Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oswald's gold wedding ring fetches $108,000 at auction

Lee Harvey Oswald's wedding ring, which he left at his wife Marina Oswald's bedside the morning of the assassination. [AP Photo/Stephan Savoia]
The Associated Press

The ring that once belonged to the assassin of former United States president John F. Kennedy was among almost 300 items linked to Kennedy's life and death that went up for auction Thursday in Boston. It sold for $108,000.

On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald left his wedding ring in a cup on the dresser and left $170 in one of its drawers before he headed for work at the Texas School Book Depository.

Bobby Livingston, an executive vice-president with the New Hampshire-based auction house, RR Auction, described the ring, which has a tiny hammer and sickle engraved on the inside of the band, as a "very powerful, significant piece of evidence."

"It gives you such insight into the mind of Lee Harvey Oswald," said Livingston.

It was relatively recently that the seller, Oswald's widow, Marina Oswald Porter, recovered the ring, which apparently sat forgotten for decades in the files of a Fort Worth lawyer who once did work for her.

Accompanying the ring is a five-page handwritten letter dated May 5, 2013, in which Porter writes: "At this time of my life I don't wish to have Lee's ring in my possession because symbolically I want to let go of my past that is connecting with Nov. 22, 1963."

At her request, the auction house is not releasing the full contents of the letter, in which Porter documents the history of the ring, from its purchase in the city of Minsk, Belarus, before their April, 30, 1961, wedding, to how it was left on the dresser at her friend Ruth Paine's home, where she and their children were living when Kennedy was killed. Oswald, who lived during the week in a rooming house near downtown Dallas, usually only visited on the weekend.

The ring took a circuitous route from the dresser to being offered at auction.

In 2004, it was discovered in the files of a Fort Worth lawyer who once did work for Porter. It was in an envelope marked "Treasury Department Secret Service" with a receipt stating that Paine gave it to the Secret Service on Dec. 2, 1963.

A July 2012 letter from the Fort Worth law firm of Brackett & Ellis to Porter says the ring had apparently been in lawyer Forrest Markward's possession since 1964.

Luke Ellis, a partner at the firm, said when the ring was discovered, the retired Markward couldn't recall exactly how it came into his possession. Markward has since died.