As the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination approaches on Nov. 22, 2013, one of the most personal and intriguing items connected to the tragedy—Lee Harvey Oswald’s wedding band—was sold at auction Oct. 24 in Boston.
The gold wedding band, stamped with an engraving of the star of Russia and a tiny hammer and sickle on the inside, sold to an anonymous Texas buyer for $118,000. The ring was among nearly 300 other items linked to JFK sold in the “Camelot: Fifty Years After Dallas” auction at Boston’s Omni Parker House hotel.
Oswald purchased the ring in the Soviet city of Minsk before his marriage to Marina Prusakova on April 30, 1961. According to Prusakova, he left the ring on a night table next to her bed in Irving, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963—the day of the assassination.
The ring was confiscated by the United States Secret Service following Oswald’s arrest on Dec. 2, 1963; it later fell into the hands of Fort Worth lawyer Forrest Markward, where it remained for nearly 50 years. After Markward passed away, the ring was discovered among some of his files at the firm and was eventually returned to Oswald’s widow in 2012.
Several historically significant mementos accompanied the ring at auction, including a handwritten letter by Prusakova dated May 5, 2013. Her fascinating note recollects the history of the ring, from its 1961 purchase in Minsk to Oswald leaving it on her nightstand and finally to its confiscation by the Secret Service. The original manila Treasury Department Secret Service evidence envelope—labeled at the top “Wedding Ring,” with a typed receipt stapled to the front—was also included, as was a 2012 letter from the law firm Brackett & Ellis informing Prusakova of its discovery.
The auction house did not release the full contents of Prusakova’s letter per her request. In her note, she writes, “At this time of 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 date Prusakova describes as “the worst day of my life.”
Oswald’s wedding band is referenced at least twice in the Warren Commission proceedings. Prusakova said in a statement at the proceedings that she did not know whether the ring being left construed a hidden meaning.