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    JFK blood-stained leather from his presidential limousine

    [John F. Kennedy] Blood-stained Leather from Assassination Limousine. Visible blood stains are on these two pieces of leather taken from the backseat of the limousine in which President Kennedy was riding when he was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Texas Governor John Connally was sitting in the front seat and was wounded. One piece of leather, which comes from the border of the rear seat, is dark blue and irregularly shaped, 6" at its longest and 3" at its widest. The other piece, which comes from the center of the rear seat, is light blue and roughly 2.5" x 3". The visible spots on the leather are dried blood from the president.

    The presidential limousine was an open-top modified 1961 Lincoln Continental that was codenamed SS-100-X by the Secret Service. The car had been in use since March 1961. Following the assassination, F. Vaughn Ferguson, the Technical Service Representative at the White House responsible for the presidential automobiles, was told by the Secret Service to clean the limousine and get it ready in case the new president, Lyndon Johnson, wanted to use it to attend the funeral. When Ferguson arrived at the garage where the car had been taken following the assassination, he found parts of it dismantled and the leather seats ripped-out, the result of an FBI search for bullet fragments. "Blood was everywhere," Ferguson remembered. He worked throughout the weekend to get the car ready for the funeral, but President Johnson didn't use it. Ferguson kept some of the ripped-out leather as mementos.

    After the funeral, the limousine was completely refurbished by the Ford Motor Company according to Secret Service specifications. Steel plating, bullet proof tires, three inch glass, a bulletproof permanent roof, and other security features were added to the car resulting in a total addition of 2.5 tons to the weight of the car. The car continued to serve Johnson until it was replaced in 1967. Originally navy blue, it was repainted black when it was sent to the Henry Ford Museum in the 1970s, where it remains today. From the John K. Lattimer Collection.

    This lot has generated considerable interest, including questions as to its complete provenance. We have further researched this item and confirmed the following:

    All of the privately held upholstery sections from the Kennedy assassination limo seem to have come through well-known presidential artifacts collector Raleigh De Geer Amyx. Dr. Lattimer had an active trading relationship with Amyx in the early 1980s, when he acquired the example presently on offer. In 1983, Raleigh Amyx obtained Letters of Authentication from F. Vaughn Ferguson, the Ford Motor Company's White House liaison who was present during the refurbishing of the vehicle, and who preserved part of the bloodstained upholstery. Whether or not a Ferguson letter ever accompanied the Lattimer example is unknown. However, no such letter has turned up in his files.

    At least three upholstery sections with the Amyx provenance have come to market. A New York firm sold one during the disposition of the famed Robert White Kennedy collection in 2005, where it fetched $24,000. Another was sold several years earlier by a west coast firm, bringing a reported $20,000 plus buyer's premium. A third example was sold by Slater's Provenance in 2004, shortly before that firm's acquisition by Heritage. Click here to view the original catalog listing, including images, and a copy of the Ferguson letter that accompanied that example. Comparisons with these three published, documented examples, along with confirmation of the Amyx provenance, clearly confirm the authenticity of Dr. Lattimer's upholstery sections.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    17th-18th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,774

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