By Daniel Lovering
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Thousands of items that belonged to a longtime aide of President John F. Kennedy sold for as much as $2 million in an auction that ended on Monday, nearly 50 years after the president's assassination.
A birthday card from his son, the late John F. Kennedy Jr., fetched $17,000, a flag flown on Kennedy's motorcade limousine sold for $55,000, while a seal that hung above the aide's desk in the West Wing sold for $17,000, excluding buyers' premiums, said Dan Meader, auction appraiser at John McInnis Auctioneers.
A top sale item in the bidding that began on Sunday morning was Kennedy's Air Force One bomber jacket, which sold for $570,000 plus a buyer's premium, far greater than the expectation of a $20,000 to $40,000 final bid.
The collection included letters, photographs, books and other items that had been tucked away in drawers and file cabinets at the home of David Powers, who died in 1998. They were discovered in recent years by relatives as they prepared the Arlington, Massachusetts, residence for sale.
Powers was close to the president throughout his political career, from 1946 until his assassination on November 22, 1963. He later remained close to the Kennedy family and became curator of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston before retiring in 1994.
The auction included personal effects that reflected Powers' years of shared history with Kennedy and his family. Among them were dozens of letters from former first lady Jackie Kennedy and books inscribed by the president.
Some items sold for as much as 20 times their estimated price in bidding sessions that took twice as long as expected, Meader said.
Organizers have not yet tallied the total amount bid in the auction, but it was on the high end of $1 million to $2 million, he said.
"It far exceeded the estimates," Meader said.
Roughly 400 people from across the country attended the auction in Amesbury, Massachusetts, which ended shortly after 5 a.m. (1000 GMT) on Monday. Bidders from around the world participated online, he said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and James Dalgleish)