Marina Oswald sells wedding ring, powerful symbol of JFK assassination (+video)
Marina Oswald, formerly married to Lee Harvey Oswald, sold his wedding ring at auction Thursday. The ring played a key role in Oswald's emotional turmoil on the day of the JFK assassination in 1963.
[Updated 3:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 24.] Lee Harvey Oswald’s wedding ring – a haunting symbol of the tragedy of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – is among the hundreds of items of JFK memorabilia scheduled for auction in Boston on Thursday.Skip to next paragraph
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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The wedding ring sold for $90,000 on Thursday afternoon.
The ring is a simple gold band with a tiny hammer and sickle stamped inside. Oswald bought it in Minsk in the Soviet Union prior to his 1961 marriage to Marina Prusakova, a young Soviet girl he’d met at a dance.
It’s a “very powerful, significant piece of evidence,” Bobby Livingston, a vice president with RR Auction, which offered the ring, told the Associated Press. “It gives you such insight into the mind of Lee Harvey Oswald.”
The ring played a key role in the troubled Oswald’s emotional turmoil on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963.
A former Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union, then returned to America, he’d had difficulty finding employment. His job at the Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas paid little – certainly not enough to support his young wife and two children in any kind of style. He was living in a drab downtown rooming house during the week, returning only occasionally to the small house in suburban Irving where Marina and the children lived with a friend, Ruth Paine.
His marriage was troubled. On Thursday, Nov. 21, Oswald cadged a ride from a co-worker out to Irving. Marina was surprised and unhappy that he’d come. He took her aside and begged her to leave her current living arrangement and live again with him. He put away diapers and lavished attention on his children, according to William Manchester’s classic 1967 book, “The Death of a President.”
“He wanted her and the children with him, and if she would only nod her head he would ‘rent an apartment in Dallas tomorrow,’ ” wrote Manchester.
She refused. She’d found a haven there with Ruth Paine and could manage without him, she said. Oswald had nothing left, not even his pride.
He awoke early in their small bedroom the next morning, Friday, Nov. 22. He left Marina $187 in bills, virtually all the money he had.
“Before departing he slipped off his wedding ring and left it in the little china cup that had belonged to his grandmother,” writes Manchester. He was giving up.
Oswald retrieved a mail-order rifle he had hidden in the garage. He rode back to the Book Depository with the co-worker, saying the bundle was curtain rods for his small room. The stage was set for the tragedy of his assassination of the president.
Since that day, the ring itself has had an uncertain history. In 2004 it was discovered in the files of a Texas lawyer who had done work for Marina Oswald, now Marina Oswald Porter. It was in an envelope marked “Treasury Department Secret Service,” according to the RR Auction catalog.
The ring was accompanied at auction with a five-page letter from Marina, who after the tragedy of that November married a man named Kenneth Porter, remained in Dallas, and eventually became a naturalized US citizen.
“At this time in my life I don’t wish to have Lee’s ring in my possession because symbolically I want to let go of my past that is connecting with Nov. 22, 1963,” the letter reads, in part.
Also up for auction Thursday are a white Lincoln that JFK and Jackie rode in just hours before his killing and numerous personal Kennedy mementos, such as ties and glasses the president once wore.