LANSING, Ill. – Legendary Auctions has sold the collection of personal letters and telegrams exchanged between then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy and a young Swedish woman, Gunilla von Post, for more than $115,000. The auction of the letters attracted bidders from around the globe. The winning bidder, a West Coast collector, wishes to remain anonymous. The 14 correspondence pieces — 11 letters and 3 telegrams — recount the long-distance relationship as it ignites and unfolds between March 1954 and the late summer of 1956.
Doug Allen, CEO and president of Legendary Auctions, was pleased with the results of the auction. “Our expectation was around $50,000, but we were aware the collection could go much higher,” said Allen. “The fact that the letters topped six figures and attracted international bidders provides ample evidence that the global legacy of JFK endures.”
The story of the letters began 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 18 months, the two traded intimate communications with each other, ultimately reuniting for a week-long holiday in Sweden during August 1955.
After he returned 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 in considering a divorce. In no uncertain terms, the elder Kennedy told Jack that divorce was impossible. Not long after this call, Kennedy reached out to von Post again and informed her that his wife was pregnant. It was then that von Post decided it was time to move on with her life, eventually marrying on July 18, 1956. A chance encounter in New York City almost two years later was the last time the two saw each other.
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 person that handled the Cuban Missile Crisis and claimed ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ at the Brandenburg Gate,” said Allen. “His political actions demonstrated world leadership. These letters demonstrated his heart. The dichotomy is fascinating.”
For additional information on Legendary Auctions, call 708-889-9380 or visit www.legendaryauctions.com.
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