Lot 286KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD
Group of autograph letters to Gunilla von Post. Comprising two complete autograph letters signed, two partial autograph letters (one signed), and three envelopes hand-addressed by Kennedy. Washington, D.C.: circa June 1954 - August 1956. Most letters on the recto and verso of single sheets of Kennedy's United States Senate stationery measuring 9 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches (24 x 16.5 cm); the final letter on all four pages of a slightly smaller bifolium stationery measuring 6 5/8 x 5 1/4 inches (17.5 x 14 cm). Usual folds, the letters lightly handled, the final letter split along the central horizontal fold and strengthened by old tape, this letter also with a small loss at fold and stain to margin not affecting text.
A recently discovered group of letters from John Kennedy to Gunilla von Post, the Swedish beauty Kennedy met by chance in Cannes in the summer of 1953, just weeks before his wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier. These letters complete the archive of Kennedy's letters to von Post sold in 2010 and, despite being a fragment of that larger group, includes a letter from each summer of the correspondence and offers Kennedy's important and touching final letter to von Post. The earliest letter likely dates from June 1954, one year since von Post and Kennedy's initial meeting but their first opportunity to consider meeting again. Here Kennedy attempts to find time to meet von Post in Stockholm around the 7th of September ("is there any chance you shall be there as I would like to say hello[?]") but his summer travels were cancelled by his spinal surgeries, during which he nearly died and von Post desperately sought information on his condition. What follows are two two-page portions of letters from one year later, summer 1955, being chronologically the last two pages and first two pages of separate letters (the absence of these pages causing the miscataloging of a letter dated 7/20/55 in the 2010 auction listing). By June 1955, Kennedy was not only actively making plans to visit von Post in Sweden ("perhaps you could make me a reservation[?]") but truly pined for her, writing "I am anxious to see you - is it not strange after all these months? Perhaps at first it shall be a little difficult as we shall be strangers - but not strangers... It is a long way to Gunilla - it is worth it. Jack." His plans set, the following partial letter opens lightly with Kennedy reporting that von Post "looked well and happy" in a photograph that she had sent him (after many requests) and writes that he will be in Sweden by August 12th and "where do I go[?] Send me your address in Bastaad where you shall be." As reported in detail in her heart-wrenching 1997 memoir of the relationship Love, Jack, von Post and Kennedy, who was travelling with his trusted friend Torbert Macdonald, spent a very blissful and intimate week consummating the relationship throughout Sweden in August 1955. Their love in full bloom, over the next year von Post writes in her memoir of efforts on Kennedy's behalf to end his marriage and to bring her to the United States, all of which was thwarted by his father, his political ambitions, and Kennedy's and von Post's mutual sensitivity to the miscarriage suffered by Jacqueline in 1955 and her new pregnancy in 1956. The current group closes with perhaps the most important letter of all, Kennedy's final letter to von Post, dated August 1956, in which he responds to learning she was to marry Anders Ekman, a wealthy Swedish landowner, and would not be moving to the U.S. The letter closes quite deeply with Kennedy first grasping at straws at the actuality of von Post marrying another but ultimately acknowledging that this meaningful relationship had run its course, writing "In any case let me know what you are going to do. If you don't marry come over as I should like to see you. I had a wonderful time last summer with you. It is a bright memory of my life - you are wonderful and I miss you. Jack."
Gunilla von Post and John Kennedy would see each other only one other time, this by chance at a gala at the Waldorf Astoria in 1958 while von Post was pregnant with her first child. Her husband died while piloting a plane in 1960 and Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963; von Post remarried and lived the rest of her life in Florida and, as noted, published her memoir in 1997, a first edition copy of which accompanies the lot. Gunilla von Post also oversaw the sale of her archive of letters from Kennedy in 2010 (see Legendary Auctions, March 2010, lot 1174, $115,000, that group of 11 letters and 3 telegrams described as the "Complete Correspondence"). The present group of letters were found among her possessions after her death in 2011 and are sold on behalf of her estate.
C Estate of Gunilla von Post Miller
Sold for $15,000
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