A silver paperweight that President John F. Kennedy gave to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara after the Cuban missile crisis sold for $95,500 at an auction Tuesday of McNamara's personal effects, Sotheby's said.
McNamara, who died in 2009, served as the head of the Pentagon from 1961 to 1968, first for JFK and then for President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was part of that decade's major events — including the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961, the missile crisis, and the escalation of the Vietnam War.
The collection of letters, photographs and other items is "sort of a capsule visual history of the 1960s, which is certainly one of the most divisive yet vibrant decades in American history," said Selby Kiffer, senior vice president of books and manuscripts and one of the main auction organizers.
Kiffer said the paperweight, with a pre-sale estimate of between $15,000 and $20,000, was one of a relative few that were made.
He noted that the auction coincides with the 50th anniversary of the missile crisis, a tense 13-day nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Afterward, Kennedy had given McNamara and others the paperweight with the October 1962 calendar page on it, the days of the conflict standing out and his and the recipient's initials on top.
The items up for sale in his personal archive also included a document signed by Kennedy that formally appointed McNamara to his position. It sold for $20,000 against estimates of $10,000 and $15,000.
Two chairs from the Kennedy administration's Cabinet Room, accompanied by a letter signed by Jacqueline Kennedy, fetched $146,500. It had a pre-sale estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
Tuesday's auction brought in a total of $1,008,571, Sotheby's said.