The Kennedy Era

Auction Details

  • Auction:
    October 7, 12PM ET

  • Public Preview:
    October 6, 11AM - 8PM

  • Location:
    Americas Society
    680 Park Ave
    New York, NY 10065

  • Online Bidding:

  • Absentee Bidding:
    By e-mail, mail and telephone

Featured Lots

Naval Dress Swords & Scabbards

Robert Berks Heroic Bronze Bust of JFK

Aaron Shikler, Portrait of Pres. John F. Kennedy

JFK's Personal H. Upmann Cigars

Jacqueline Kennedy's Black Lace Mantilla

Original Rocker used by
John F. Kennedy & President Lyndon B. Johnson

Text of Kennedy/Khrushchev Message and Cuba/Weapons Proclamation

The Auction

In this, the one hundredth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth, Guernsey's is excited to announce that on October 7, the auction house will be conducting its third event focusing on the late President. *Following a preview exhibition, the Auction will be held live at 680 Park Avenue. Those unable to attend can bid via various online bidding platforms. (*Guernsey's 1998 and 2005 John F. Kennedy auctions are still widely spoken of to this day.)

At the core of the sale will be the Lt. Henry Hirschy Collection. Lt. Hirschy was stationed in the White House throughout the JFK presidency and indeed, it was the Lieutenant's Naval sword that was chosen to be displayed for thirty days in the East Room of the White House honoring the late President as a sorrowful nation mourned. Importantly, the auction will also include the second, matching Naval sword chosen for the momentous occasion. Among other treasures within the Hirschy Collection is one of the late President’s leather “bomber” jackets and rare transcripts of Mr. Kennedy’s most noteworthy speeches including his address to the Nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and his "Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

Complementing the Hirschy Collection will be the Jacqueline Kennedy-related property of Mary Gallagher, former personal secretary to Mrs. Kennedy from 1957 to 1964, and whose book My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy was an international best seller.

Important artistic renderings of President Kennedy will be featured in the sale including the original oil on canvas, intimate portrait created by noted artist Aaron Shikler. Mr. Shikler’s full body portrait of the President is the much-admired painting chosen by the Kennedy family to permanently hang in the White House. Also being sold are several original versions of sculpture Robert Berks iconic bust of the President. Rarest of these are two of what are believed to be only six castings of his heroic-sized bronzes.

For more complete information, please visit or contact the New York auction house.

Auction Update: Previously Unannounced Items

Over the last month, news has been circulating regarding Guernsey’s October 7th Auction focusing on President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, and other important figures from the early 1960’s. Of particular note will be the Francis Gary Powers Collection consisting of many historic items relating to Powers’ failed Cold War espionage mission. The Auction will be held live in NYC at 680 Park Avenue while absentee bidders can participate by phone and online.

The two Naval Officer’s swords that were chosen to stand in the White House symbolic of the late President remain amongst the most significant items in this, or any, auction. But Guernsey’s has just released information about a number of other treasured items in the sale. The “Restofus” is a terrific 17’ mahogany speed boat owned by the Kennedys and often driven by JFK. One of the President’s famed rocking chairs was gifted by Jackie Kennedy to NYC’s charismatic Mayor Ed Koch; this chair will be offered along with another JFK rocker from Air Force One. And what is believed to be the only known privately-owned watercolor painted by Mr. Kennedy when he was President will also be sold. Also included will be a canvas tote bag (+ balls) used by 24 year-old Jack Kennedy to carry golf balls.

The Auction will be featuring several historically significant film-related lots. One of these is unreleased twenty second footage (along with its 8mm camera) of the President on the morning of the assassination. Two massive canisters of exposed film come from the Powers U-2 spy mission over the Soviet Union. Though not film-related but also of great historic importance is a letter in the Auction from President Kennedy to Sir Winston Churchill. In this hand-annotated document, the President is requesting permission to name a nuclear Polaris submarine in honor of the British Prime Minister. In the letter, Kennedy writes, “Providence for war is the best prevention of it.” Yet another historic item reflecting on the diversity of the Auction is the South Vietnamese flag removed from Saigon during the frenzied helicopter evacuation of U.S. personnel.

In this, the one hundredth year since John F. Kennedy’s birth, it seems most fitting that an auction be held honoring the late President and reflecting on the tumultuous times that surrounded him. Those interested in the event should visit or contact the New York-based auction house directly.

The Mary B. Gallagher Collection

Mary Gallagher is the former personal secretary to Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy from 1957 to 1964. Before that, she was Sen. John F. Kennedy’s secretary and worked briefly for Jackie’s mother. Her book My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy was an international best-seller, and it provided an inside look at the iconic Jackie, behind closed doors, the first lady and woman the world fell in love with.

Mary Barelli Gallagher was born and grew up in Boston. She first worked for a local paper company. Through Kenny O’Donnell, a former salesman for the company, she was hired by the newly-elected Senator John Kennedy to be a secretary in his office. She then went to Washington in January 1953. After her first child was born, she became a part-time secretary to Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss. Finally, she became Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal secretary early in 1957 until the year of 1964.

