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Auctions feature Kennedy memorabilia and Whitney estate

April 23, 1999
Web posted at: 12:50 p.m. EDT (1650 GMT)

In this story:

Sotheby's holds Whitney auction


NEW YORK (CNN) -- The New York auction house R.M. Smythe & Co. held an auction Thursday to sell, among other things, the only known personally autographed ticket to President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural ball.

The ticket, which drew a top bid of $4,750, was issued to West Virginia Sen. Jennings Randolph and was signed by Kennedy during the gala, which was hosted by Frank Sinatra. With the 12-percent auction commission added, the total cost of the ticket was $5,320.

The ticket was sold with a black and white Kennedy Library photograph of the president and first lady entering the ball.

Also on the block in the auction at the venerable Algonquin Hotel near Times Square was the only original artwork by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to come to public auction. The high bidder, at $2,400, was John Resnikoff of University Archives in Westport, Connecticut. His total price, with auction commission added, was $2,688.

The former first lady signed a copy of the book "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." She hand decorated it with watercolor flowers as a gift for her friends Leyonard Lyons, the New York Post columnist, and his wife Sylvia.

This was one of the highlights of the couple's collection, which included original work by prominent artists, authors, politicians and celebrities of the mid-20th century.

Also on the auction block is "The Death of Monroe," which was purchased by Mrs. Whitney on June 12, 1957, from Margaret Cadman Antiques at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in London

An autographed letter from Mrs. Kennedy, dated August 4, 1968, and signed "always, affectionately, Jackie," was offered along with the hand decorated book. Responding to Lyons' request for an addition to his collection, she wrote, "I am so happy to do it for you and very flattered. If only you had not mentioned that Chagall, Picasso, and Dufy had painted sketches for you -- my hand would not have trembled half as much!"

Sotheby's holds Whitney auction

The estate auction of Betsey Maria Cushing Whitney at Sotheby's also began Thursday. Whitney was the wife of John Hay Whitney, founder of the oldest venture capital firm in the United States, J.H. Whitney & Company; the Whitney Communications Corporation; and the John Hay Whitney Foundation.

Following Mrs. Whitney's recent death, the New York auction house is holding a six-session series of April and May auctions, offering property from the couple's residences.

Among the items cataloged for auction: watercolors by Thomas Rowlandson, including his "Bath Races," "Revelry in a Tavern" and "A Gentleman's Battle Cry at the Dinner Table"; works of British painters George Stubbs("Lion Attacking a Stag" on a Wedgewood plaque) and Sir Alfred J. Munnings ("Violet Munnings' Horse 'Chips' at Chantilly"); Paul Cézanne's "Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier"; and Georges Seurat's 1880s "I'lle de la Grande Jatte," which relates to his famed "Un Dimanche d'été sur I'lle de la Grande Jatte" -- the central image of the stage musical "Sunday in the Park with Georges."

A total of six auction sessions are scheduled for the Whitney estate through Sunday. Following is a listing of some of the items and their auction-house valuations in Sotheby's sale of property from estate of Mrs. John Hay Whitney.

  • Roger de la Fresnaye (1885-1925) "Nature Morte à la Cafetière et au Melon"
      $100,000 - $150,000

  • Juan Gris (1887-1927) "Arlequin Attable"
      $125,000 - $175,000

  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) "Études (seated female nude and other sketches)"
      $700,000 - $900,000

  • Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) "Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier"
      $25,000,000 - $35,000,000

  • Georges Seurat (1859-1891) "I'lle de la Grande Jatte"
      $25,000,000 - $35,000,000

  • Pablo Picasso "Le Journal"
      $4,000,000 - $6,000,000

  • Pablo Picasso "Nature Morte à la Bouteille de Rhum"
      $5,000,000 - $6,000,000

  • Red Chair: George II Carved Mahogany Armchair
      $60,000 - $80,000

  • William Blake Book, 1794, "The First Book of Urizen"
      $500,000 - $700,000

  • A federal inlaid and carved walnut and cherrywood slant-front desk signed by John Shearer, Martinsburg, Virginia
      $12,000 - $18,000

  • A large carved gilt wood and gesso American eagle wall plaque
      $4,000 - $6,000


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    R.M. Smythe & Co.
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