"You can read all the biographies you want to learn about someone's character, but here you can read someone's thoughts in full," says the executive vice president of RR Auction

By Sean Neumann
May 04, 2021 06:15 PM
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JFK
John F. Kennedy
| Credit: Bettmann/ Getty

A Boston-based auction house is selling off three "revealing" love letters John F. Kennedy wrote to a Swedish aristocrat he met in 1953 — weeks before marrying Jacqueline Kennedy.

Bobby Livingston, the executive vice president of RR Auction, tells PEOPLE he "wouldn't be surprised" if the letters sell for $30,000 or higher. The auction ends next week, on May 12.

The three items, totaling eight pages, include one full letter and two partial notes written by the former president to Gunilla von Post.

The complete, handwritten 1956 letter Kennedy wrote to von Post is signed by the then-Massachusetts senator with the logo of the U.S. Senate on its letterhead as well as the envelope he used to mail the missive.

Livingston says the letters are "pretty revealing" of Kennedy's character, adding that their condition "indicates to me that [von Post] read these letters repeatedly and handled them."

Revealing' JFK Love Letters to Swedish Mistress Up for Sale at Boston Auction House
Letter from John F. Kennedy to Gunilla von Post
| Credit: RR Auction
Revealing' JFK Love Letters to Swedish Mistress Up for Sale at Boston Auction House
Letter from John F. Kennedy to Gunilla von Post
| Credit: RR Auction

Kennedy and von Post had a brief romance after meeting on the French Riviera a few weeks before he married the future first lady in 1953 — and his letter three years later shows he still held her close to his heart.

Von Post, who later moved to Florida and died in 2011, wrote a 1997 memoir about her love affair with President Kennedy. She wrote that their relationship never evolved, despite, she says, his efforts to end his marriage and bring her to the U.S.

Their relationship 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," according to the auction house.

"You can read all the biographies you want to learn about someone's character, but here you can read someone's thoughts in full," Livingston says.

And Kennedy bares plenty in his notes, contemplating his own worries about the unfaithful relationship, the distance between him and von Post in Sweden and his nostalgia for their time together. 

"Many thanks for your letter. I must say I was sad to learn that, after all, you are not coming to the U.S. and you are marrying a farmer," reads the full Kennedy letter up for auction.

A few lines later, the future president writes: "I was planning to come back again next summer to see you…& now what will happen. 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," Kennedy writes to Von Post. "I had a wonderful time last summer with you. It is a bright memory of my life—you are wonderful and I miss you."

Von Post's husband died in a 1960 plane crash. Kennedy was assassinated three years later, at the age of 46.

Revealing' JFK Love Letters to Swedish Mistress Up for Sale at Boston Auction House
Letter from John F. Kennedy to Gunilla von Post
| Credit: RR Auction
Revealing' JFK Love Letters to Swedish Mistress Up for Sale at Boston Auction House
Letter from John F. Kennedy to Gunilla von Post
| Credit: RR Auction

The earliest of the two partial letters being auctioned off dates back to 1955, according to the auction house.

In the first, Kennedy informs von Post that the Senate is ending its session later than usual and tells her he's coming to Sweden that year, asking for an address where they can meet once he arrives.

In the second partial letter, Kennedy ponders how the pair will get along after years of not seeing each other: "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—and I am sure it will all work and I shall think that though it is a long way to Gunilla—it is worth it," he writes.

Kennedy and von Post only met one more time, according to the auction house: "by chance at a gala at the Waldorf Astoria in 1958 while von Post was pregnant with her first child."

In her memoir, Love, Jack, von Post writes that she subsequently remarried and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where she later died.

The letters up for sale were found among von Post's possessions, according to the auction house. Livingston says the letters previously sold at another auction and the owner consigned them to RR Auction for their current sale.

The Boston-based auction house has several other Kennedy items for sale, including documents he signed while president, autographed photos of him and other Kennedy administration officials — including one signed image of him and brother Robert F. Kennedy, who was his attorney general — as well as his lighter and neckties.

RR Auction previously sold another love letter Kennedy wrote to Mary Pinchot Meyer just weeks before his death. That four-page letter sold for nearly $89,000 in 2016.