Former California Gov. Jerry Brown surprised by auction of father’s JFK letters

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Former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said he is concerned over the auction of rare papers written by the late President John F. Kennedy to his father Pat Brown, who served as governor of California from 1959 to 1967.

“I’d sure like to know why the seller is claiming anonymity — and why these documents aren’t at the UC Berkeley archives with the rest of my father’s papers,’’ Brown told Politico in a statement Friday. 

Officials from Sotheby’s New York office said material it will auction off — which also includes letters by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and former President Lyndon B. Johnson — could net as much as $30,000 at a Monday auction. 

The Brown archives will be auctioned in a live session during Sotheby’s Americana Week. 

Dr. Kalika Sands of Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department confirmed to Politico that the material is from a private collector who wants to remain anonymous. 

“Individual parts … we’ve seen before in auction — but having a collection like this, where it all comes from Pat Brown (is the difference),” she said. “I think the way the collection stands together is fascinating … it is able to create this arc where we see a nation in mourning from one person’s point of view.”

Brown’s father had many of his materials housed under the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. However, Pete Hanff, an assistant director at the library, said he had no evidence of the JFK papers being part of its catalogues, but that they may have at one point been secured by private sources or autograph collectors.

Brown said he was not informed of the sale until he was contacted by Politico. He told the outlet that neither he nor any of his family members are selling his father’s papers. 

Included among the papers is a letter directly from JFK to Brown’s father discussing his tax-reform program.

Tags JFK John F. Kennedy Kennedy family Pat Brown Pat Brown Sotheby's

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