Tuesday 20 February 2018

Rare photo of JFK with Monroe sold at auction

Edwina Lefoy in New York

Thousands of photographs of John F Kennedy taken by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton, including a rare image of Marilyn Monroe with the president and Robert Kennedy (right) at a Democratic fundraiser, sold for $151,000 (€114,000) at auction.

The Monroe photograph, contained in an envelope labelled 'Sensitive Material -- May 19, 1962' with 22 other gelatin silver prints of the event, sold for $9,150, above its pre-sale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000.

"It's the only image of the three of them together," said Matthew Haley, Bonhams' expert for books, manuscripts and historical photographs. "There are very few prints of this photo."

The collection was offered by Stoughton's estate at Bonhams auction house. It included 12,000 photographs.


Stoughton was the first official White House photographer. He captured public as well as intimate Kennedy moments.

About 60pc of the images are of public events. The rest are of private moments: the children's birthday parties; family Christmases, and vacations in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

One of Stoughton's most famous images shows Lyndon B Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One following Kennedy's assassination November 22, 1963. The photo shows Johnson with his hand raised taking the oath of office surrounded by his wife and Jacqueline Kennedy -- still wearing her blood-splattered dress. It sold for $13,420, above its pre-sale estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.

"It is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century," said Haley.

Johnson signed it: "To Cecil Stoughton, with high regards and appreciation, Lyndon B Johnson."

In the immediate chaotic aftermath of the assassination, Stoughton learned that Johnson was being sworn in on the aircraft on a Dallas airfield and rushed over in a car, said Haley.

As he was running across the tarmac, "the Secret Service thought it was another assassination attempt and almost fired" at him, he said.

The Monroe picture with the two Kennedy brothers was saved from being destroyed by the Secret Service.

It was taken at a private Manhattan residence right after the actress famously sang 'Happy Birthday' to the president at Madison Square Garden.

Haley said: "There apparently was a directive to the Secret Service that Monroe not be photographed with the president."

Irish Independent

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