One of the most significant and personal items connected with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy—Lee Harvey Oswald’s gold wedding band. The gold band, with two stamps and one divot on the inside, was purchased in a jewelry store in Minsk before his marriage to Marina Prusakova on April 30, 1961. The stamps inside the band include one stamp with a star and “P583,” which is the metric equivalent of 14k in the United States, with the center of the star bearing a very small hammer and sickle stamp, and a “P101.” According to Marina Oswald, he left the ring on a night table next to her bed at Ruth Paine’s house in Irving, Texas, on November 22, 1963, the day of the Kennedy assassination. After Oswald’s arrest the ring was given to the United States Secret Service by Paine on December 2, 1963, and then to a Fort Worth lawyer, Forrest Markward, who joined the firm of Brackett and Ellis. The ring remained at the firm until it was discovered among Markward’s files after his passing, and eventually returned to Marina in 2012. The ring is accompanied by its original manila Treasury Department Secret Service evidence envelope, labeled at the top, “Wedding ring,” with a typed receipt stapled to the front which states: “Receipt is hereby acknowledged of a gold wedding band which had been turned over to the United States Secret Service on December 12, 1963, by Mrs. Ruth Paine.”
The band is also accompanied by an amazing, one-of-a-kind five-page handwritten letter from Marina Oswald Porter, dated May 5, 2013, documenting the history of the ring from its purchase to its return almost 50 years later. The letter reads, in part (spelling and grammar retained): “That is the only item of Lee’s that has been returned to me and it took almost 50 years…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.”
Also included is a July 24, 2012, letter from Luther Ellis of Brackett and Ellis informing Mrs. Porter of the discovery of the ring in Markward’s files. The letter states: “I am writing you concerning a gold ring which appears to be a wedding band that may have belonged to Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his death.” Also included is Marina and June Porter’s July 27, 2012, response to Ellis, stating the ring was left in Marina’s room at Ruth Paine’s home, and asking for its immediate return.
When asked during the Warren Commission proceedings if this was the first time during her married life that Lee had ever left his wedding ring at home, Marina replied that it was—a comment that bolstered the claim that Oswald knew what lay ahead that day. Mentioned a second time in the proceedings in an exchange between Chairman Earl Warren, General Counsel Lee Rankin, and William McKenzie, McKenzie requested the return “of everything Mrs. Oswald has previously furnished the Commission…In particular there is a wedding ring that I would like to ask the Commission to return at this time.” Warren advised him that nothing would be returned that day, but that the Commission would give it consideration. Marina would not see the ring until nearly fifty years later.
Left by Oswald on that fateful November 1963 day, this ring and the money on the dresser have been interpreted by many as Oswald’s final farewell to his wife. A superlative item of great historical significance and intrigue, well-documented and newly discovered by the last living major figure of the Kennedy assassination, and offered for public auction for the first time.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.