Intimate photographs of a young JFK relaxing with his family at their Palm Beach holiday home in the early 1940s have emerged for sale, showing a glimpse inside the famous dynasty away from its usual glamour and statesmanship.
The previously unpublished images feature the future president in his early 20s and the famous siblings as they play in the swimming pool in the grounds of what would later become his Winter White House.
At the time, the fresh-faced Harvard graduate had joined the US Navy and he is seen in the photos laughing with his older brother Joe Jr, two years his senior, who would later be killed in action during WWII in 1944.
Also seen alongside the Democrat are his sisters Jean and Kathleen ‘Kick’, brother Robert and his partner Ethel, mother Rose and his grandparents John and Josie Fitzgerald.
The series provides a poignant snapshot into life before the ‘Kennedy Curse’ struck the family, with four of the children featured killed prematurely in the following years.
After bomber pilot Joe was killed in 1944, Kick Kennedy died four years later aged just 28 in a plane crash in the south of France.
JFK was famously assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, by Lee Harvey Oswald, just two years after taking office.
Robert or Bobby Kennedy, who is seen in the photos posing with his future wife Ethel, was also assassinated in 1968 after winning the California presidential primary.
The collection of 31 images was taken by an unknown photographer at the Kennedy residence known as La Querida, the dear one, in Florida, in the early 1940s, and also includes later snaps of the political family.
The 6ins by 3.5ins images are tipped to sell for $2,000 with RR Auction, of Boston, US, and the online auction ends on February 17.
The photographer is believed to be someone very close to the family, and the series has been consigned by an unknown collector.
JFK (right) smiles alongside his older brother Joe (left) and their mother Rose (centre) as they relax in the pool of their Palm Beach holiday home in the early 1940s. Rose was the socialite and philanthropist daughter of John Fitzgerald, who served as Mayor of Boston. Her husband Joseph Kennedy was US Ambassador to the UK and the couple had nine children together. Her two eldest are pictured alongside her at their La Querida holiday home in Florida, which was sold for an estimated $70million in 2020
The future president lies on a boat alongside his younger sister Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy at the future Winter White House. Kick, who just a few years earlier in 1938 had been named the debutante of the year, would go on to marry Lord Hartington, heir apparent to the 10th Duke of Devonshire. But their romance was cut short when he was killed in active service only four months after their 1944 wedding. Tragedy struck again when Kick was killed in 1948 when her plane crashed in France while on holiday with her married partner, the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam
The two brothers John (left) and Joe (right) laugh with their grandfather John ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald while a dog perches on them in the grounds of the Palm Beach estate. In 1946, Fitzgerald, who had a number of unsuccessful bids for the US senate, helped JFK run for congress and plan his campaign strategy. Upon his election to the White House, JFK renamed the presidential yacht the Honey Fitz in honor of his maternal grandfather who died in 1950
Robert ‘Bobby’ Kennedy poses with his then partner Ethel in the garden of the luxury estate which was bought by his father Joseph P Kennedy in 1933. Robert was the third youngest of the nine siblings, and in the early 1940s, he was still at boarding school before enlisting in the US Naval Reserve six weeks before his 18th birthday. He went on to marry Ethel, who is still alive aged 93, but their romance ended in tragedy following Robert’s assassination in 1968
Youngest of the clan Ted Kennedy (right) sits at a table alongside his sister Jean (centre left) and future sister-in-law Ethel (centre right) and family friend Arthur Houghton. Ted would go on to serve as a senator for Massachusetts for 47 years but during the cheery family vacations in the 1940s, he was still at Milton Academy preparatory school. Jean served as US Ambassador to Ireland and was seen as crucial in the Peace Process, acting as Bill Clinton’s representative in Dublin. She died in 2020 aged 92, the last surviving and the longest-lived of the nine children
Joe Kennedy perches on a diving board at the Palm Beach home where the family would regularly vacation. Joe, the eldest of the nine children in the dynasty, had aspirations of becoming president before his untimely death in 1944. His father Joseph P Kennedy said he believed Joe would become the first ever Catholic president and upon his birth, grandfather John Fitzgerald said: ‘This child is the future president of the nation.’ But those ambitions were never realized, after he died in a top-secret WWII mission after an explosive detonated prematurely over the skies of Suffolk, England
JFK perches at the side of the pool with his older brother Joe. After Joe’s death in 1944, the dynasty’s presidential ambitions were passed on to John, the second eldest son. JFK was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1947, aged just 30. Many presidential meetings and appointments were later held at the Palm Beach mansion when JFK was in office, and it was known as his Winter White House
The collection of 31 photos was taken by an unknown photographer at the Kennedy residence known as La Querida, the dear one, in Florida, in the early 1940s. The property stayed in the Kennedy family until 1995. It had been designed by society architect Addison Minzer and built in the 1920s for department-store heir Rodman Wanamaker. Included is a color photo of a young Caroline Kennedy taken in 1959. She was born in 1957 to JFK and his wife Jackie when he was still a US senator, and she moved into the White House in 1961. The collection also includes interiors of the property including the pool house. The series also features a 1979 image of an unknown couple in front of the home
The 6ins by 3.5ins images are tipped to sell for £2,000 with RR Auction, of Boston, US, and the online auction ends on February 17. Kennedy would go on to use the property extensively while in the White House, serving as a backdrop for many of the most famous moments of his presidency. Not only did he enjoy intimate family holidays there but he also entertained politicians, penned his inaugural address, wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage, recovered from back surgery, and visited just a week before his assassination. The collection also includes images of Hyannis Port in Massachusetts, the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod. The waterfront property, consisting of three homes, was the home for Joseph P Kennedy Sr from 1928 and later served as JFK’s Summer White House after he used it as the base for his election campaign. It is still owned by the family today, and Robert’s widow Ethel lives in a home adjacent to the main house. In 2019, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Robert’s granddaughter, died of an overdose at the compound, the latest in a series of tragedies for the family
The photographer is believed to be someone very close to the family, and the series has been consigned by a collector. The intimate portraits show the life behind the glamour and socializing of the Kennedy clan who were known as much for their political ambition as the tragedies that befell so many of them. They reveal the seemingly happy home life of the family at the 15,347sq ft Palm Beach estate, which boasts 11 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, and three half bathrooms
The auction lot also includes a photo-card depicting Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., with a cartoon speech bubble, saying: ‘I Don’t Drink!’ Inside, the card shows three of his children and several associates, with the punchline: ‘…but I drive people to it!’
Kennedy Sr imported large shipments of Scotch for a profit when it was legalized, but he stayed mostly clear of alcohol. He even offered his sons $1,000 not to drink until they turned 21
The series also includes a postcard sent from Venice by Joe Gargan, depicting the city’s Canal Grande dalla Salute, postmarked in 1950. The card is addressed to Kennedy chauffeur Dave Deignan. Gargan was the cousin and close friend of Ted Kennedy, who served as campaign chairman for Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign and became involved in the Chappaquiddick incident in which a passenger was killed in a car crash. Kennedy confided in Gargan immediately after the accident, and Gargan encouraged him to report it to the police. His interviews with journalist Leo Damore, in which he revealed Ted Kennedy’s initial schemes for a cover-up, led to his falling out with the family
The postcard reads: ‘Ted and I are really enjoying ourselves over here. This Italian car we have is pretty good but nothing like the American cars. I think maybe Louisa should be our chaperone again but maybe next year’