Mrs. Gallagher described Jacqueline Kennedy as being a woman born to cause excitement wherever she went. Gallagher was privy to Mrs. Kennedy in her White House years as well as the years of her marriage before John F. Kennedy took office. She watched Mrs. Kennedy as she restored the White House, worked closely with her in the family quarters and was even with Jackie on that black day Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. During her time with the Kennedy's Gallagher saved rare notes, photos, and gifts. Guernsey's is proud to include these invaluable items in our upcoming auction.

The Lt. Henry Hirschy Collection

Lieutenant Henry Hirschy served in the White House from May 1, 1961, through May 31, 1965. Hirschy was the Supply and Logistics Officer for the Military Aides to the President and Officer-in-Charge of the Navy Mess in the White House during both the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations.

Born in Massachusetts in 1932. Hirschy grew up during the Great Depression and started working at a very early age. Through much hard work, Hirschy graduated from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in 1955 and during this time, joined the Navy Supply Corps. He was later in the Vietnam War providing total supply support for the South Vietnamese Navy.

Due to his extensive experience, Hirschy landed a job at the White House. A very demanding job, Hirschy was the Supply Officer for all of the presidential yachts and all supplies needed at Camp David. The job also entailed that he was to run the executive dining facilities in the White House. These facilities were used by the top 100 people on the administrative staff.

Hirschy worked for President Kennedy helping to coordinate a glittering series of state dinners, receptions, and festivities all over the world during the Camelot years. His duties also included taking care of the President’s needs on overseas trips, aboard the presidential yachts and at Camp David. After JFK's death, he continued on working for Lyndon B. Johnson.

Lieutenant Hirschy's Navy Issued Ceremonial Sword was one of the two selected to be displayed for thirty days in the East Room of the White House honoring the late President as a sorrowful nation mourned. Guernsey's is honored to have the sword and much more in our upcoming auction.

The Francis Gary Powers Collection

Were the above two collections not extraordinary enough, the auction house has chosen to also include in the event the Francis Gary Powers Espionage Collection as provided by Mr. Powers' son. Following a distinguished career in the Air Force, Captain Powers joined the CIA where his piloting efforts proved critical during the height of the Cold War. Shot down while on a espionage mission over the Soviet Union, it was the Francis Gary Powers / U-2 saga that became the basis for the recently popular Steven Spielberg motion picture, Bridge of Spies.

Francis Gary Powers (1929-1977), was an American pilot whose CIA U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission in Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident.

Powers was an Air Force captain who joined the CIA's U-2 program in 1956. U-2 pilots flew espionage missions at altitudes above 70,000 feet above the reach of Soviet air defenses. The U-2 was equipped with a state-of-the-art camera designed to take high-resolution photos from the edge of the stratosphere over hostile countries, including the Soviet Union. U-2 missions systematically photographed military installations and other important sites.

The primary purpose of the U-2s was overflying Russia, which had never been done. On May 1, 1960, Powers' attempted "to fly all the way across" but was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.Powers lost control of the jet and began spinning towards the ground. He managed to escape but did not have time to activate the planes self-destruct mechanism. He hit the ground and was captured by Soviet officials. Powers was interrogated extensively by the KGB for months before he made a confession and a public apology for his part in espionage.

On August 19, 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage. His sentence consisted of ten years confinement, three of which were to be in prison, with the remainder in a labor camp. Powers was held in Vladimir Central Prison, Gary and kept journals while confined. He could send and receive a limited number of letters from his family.

On February 10, 1962, he was finally exchanged, in a well-publicized spy swap at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin. The exchange was for the Soviet spy "Rudolf Abel," who had been caught by the FBI and tried and jailed for espionage. When released, Powers' total time in captivity was one year, nine months and ten days.

Powers returned to pilot jets for the Lockheed Corporation. Despite much backlash from the American public who labeled him a defector, years later the CIA published a report on Francis Gary Powers' conduct, saying he acted honorably throughout his service - and entirely per the instructions given to him.

Power's legendary story was a worldwide phenomenon at the time of the Cold War and in the early days of the Kennedy administration. Guernsey's is honored to have these essential and historical items, provided by his son, expert public speaker on the U-2 Incident and Cold War historian, Francis Gary Powers Jr.

The nearly one hundred lots in the Francis Gary Powers Collection will include such espionage treasures as his flight suit and trench coats, his writings while imprisoned in the Soviet Union and rare Russian propaganda posters.

For additional information visit or contact Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280. For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact Lori Rosen at 212.255.8910 or

Online Bidding

Those who are interested in participating can view the full catalogue online, and leave advance absentee bids, as well as bid live as the sale is taking place at and


Interested bidders should also review the Terms & Conditions, as well as the Bidder Agreement form, and the Absentee Bid form.


Guernsey's welcomes inquiries from the media regarding both past and upcoming events. PDF copies of the press release and links to media coverage of our John F. Kennedy Auction are available below:

Press Release (October 7)