A Durrow auctioneer who were handling the high profile sale of 33 of Jackie Kennedy’s personal letters, have declined to comment on the sale withdrawal, beyond issuing a brief statement on their website.
The sale by Sheppard’s Irish Auction House of the letters, owned by All Hallows College in Dublin, was set to make at least €1 million, with large international interest.
However it was mired in controversy, first with criticism over selling the private letters rather than handing them to the Kennedy family, then with a legal row between Sheppards and their valuer.
The valuer Eoin O’Neill was last week ordered to hand back copies of the letters he had made and sold to a Boston newspaper, while proceedings are ongoing against him for damages.
Days later the sale was withdrawn by All Hallows College, who followed this with a shock announcement of their closure due to falling student numbers.
On their website last Wednesday May 21, Sheppard’s said they were “today informed by the vendor that the archive of letters from Jackie Kennedy to Father Joseph Leonard was being withdrawn from auction”.
They added that they were “in the process of returning the archive, and items related to the archive, which had been consigned to the auction, to the vendor”.
Philip Sheppard declined to comment any further to the Leinster Express.
The 33 letters and photographs were sent by Jackie Kennedy to her friend Fr Joseph Leonard, from 1950 up to his death in 1964, giving her personal thoughts before her marriage to John F Kennedy and after his assassination.