Diary JFK kept as postwar Europe journalist fetches $718,000
April 27, 2017
A diary kept by a young John F. Kennedy during his brief stint as a journalist after World War II in which he reflected on Hitler and the weakness of the United Nations sold for more than $700,000 on Wednesday.
Boston-based RR Auction said the diary sold for $718,750, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $200,000. Joseph Alsop, a JFK collector from Beverly, outbid one other live and six telephone bidders in a packed house for the 61-page diary. Alsop, 71, plans to add it to his personal collection, auction officials said.
The diary is mostly typed but includes 12 handwritten pages. It was written in 1945 when the 28-year-old Kennedy was a correspondent for Hearst newspapers and traveled through a devastated Europe.
Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said the auction was thrilling, with bidders from around the country vying for the personal observations of the man who’d become president.
“My expectations were exceeded, but I’m not surprised because it’s such a significant and historic manuscript,” Livingston said.
He said the diary’s new owner is the nephew of brothers Joseph Alsop V and Stewart Alsop, two influential columnists during the Kennedy presidency.
Kennedy gave the diary to Deirdre Henderson, a research assistant in his campaign office in the late 1950s who now lives in the Boston area.
In the diary, Kennedy reflected on his time in a gutted Berlin and even saw Hitler’s bunker, speculating that he was not killed. He wrote that Hitler “had in him the stuff of which legends are made.” But Henderson said in an interview last month that should not be misinterpreted as sympathy for the German dictator.
“He said that in reference to the mystery surrounding him and not the evil he represented,” Henderson said.
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