Published On: Sun, Feb 21st, 2021

Red JFK Harvard Sweater Goes for $85,000

It sold as part of a President's Day auction.

JFK’s Harvard sweater (WBZ-TV)

If you ever wanted to own John F. Kennedy’s Harvard University sweater, well you are too late. It was sold at auction on Friday for $85,266. It was auctioned off along with 300 other presidential items by the Boston-based RR Auction house in a President’s Day special.

“It’s a magnificent, personal piece representing Kennedy’s beloved university,” Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction, told CBS Boston.

John F. Kennedy’s crimson red wool cardigan sweater with shawl collar features a large black block-letter “H” for his alma mater, Harvard, knitted into the left breast. A label sewn into the collar is embroidered in red thread with his surname, “Kennedy.”

The auction house described it as a “handsome, classically-styled collegiate sweater” which features “eight brilliant white mother-of-pearl buttons (six along the front and two on the neck), with two sewn-in pockets on the front.” The sweater measures 32″ from the shoulder to the bottom, and would fall to the hip. It was sold mounted and framed in a large 34.5 x 40.5 shadowbox display.

The sweater was acquired by CBS cameraman Herman Lang while shooting the network’s May 1964 interview of Jacqueline Kennedy. Apparently it was a chilly day in May and Lang remarked to a Kennedy staff member that he was catching a cold. So he was given this Harvard sweater to wear while he was filming outside. Apparently, when Lang attempted to return the sweater to a Kennedy insider he was told that he could keep it as a reminder of the late John F. Kennedy.

In his short Harvard application essay, Kennedy famously concluded: “To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.” He indeed attained it, graduating cum laude as part of the class of 1940 with a Bachelor of Arts in government, concentrating on international affairs.

Other JFK items which were sold included several signed photos, a hand edited letter, and a book.

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