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The White House Years Of Robert S. McNamara brings in more than $1 million at Sotheby's
Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Room Chairs, accompanied by an autograph letter of presentation signed by Jacqueline Kennedy. Est. $150/250,000. Sold for: $146,500 (£91,522). Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Today’s sale of The White House Years Of Robert S. McNamara – the personal archive of one of the most significant cabinet members in American history – brought a total of $1,008,571, almost doubling the low estimate (est. $505,500/775,300). With over 90% of lots sold, the sale was led by personal items from McNamara’s time in government, Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Room Chairs, accompanied by an autograph letter of presentation signed by Jacqueline Kennedy, which sold for $146,500.

David Redden, Vice Chairman and Director of the Special Projects Department and today’s auctioneer, noted: “For two hours, the history of the 1960s became a vivid reality for those who participated in this auction. The sale was filled with extraordinary pieces from the remarkable life of this pivotal figure.”

Selling for $95,500, more than three times its high estimate, was the Cuban Missile Crisis Paper-Weight that was presented to McNamara by President John F. Kennedy after the end of a thirteen-day standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union that nearly escalated into nuclear war. This is one of a series of silver paperweights commissioned by President Kennedy which he gave to members of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, military advisors, and White House staff.

The Gulf of Tonkin Memorandum and Signing Pen far surpassed its pre-sale high estimate of $8,000 to realize $37,500, while Robert McNamara’s Official Appointment as Secretary of Defense, signed by President Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, achieved $20,000 against estimates of $10,000 to $15,000.

Selling for almost five times its pre-sale high estimate at $34,375 was The Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction – the supreme civil decoration in the United States – along with a document signed by President Johnson in which he states: “May your selfless service – spent in defending freedom – bring even greater rewards in the larger work you now undertake to promote freedom throughout the world.” This was given to McNamara in recognition of his seven years of service as Defense Secretary which ended in February 1968 when he left to become President of the World Bank.

Sotheby’s next New York sale of Books & Manuscripts will take place on 14 December, 2012.

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October 24, 2012

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