CHICAGO Compared to modern political scandals, the recently unveiled love letters and telegrams reportedly written by John F. Kennedy to a young Swedish woman in the 1950s may seem antiquated and almost chaste. In fact, there is not one knife-wielding, foot-tapping, or cigar-puffing folly to be found.
But the Chicago-area auction house that put the correspondence up for sale on its Web site Monday is hoping that bidders will be drawn more by the collection's historic significance than by the promise of juicy details.
They are remarkable, said president of University Archives John Reznikoff. (The letters) show the sensitive and human side, they show the fallibility of the person who was going to lead the Western world, avert the Cuban Missile Crisis, and stand at the Berlin Wall.
The collection includes 11 handwritten letters and three telegrams reportedly sent from Kennedy to the flaxen-haired Gunilla von Post while he was a U.S. senator.
I thought I might get a boat and sail around the Mediterranean for two weeks with you as crew, read one letter dated June 28, 1954. What do you think?
Legendary Auctions in Lansing, Ill., started the bidding Monday at $25,000.The auction follows a book by Gunilla in 1997 that detailed her long-distance affair with Kennedy, whom she said she met on the French Riviera in August 1953, just a few weeks before he married Jacqueline Bouvier.
Although Gunilla referenced the letters in her book, they have never been revealed in their entirety, according to Legendary Auctions president Doug Allen, who began working with Gunilla earlier this year.
A later letter, scrolled in red ink, foreshadows the end of the relationship, which Gunilla said dissolved around 1956.
It reads, I just got word today that my wife & sister are coming here. It will all be complicated the way I feel now my Swedish flicka ... All love, Jack.