If there was ever any doubt that John F Kennedy, the slain American President, was a hopeless romantic, if not an out-and-out rake with a foggy grasp of the commitments of marriage, a collection of love letters written in his own hand to a straw-haired Swedish siren will surely put it to rest.
True, the then young senator from Massachusetts first met the woman in question, Gunilla von Post, before his marriage to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier -- but by only a month.
It was the summer of 1953 and the pair -- he 36 and she just 21 -- were both on holiday on the French Riviera. They danced all night and parted with a moonlit kiss.
Kennedy began corresponding with Ms von Post, mostly in the hope of organising a clandestine reunion, a dream that was at first thwarted but finally resulted in a week-long assignation in Sweden.
The details of the affair were made public by Ms von Post herself in a book and an interview with ABC News in the US in 1997. But only now are the 11 letters written by Mr Kennedy, many filled with swooning language, coming to light.
"Do you remember our dinner and evening together this summer at Antibes and Cagnes," Mr Kennedy asks in the first of the letters, sent in March 1954, five months after his marriage to Jackie and six months after meeting Ms von Post. "How are you? -- and what are you now doing in Paris, you said you were going to work for an airline. Do you -- and do you fly to the United States. I expect to return to France in September. Will you be there?"
Bidding for the letters through an online auction began on Monday with an opening price of $25,000 (€18,140). By yesterday morning, however, four bids were registered, with the last standing already at $32,500.
In the last letter dated August 1955, Kennedy admits that his wife and sister were arriving and adds ruefully. "It will all be complicated, the way I feel now -- my Swedish flicka [little girl]".