflection, leaning over
his desk in The White House. Signed, dated and annotated, N.Y.
Times in ink in the margin, the image was published in The New
York Times Magazine on February 19, 1961, and is estimated to
sell for $500/700 (lot 384). Stanley Tretick, best known for
his series of photographs taken of the Kennedys which were published
in Look Magazine between 1960 and 1964, is represented by a
photograph of the Kennedys entitled Hyannis Port, November 1960
(lot 375, est. $500/700). Several signed photographs of Senator
and Mrs. Kennedy Campaigning in Oregon and West Virginia by
Jacques Lowe (estimates ranging from $700 to $1,000) are also
included (lots 673,676, 677, 679, 680).


Books were an integral part of the life of Jacqueline Kennedy
Onassis. From childhood onwards, she was an avid reader, amassing
several thousand books over her lifetime. Working with books
later became her profession and for two years she worked as
an editor at Viking and then, from 1978 until her death in 1994,
she was an editor at Doubleday. The February auction features
books from the shelves of all of the residences mentioned, their
myriad topics reflecting the wide range of interests –history,
art, architecture, design, literature, travel, politics and
The White House, among other topics–of their reader. Among
the volumes are a Group of Books Relating to American Politics
and Policy, each bearing the Presidential bookplate of John
Fitzgerald Kennedy (lot 114, est. $500/700); a Group of Books
by or about John F. Kennedy, including Profiles in Courage,
Inaugural Edition (lot 122, est. $300/500); and a group of various
editions of White House Guides, including approximately two
from the Kennedy Presidency years, one from President Johnson’s
administration, fourteen from President Nixon’s, one from President
Ford’s and one from President Carter’s (lot 120, est. $100/200).

Other books to be offered include a Group of Books Relating
to France and French Literature (lot 465, est. $400/600); a
Group of Books Relating to Textiles (lot 464, est. $100/200);
a Group of Books Relating to India (lot 476, es t. $150/250);
and a Group of Books by or Edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
(lot 459, est. $300/500). Books and magazines which are indicative
of Mrs. Onassis’ interest in fashion and design include: Approximately
35 issues of Architectural Digest (most bearing annotations
in Mrs. Onassis’ hand) (lot 478, est. $100/200); a Group of
Apollo Magazines dating from 1977-1994 (lot 479, est. $100/200);
a Group of Magazines including several issues of Connoisseur
and The Magazine Antiques (lot 486, est. $100/200) and a Group
of Books Relating to Haute Couture, including Valentino, inscribed
“To Jackie/ with all my friendship/ and admiration/ Valentino/
Sept 1982” (lot 469, est. $100/200).

book which is representative of Mrs. Kennedy’s thirst for knowledge
and wide-ranging interests is Mai-Mai Sze, The Tao of Paintings,
A Study of the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting, 1963.
In 1966, Mrs. Kennedy took a course of ten lessons in Chinese
Painting and Calligraphy during a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.
This book was presented to her by her instructor, Hon Chew Hee,
with a lovely inscription and is offered together with two photographs
of Mrs. Kennedy taken while she was studying (lot 281, est.
$250/350). A charming memento from years spent in the White
House is a three-ring binder entitled TOM KITTEN alias TOM TERRIFIC
/THE WHITE HOUSE CAT. Comprising nine 8 x 10 gelatin prints
of Tom Kitten, Caroline Kennedy’s cat while she lived in The
White House, the book also bears the floral bookplate of Jacqueline
Bouvier Kennedy (lot 119, est. $100/200).


The sale will feature a small selection of jewelry and precious
objects belonging to Mrs. Onassis. Highlights include pieces
by Van Cleef & Arpels, among them a Lapis Lazuli and Diamond
Bracelet and Earclips (lot 657, est. $3/5,000) and a Colored
Stone and Diamond Girl Brooch (lot 658, est. $1,200/1,500).
Other pieces include a Silver-Topped Gold, Sapphire and Diamond
Flower Brooch (lot 661, est. $12/15,000); an Art Deco Rock Crystal
Sapphire and Diamond Bow Brooch (lot 662, est. $6/8,000); a
Black Velvet, Diamond, Coral and Emerald Purse, Cartier (lot
656, est. $3/4,000) and a Fabergé Gold and Enamel Triptych
Miniature Frame, circa 1900 (lot 664, est. $15/20,000).

The Catalogue

The catalogue will be available for purchase beginning December
1, 2004 by logging on to, or by calling (888)
752 0002. Catalogues can also be purchased at Sotheby’s galleries
in New York and London and will be necessary to attend the exhibition,
given the significant interest anticipated. Admission to the
exhibition will be granted to a random selection of those who
purchase the catalogues from December 1, 2004 through January
10, 2005. The price for the catalogues is $50 plus shipping
and handling. Further questions concerning catalogue sales should
be directed to (212) 894 1399.

Diana Phillips

Matthew Weigman

Lauren Gioia

(212) 606-7176

fax: (212) 606 7381

For more information visit

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