Item: 1968 Robert Kennedy Signed Campaign Poster Autographed Just B4 His Assassination
Sold For: $2,555.00
Date: May 27, 2012
Description and Image By: faithlink
1968 Robert Kennedy Signed Campaign Poster Autographed Minutes Before Kennedy was Assassinated on June 5, 1968 (formerly owned by Michael Wayne)
The Last Autograph Robert Kennedy Signed Before He Was Murdered
This one of a kind campaign poster was, according to the official police investigation as described in the book “Special Unit Senator”, the very last item signed by Robert Kennedy, (brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy,) minutes before he was murdered at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. This brutal assassination was one of the most pivotal events in modern American history which happened on June 5, 1968. The abbreviated hastily scribbled autograph was signed at the request of political memorabilia collector Michael Wayne. There is a famous photograph of Robert Kennedy signing the poster while it is still rolled in a tube form as Michael Wayne looks on. In the right hand side of the background of this photograph one can see an image of another copy of the very same Robert Kennedy campaign poster that Robert Kennedy is signing in the foreground for Michael Wayne. This well known photograph was featured on page 76 of a Special Edition of Life Magazine called “The Kennedys” published in late 1968. A copy of this photograph is one of the images provided in the item description of this special auction. This poster is approximately 37” by 24” inches in diameter. The pictures show the poster behind plastic because the poster was tightly rolled for years and the plastic and the board behind the poster are keeping it flat for photographic and conservation purposes. There are two tears at the very top of the poster. One of the tears is approximately 3 inches long at the top right of the poster. The other tear is at the top to the left of the longer tear and about two inches long. There are also unknown stains on the back of the poster that are copper colored. The autograph is on the white collar of the shirt that Robert Kennedy is wearing on the poster. The poster is in generally very good condition. The poster was tightly rolled for years therefore this item will be mailed flat and insured for obvious reasons. Michael Wayne is somewhat known among students of the assassination of Robert Kennedy for having himself been detained for questioning on June 5, 1968 in connection with Robert Kennedy’s murder. Michael Wayne and this poster specifically are described on pages 282-283 of the 1970 book, “Special Unit Senator”. “Special Unit Senator” was written as an “official” analysis of the investigation of the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. In this book Michael Wayne is described as a “young election campaign “hobbyist” and memento hunter” who carried a rolled up “Kennedy” campaign poster with him for several hours that night, hoping to get Robert Kennedy to autograph it. About the poster specifically, Robert A Houghton, author of “Special Unit Senator” writes “Distracted by many voices, Kennedy only partially scribbled his name on it.” The author of the book, Robert A. Houghton worked as Chief of Detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department. His detailed description of the poster together with the provided photo of Robert Kennedy actually autographing the poster with Michael Wayne looking on help to explain the abbreviated condition of the autograph. During the rushed and confusing few seconds that Michael Wayne had to present Kennedy with the rolled poster, Kennedy was on his way to the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to deliver an election victory speech to a waiting crowd and assembled television cameras. Under these circumstances, it would have been difficult and unlikely for Kennedy to sign the rolled poster in any other way.
So Robert Kennedy hurriedly signed the campaign poster for Michael Wayne. (This is the moment captured in the photograph published in the Life Magazine Special Edition called “The Kennedys”) Kennedy then proceeded to the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to give his victory speech, having just won the California Democratic Primary Election for President of the United States. Again according to the book, “Special Unit Senator” (on pages 286-287), Robert Kennedy left the ballroom after giving his victory speech and Michael Wayne approached Robert Kennedy yet again with the same poster. Wayne asked Kennedy to write more on the poster than the abbreviated signature that Kennedy had written earlier but Kennedy did not stop to write more on the poster or to sign any other autographs that night. Michael Wayne’s Kennedy campaign poster was the very last thing that Robert Kennedy would sign for anyone ever again.
