Monday 11 December 2017

Jackie Kennedy letters withdrawn from auction

Fr Joseph Leonard with Jackie Kennedy
Fr Joseph Leonard with Jackie Kennedy
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

LETTERS from written by the late Jackie Kennedy to an Irish priest have been withdrawn from auction.

The correspondence between the wife of assassinated US president John F Kennedy to Fr Joseph Leonard in the 1960s had been expected to fetch up to €3m at an auction next month.

However, in a brief statement to the this afternoon, All Hallows College said they were being withdrawn from sale.

The reason for the withdrawal was not disclosed.

The statement said of the college and the Vincentians Fathers, of which Fr Leonard was a member, were now exploring with members of Mrs Kennedy’s family how best to preserve and curate this archive for the future.

The shock decision came following a blaze of publicity surrounding the letters.

It is understood the decision was made following contacts between the Kennedy family and All Hallows.

Mrs Kennedy began corresponding with Fr Leonard after meeting him on a trip to Ireland.

The correspondence between the two lasted from 1950 to 1964, when the priest passed away.

Auctioneer Philip Sheppard, who had been due to sell the letters on June 10, described them as “effectively the autobiography” of Jackie Kennedy.

He said there was “enormous interest” in them worldwide.

However, soon after the existence of the letters became known they were the subject of a legal dispute.

A court heard an expert on rare books Owen Felix O’Neill, with an address in Cahir, Co Tipperary, had copied the entire collection of letters.

He was required by a court to hand over the copies pending the outcome of legal proceedings taken against him by Sheppard’s Irish Auction House, which is based in Durrow, Co Laois.

Mr O’Neill had been acting as a consultant to Sheppard’s.

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