2014-10-16 / Around Town

JFK Negatives Fetch $20,000


John F. Kennedy and his bride Jacqueline leave St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church after their wedding. (Photo: Frank Ataman, AP) John F. Kennedy and his bride Jacqueline leave St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church after their wedding. (Photo: Frank Ataman, AP) Thirteen negatives of neverbefore published photos of the lavish wedding of Senator John F. Kennedy to Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport’s St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church have sold for at least $20,000, according to the Boston auction house who offered them.

The wedding of the future U.S. President and the New York socialite was a grand affair, covered by LIFE magazine, with 700 guests at the church and 1,200 at the reception. At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15, the auction of the negatives had risen from an original bid of $200 to nearly $20,000.

The photos were originally taken by Frank Ataman of Fall River, Mass., a freelance photographer. According to the Associated Press, the negatives were discovered in another photographer’s darkroom after Ataman’s death.

The images are stunning, crisp and steeped in Baby Boomer nostalgia. Several of the black-andwhite photos show the glamorous couple leaving the church, surrounded by well-wishers, the curious and the affected, held back by a bevy of local police officers. Another picture shows Kennedy slicing into his wedding cake; one more shows the family pooch emerging from the folds of Jackie’s billowing, iconic white dress.

The fairytale wedding in Newport took place just over 61 years ago, on Sept. 12, 1953.

RR Auction published a statement reiterating that the images, worthy of LIFE’s coverage, were not published in that periodical or any other. There was no word as to why they languished, valuable to collectors and historians, in the dark literally for six decades.

Bobby Livingston, RR Auction’s executive vice president, told the Associated Press that Kennedy memorabilia, like other 1960s icons such as the Beatles, continues to increase in value as Baby Boomers retire and collect.

The negatives are among other Kennedy documents currently being auctioned by RR Auction, including a White House holiday card President Kennedy and his wife signed just days before his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

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