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Zapruder heirs to get $16 million for JFK assassination film

Zapruder camera
The Zapruder camera which captured Kennedy's assination on film  

August 3, 1999
Web posted at: 10:48 a.m. EDT (1448 GMT)

In this story:

Zapruder family keeps profits secret


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly 36 years after Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on a home movie camera, Zapruder's heirs learned Tuesday how much money the historic film is worth: $16 million, about half what the family wanted.

A three-judge arbitration panel determined how much the government must compensate the Zapruder family for the strip of 8 millimeter film, now preserved in a cold-storage vault at a National Archives building in suburban Washington.

At arbitration hearings earlier this year, government attorneys suggested $1 million is fair compensation; Zapruder's heirs believe the film could command $30 million at auction. The arbitration panel's decision is binding.

Zapruder took the famous footage on November 22, 1963, when he joined a crowd to watch Kennedy's motorcade sweep through Dealy Plaza in Dallas.

Zapruder was one of three people to film the scene, but the images captured by his Bell and Howell silent camera are considered the most complete.

Two years ago, a government commission declared the film a public record and took legal custody of it. But unable to agree on how much the film was worth, the government and the Zapruder family set up the arbitration panel to determine a fair price.

The government is compensating the family for the actual 28-second film; the family will retain reproduction and royalty rights.

Zapruder family keeps profits private

An attorney for the family told CNN in 1997 that the family routinely gives copies of the film to researchers and others, but does charge for commercial use. He declined to say how much the film has earned the family over the years.

"There is a gross overestimation of what the earnings are ... generally from people who have absolutely no clue as to what the earnings are," attorney Jamie Silverberg said.

The family has also released a digitally enhanced version of the film in home video format for sale to the general public.

The arbitration panel originally was to announce its decision July 19, but it delayed the announcement out of consideration for the Kennedy family, which two days earlier had learned of the disappearance of the plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr.

In deference to Kennedy family, panel postpones decision on Zapruder film
July 19, 1999
Oswald letters may shed light on assassin's thinking
June 23, 1999
Russian gift of JFK papers stirs assassination theorists
June 21, 1999
New documents reveal first JFK casket dumped at sea
June 1, 1999
JFK remembered on 35th anniversary of assassination
November 22, 1998
JFK board to disband after huge roundup of assassination records
September 29, 1998
Ownership Of Zapruder Film Passes To Government
July 31, 1998

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Homepage
  • Warren Report: Appendix XIII
Arlington National Cemetery
National Archives and Records Administration
  • National Archives To Open Additional JFK Materials (May 27, 1999)
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