Purported JFK ambulance sold for $120,000 at auction

Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:34am EST
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By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters Life!) - A car collector who wanted a "piece of history" paid $120,000 at an auction in Arizona for a 1963 ambulance that purportedly carried the body of President John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated, auction officials said.

Addison Brown of Paradise Valley, Arizona, bought the gray Pontiac Bonneville despite reports claiming the vehicle being sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale was a fake, auction president Steve Davis said.

The Navy ambulance was advertised as the vehicle that met Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base and transported Kennedy's flag-draped casket to Bethesda Naval Hospital for his autopsy and later to the U.S. Capitol to lie in state.

Barret-Jackson officials said they independently verified the authenticity of the vehicle.

Iconic photos from Andrews the night of November 22, 1963, show the newly widowed first lady, Jackie Kennedy, looking dazed, her dress still stained with her husband's blood, holding the hand of her brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy as they watched JFK's casket placed into an ambulance.

Another, posted on the auction website advertising the sale, shows Jackie reaching to open the rear passenger door of the ambulance, with Robert Kennedy just behind her.

But the vehicle's authenticity was called into question days before the auction in a report from automotive website Jalopnik.com, which said the real ambulance had been crushed in 1986.

Brown, an avid car collector with her husband, Walt, said she is convinced the ambulance is as advertised and feels fortunate to own "a piece of history."   Continued...