The value of Ted Kennedy’s paintings and prints has skyrocketed since the senator’s death.
Over the past few weeks, Kennedy artwork that was put up for sale on eBay was snapped up in days, according to the Cape Cod Times.
The works of art were sold for between $500 and $5,000, and many owners of original or silk-screened copies of the senator’s seaside landscapes and still life pieces say their paintings are priceless.
Kennedy was known to give out hundreds of his paintings to friends and colleagues, and also donated his art to nonprofit groups’ fundraisers.
Maggie Van Sciver, president of the Arts Foundation of Kennedy’s beloved Cape Cod, told the Cape Cod Times she wouldn’t sell the personally signed print she owns for any amount of money.
Van Sciver owns a print of the senator’s sailboat, the Mya. Selling it “would never be an option,” she said. “It means too much to me.”
Kennedy donated several of his prints to the arts foundation over the years to benefit local art.
Van Sciver says his generosity to the foundation “was remarkable.” “He gave and he inspired,” she said.
Kennedy began his “career” as an artist while recuperating for six months in the hospital after breaking his back in a plane crash in 1964. It was then that painting became a passion for the politician, whose favorite subjects were the sea, his sailboat and spring flowers.
As a wedding present, he presented his wife Victoria Reggie with an oil painting of daffodils after the the William Wordsworth poem of the same name, which reads: “And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.”
“It was so wonderful and romantic, and Ted said that he wanted to paint me a picture of daffodils and he did,” Reggie told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette at the time.
Kennedy was not just an artist, but a supporter of the arts as well. He was the founder of the U.S. Senate cultural caucus, served on the National Endowment for the Arts and often spoke publicly about the need for funding for childhood arts programs.
“Not only did he walk the walk, but he talked the talk and he carried a paintbrush,” Van Sciver said.
President Barack Obama even mentioned Kennedy’s art during his eulogy at the senator’s funeral.
Kennedy had given The Preswident a painting of the sea when Obama was a young legislator. The president said Kennedy “was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank-you notes, and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. Senator would take the time to think about someone like them.”
Kennedy would often tack on a humorous note to his artistic gifts. When giving Senator Orrin Hatch an oil painting of the Kennedy compound on the sea, he wrote: “To Orrin, handle with care. If the paint comes off, the numbers will show. We'll leave the light at the compound on for you anytime. Ted Kennedy, ‘91.”