John F. Kennedy’s Racing Boat, the Flash II, Set to Make Splash at Auction

A boat once raced by President John F. Kennedy and his older brother Joseph P. Kennedy is hitting the auction block in Dallas, Texas on May 18 as part of Heritage Auctions “Americana & Political Grand Format Auction.”

The boat, called the Flash II, was raced by the brothers in the Nantucket Sound Star Fleet and frequently used for pleasure sailing trips. The boat is registered as #721 by the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association, and measures over 22 feet long with a 30 foot tall mast.

“The Kennedy brothers made quite a name for themselves in the Nantucket Sound Fleet racing circuit with this boat in the late 1930s,” said Mark Prendergast of Heritage Auctions in a press release. “It’s also been the subject of extraordinary and painstaking restoration. Not only is it a piece of American history, it’s also seaworthy and ready for adventure.”

The Flash II Photo via: Heritage Auctions

The Flash II
Photo via: Heritage Auctions

“It’s not hard to picture the young future president at the command, exhorting his crew toward victory,” Prendergast noted. “JFK obviously loved to compete and, prior to World War II, this was his favorite boat to race.”

While the boat boasts a Kennedy pedigree, its recent life has been something of a bizarre tale. It was purchased at auction 19 years ago by boat restorer Ole Anderson, who intended to restore it. But in 2004, the boat was seized by the DEA as “property derived from the proceeds of narcotics distribution” based on Anderson’s conviction as a marijuana trafficker. It was then sold again at auction by the United States Marshals Service to the current owner, Frank Harvey.

The seaworthy vessel is currently available for online bidding, with an opening bid of $100,000. Online bidding ends May 17, the day before the live auction.

This isn’t the first time Kennedy memorabilia has stirred up a frenzy at auction. In October 2014 a set of never-before-seen photographs of Kennedy’s wedding to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier were sold for $34,073 in Boston (see John F. Kennedy’s Long-Lost Wedding Photos Auctioned Off).

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