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Lee Harvey Oswald letter sells for over $10,000 at Lynbrook auction

Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions in Lynbrook

Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions in Lynbrook has a letter written by John F. Kennedy's alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. (Oct. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

A previously unpublicized letter that Lee Harvey Oswald wrote months before President John F. Kennedy's assassination seeking admission to the Communist Party sold Thursday for more than $10,000 in a Lynbrook auction.

The buyer, Justin Schiller of Battledore Ltd. antique booksellers in upstate Kingston, paid $10,925, including the 15 percent buyer's commission, to Philip Weiss Auctions. Schiller said he plans to resell it.

"I think it's essentially the most important Oswald letter to ever appear on the market," he said. "The letters that have appeared in the past have mainly been family letters to his brother, to his mother and to his wife."

Schiller added that "it was apparently unknown to the Warren Commission," which investigated the Kennedy assassination. "This is a direct tie to a critical part of the whole investigation -- whether or not he was a Communist."

The pre-auction estimate by Weiss was that the letter would sell for $10,000 to $20,000.

Schiller said he bid because one of his company's specialties is vintage Chinese propaganda, so he was interested in the Communist Party subject matter.

The undated letter was written to Communist Party USA chairman Gus Hall, stating: "I wish to become a member so that I may share, as fully as is possible, your trails [sic] and tribulations, as well as your glories and victories."

Hall, apparently fearing Oswald was a government agent, never responded, and the letter remained in Hall's files until his death in Manhattan on Oct. 13, 2000. A family member decided to sell it because of the interest created by the coming 50th anniversary of the 1963 assassination.

The letter bears the same return address -- P.O. Box 2915, Dallas, Texas -- to which the mail-order rifle that killed Kennedy was sent. Philip Weiss said Oswald closed the box on May 14, 1963, so the letter had to have been sent before then.

The family lost the envelope, which presumably had a postmark with a date, when it moved following Hall's death, Weiss said.

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