In the confusion following the assassination of Kennedy, Michael Wayne was handcuffed and detained by a security guard, but Wayne held on to a handful of political memorabilia and the now autographed Kennedy campaign poster, even while having his hands handcuffed behind his back. There is a photogragh online of Michael Wayne being handcuffed with the poster and a handful of political memorabilia in his hands. This photographic image is famous among students of the Robert Kennedy assassination and has also been included in the item description of this poster. The photo is also posted with additional information at: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=13275 Michael Wayne was a dedicated collector of both music and political memorabilia of the 1960s and had a special interest in the Kennedys. Wayne was also on the mailing list for the Kennedy for President campaign and most likely attended many political events at the time. According to his FBI interview which occurred in July 1968 , Michael Wayne first met Robert Kennedy in 1963. Wayne followed Robert Kennedy’s career intently. In May of 1968 Wayne was on the mailing list for two Robert Kennedy election organizations; “People for Kennedy” and “Kennedy for President”. Envelopes from both of these organizations that were dated May of 1968 were found with the signed Robert Kennedy campaign poster. The “Kennedy for President” envelope was empty but the “People for Kennedy” envelope dated May 9, 1968 contains a rare political invitation to a Robert Kennedy promotional event. The front cover of the invitation has graphics of footsteps, a photo of Robert Kennedy and the words “Will You Walk a Mile for Kennedy”. Inside of the invitation reveals an announcement for a “People for Kennedy Day Workshop and Rally” to be held on May 18, 1968 which was to be attended by Robert Kennedy’s sister, Patricia Kennedy Lawford and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. This event was held about two weeks before the California Democratic Primary on June 4, 1968, the day before Robert Kennedy was murdered. This event was previously completely absent in terms of being documented on the Internet. This invitation was part of Michael Wayne’s political memorabilia collection. This rare invitation is still in the original envelope which also includes the RSVP postcard provided by the “People for Kennedy” campaign. The two envelopes and the invitation are pictured here and are included in this RFK autographed poster auction to provide additional provenance for the poster. The signed RFK poster and other music and political memorabilia were obtained in an abandoned storage locker a few years ago. In the storage locker there was a great deal of music and political memorabilia along with several pieces of political correspondence with Michael Wayne’s name on them. This signed RFK poster was found in a rolled condition along with several other posters protecting it. I was speaking to an associate of mine on the telephone. He is a retired dealer in various rarities and I asked him to read this ad and tell me what he thought of the poster. We are both old enough to remember the day that Robert Kennedy died. He said that he was sitting in class when it was heard throughout the school that Robert Kennedy had been killed. My soul was touched when he said how he felt that day. He said that it was “the end of hope”. His hope that improvement in the human condition through the political system in our nation died along with Senator Robert F. Kennedy that day. I suspect that many people felt this way. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the shock of having Martin Luther King murdered in April of 1968, the additional blow of having Robert Kennedy assassinated so soon after MLK’s murder was just one blow too many for many of us. As to the value of the poster, his opinion was 3,500.00 – 7,500.00. Perhaps more. When I asked why, he said. “It’s the last thing he signed. It’s the day hope died. There is nothing to compare it to. ” Offers in this price range to end this auction have already come in. The auction continues partially because no one really knows. It is not an ordinary autograph and there really is nothing to compare it to. This poster, Robert Kennedy’s final inscription, is a photographically documented artifact forever linked to the murder of Robert F. Kennedy in a way that nothing else is. Many individuals old enough to have been alive and conscious of the political scene on June 5, 1968 realize that, after having won the California Democratic Primary election, it was highly likely that the charismatic and visionary Senator Robert Kennedy would have been elected President of the United States in November of 1968 had he not been murdered on June 5, 1968 virtually in front of the nation. The world famous Ambassador Hotel where this murder occurred was demolished years ago to make room for a high school. This poster, autographed by Robert Kennedy almost as an afterthought, is one of the few surviving physical artifacts that made up the background of the Robert Kennedy assassination. This assassination, along with those of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King all happened during the 1960s, perhaps one of the most turbulent decades in the history of the United States. This poster remains as one of the most poignant surviving documents of a major psychological, historical and political turning point in the history of the United States that altered the course of its national destiny.