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  • Are Kennedy auctions in poor taste?
  • Post author
    Will Davison
  • AreauctionsinKennedy

Are Kennedy auctions in poor taste?

"Auction of John F. Kennedy memorabilia timed to the 50th anniversary of his assassination: Is this in poor taste?"

That was the headline in a recent US news article.

It references Heritage Auctions' sale of a John F Kennedy rocking chair and Oval Office flags, taking place on November 23, just a day after the 50th anniversary of his death.

John F Kennedy rocking chair
Kennedy's rocking chair is selling a day after the 50th anniversary of his death

Yet it could have been discussing any number of auctions of JFK memorabilia designed to coincide with the commemorations, including this month's $29,952 RR Auction sale of a sketch Kennedy made the day before he was assassinated.

I am not insensitive to the idea that timing auctions with tragic events can upset some people. Some call it distasteful, even disrespectful.

I respect those opinions.

Yet there is also another side to it.

From my experience in the industry, there is widespread understanding and acceptance among the collectibles-buying community that important anniversaries are the time to sell.

Look at the major Titanic sales timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship in 1912, or the Marilyn Monroe auctions last year on the 50th anniversary of her death.

If you had been holding on to a Kennedy item for years, when would you choose to sell it? When interest was going to be at its highest peak to date? That would be the sensible thing to do!

And I have a further question.

Are those who now want to own Kennedy memorabilia after being moved by the 50th commemorations also being disrespectful?

Is it not perhaps more a sign of mankind's desire to remember and respect the great people of our times? That is a touching notion, not a disrespectful one.

If people want to own these items, somebody needs to be selling them.

And there is a point to be made here that particularly relates to Kennedy.

Like James Dean's premature death, Kennedy's assassination very much fashioned our perception of him - encouraging the image of the great man cut short in his prime, an image that helps make rare pieces of his memorabilia so sought after today. So to state that the 50th anniversary of his death should be a sacred time, free of auctions, seems a little confused to me.

I am, of course, biased on these matters.

At Paul Fraser Collectibles we do have a number of Kennedy items for sale, although we have been offering JFK pieces for a number of years.

My final question for you is. Should any memorabilia be off-limits?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Thanks for reading,


  • Post author
    Will Davison
  • AreauctionsinKennedy