Red faces at JFK memorabilia auction as buyer makes expensive error

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The Independent US

A pair of boxer shorts that belonged to John F Kennedy and a Barbie doll owned by his wife, Jacqueline, were among the attractions at an auction of Kennedy memorabilia at the weekend.

One of the buyers felt a little less lucky than she might have after making a costly error involving a decimal point. She thought she had paid $2,250 (£1,400) in an online bid for a 1960 campaign notebook owned by the former US president. In fact, she was asked to pay $22,500 (£14,000).

"I may have to keep it," said Suzanne Vlach, owner of an antique shop in Washington state. She was planning to sell the notebook but said: "It might be a little expensive for my customers." The auctioneer, Hantman's Auctioneers & Appraisers, said it was looking into the error at the New Jersey sale.

Most of the 332 lots were from Mary Gallagher, Mrs Kennedy's personal secretary between 1957 and 1964, and Providencia Paredes, the former first lady's personal assistant between 1959 and 1965, The notebook was being offered for auction by the Museum of American Financial History.

The notebook contained 22 pages of jottings about speech ideas as well as miscellaneous lists to do with his 1960 contest with Richard Nixon for the White House. The highest price of the day, $32,500, was for a leather attaché case, which was given to JFK by Mrs Kennedy as an engagement present.

The boxer shorts were US Navy issue dating from when JFK served in the Second World War. There was no doubt about their pedigree as the waistband had a tape identifying the owner as "Jack Kennedy". They sold for $5,000.

A Jackie Kennedy swimsuit fetched $850 while a photograph of the former first lady by Richard Avedon sold for $2,250. A Japanese Barbie doll, which was originally given to the couple's daughter, Caroline, was estimated at $150 to $200 but finally sold for $2,750.