University Archives

Lot 136

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John F. Kennedy, Jr. & Carolyn Bessette Kennedy Mass Invitation & Prayer Card

Two pieces of ephemera from the memorial service of John F. Kennedy, Jr. (1960-1999) and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (1966-1999) celebrated at the Saint Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in the Upper East Side of Manhattan on July 23, 1999. Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

The lot is comprised of:

1. An invitation to attend the mass extended to Kevin Hynes, John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s close friend and a New York lawyer, who also served as an usher at the event. Partly printed and partly handwritten on bifold paper. Adhesive residue is found at the center of the invitation affecting an area measuring 2.125" x .5." Along with a few minor wrinkles, else very good. Blank inside. 4.25" x 5.5." Accompanied by its original transmittal envelope.

2. A double-sided prayer card, with John and Carolyn's life and death dates appearing above Psalm 23 recto, and W.B. Yeats's 3-stanza poem "The White Birds" verso. Near fine. 4" x 6."

On July 16, 1999, John, Jr., along with his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (1966-1999) and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette (1964-1999), died when the plane JFK, Jr. was piloting crashed nearly nose first into the Atlantic Ocean about 7 miles west of the western coast of Martha's Vineyard. All aboard died upon impact. Experts concluded that nighttime flying conditions and possible haze caused spatial disorientation. The Piper Saratoga plane was discovered on July 19th, and the bodies were recovered on July 21st. After autopsies were performed, the remains were cremated and scattered over the waters near the crash site on July 22, 1999.

Carolyn and John, Jr.'s private memorial service the following day was attended by 350 guests which included Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Senator Ted Kennedy, then President and First Lady Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Muhammad Ali, Diane Sawyer, and other celebrities.

The 90-minute service was held in the church decorated with white roses. The mass included readings by Ann Freeman, mother of Carolyn and Lauren; Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, her husband and three children; and Kennedy cousins, including Carole and Anthony Radziwill. A homily was delivered by Reverend Charles J. O'Byrne, who had officiated at John, Jr. and Carolyn's secret wedding on Cumberland Island, Georgia in 1996. Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, one of John, Jr.'s favorite musicians, performed a reggae selection, "Many Rivers to Cross."

In his eulogy, Ted Kennedy said in part: ''We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years.''

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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November 11, 2020 10:30 AM EST

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