Two uniquely personal pieces of Kennedy history hit the Christie’s auction block today in New York City.
A gold watch and a never-before-seen painting done by Jackie Kennedy herself in 1963 — only months before her husband was assassinated — are estimated to sell for between $60,000 and $120,000. And the story of how they came to be is fascinating.
In February 1963, Jackie, her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, their family friend Chuck Spalding, and Secret Service agent Clint Hill embarked on a 50-mile hike from Palm beach to Fort Lauderdale. At the time, John F. Kennedy had just published a Sports Illustrated article calling Americans “soft.” Recalling a 1908 executive order in which President Theodore Roosevelt required Marines to be able to complete a 50-mile hike, President Kennedy suggested present day officers should be able to complete the same task. He even announced that he would put his own White House staff to the 50-mile test.
The stunt was meant to kick-start a national fitness campaign — and Jackie wanted in.
“They started out at 2:50 a.m.,” Hill, author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me, told audiences members at an exclusive Christie’s pre-auction event in New York. “It was an incredible journey and hike that we’ll never forget.”
To commemorate the successful hike, Radziwill gave Jackie an 18-karat gold Cartier Tank watch with the engraving; “Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 am to 9:35 pm.”
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And in return, Jackie painted Radzwill a picture of him and Spalding walking. She inscribed it: “Jackie to Stas with love and admiration.”
Both are up for June 21 auction at Christie’s Rockefeller Center as a part of the “Rare Watches and American Icons.” Together, the items are estimated to go for between $60,000 and $120,000.
Jackie regularly wore the gold watch in the years that followed the hike, but the painting by Jackie has never been showed publicly.
“It was quite an event!” says Hill. “One that meant so much to them they felt it had to be commemorated.”
After the group completed the hike (Hill sported Florsheim dress shoes for the entire time), they gathered at lodge, exhausted, to celebrate the accomplishment.
“When we got back to the residence, they said ‘Clint, the president wants to see you!’ ” recalls Hill. “The president hands me a glass of champagne, which I readily accepted it and drank it. Then he proceeded to present a medal to me made out of crepe paper and did the same with his brother-in-law.”
“Something I’ll never forget.”