Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin fetches $87 000 at auction

2010-12-18 08:00

Los Angeles – An anonymous buyer had paid more than $87 000 (R596 339) to purchase the wooden coffin that held Lee Harvey Oswald’s body for 20 years, an auction house said yesterday.

The winning bid of $87 469, which included a 20% commission, exceeded the target price of $60 000 set for the simple pine coffin that held the alleged presidential assassin’s remains until 1981.

Oswald was arrested less than an hour after the November 22 1963 assassination of President John F Kennedy. He was shot and killed two days later while in police custody by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

“This was a one-of-a-kind item. This was the first coffin that this auction house has ever auctioned and it was quite a unique item,” said Sam Heller, spokesman for auction house Nate D Sanders.

Bidding began on the coffin when it was posted online two weeks ago.

Auction house manager Laura Yntema declined to identify the buyer, except to say that he was a “private individual” who was apparently bidding for himself.

The coffin was unearthed in October 1981 after a legal dispute between Oswald’s widow, Marina, and his brother, Robert.

Marina successfully sought an exhumation to test a conspiracy theory that a look-alike Russian agent had been buried in her husband’s place, according to the auction house.

A medical exam showed the badly decomposed body was indeed Oswald’s, and he was returned to Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park in Fort Worth, Texas, in a new casket.

The original coffin, which had suffered extensive water damage, was sold by Baumgardner Funeral Home, the local undertaker that handled the reinterment.

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