A cache of never-before-seen photos of John F. Kennedy and wife Jackie, to be sold by Boston’s RR Auction House, reveal a new side of Camelot’s first couple, one that was completely candid and casual.
The pictures, part of a Feb. 19 auction of Kennedy memorabilia, show the president, shirtless and swimming, and the barefoot first lady, smoking in her bathing suit. (Online bidding begins Feb. 12.)
The pictures were taken on an August weekend in 1961 at the Cape Cod estate of Listerine heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and her husband Paul, a banker and one of the richest men in America. Other guests included Washington Post publisher Philip Graham and his wife Katharine, who took some of the photos.
“They’re amazing pictures,” says Jackie Style author Pamela Keogh. “These were the masters of the universe in their downtime, sitting on beach chairs, smoking and eating clam chowder. Jack is not in perfect shape and Jackie’s wearing a bathing suit your mother might have worn. This is not Jackie in French couture. They don’t even look like they know they were being photographed.”
“This is actually how you would see them on the weekends,” notes Jackie’s Secret Service agent Clint Hill, author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me.”It was all very casual.”
So casual that Jackie didn’t seem to mind being photographed with a cigarette that weekend. “She never wanted the general public to know she smoked,” says Hill. “If someone came around when she was smoking, she’d pass it to me so it looked like it was my cigarette.”
For RR Auction House vice president Bobby Livingston, it’s an exciting glimpse of a world seldom seen. “We’ve sold many White House photos of the family but they are always posed,” says Livingston. “You rarely see candid photos of the Kennedys like this.”