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Photo negatives from Kennedy years
lost in trade center debris

by Frank Eltman, AP, 6 Dec 2001


NEW YORK (AP) -- An estimated 40,000 negatives of images taken by President John F. Kennedy's personal photographer are believed to have been destroyed in a bank vault beneath the World Trade Center.

One of Jacques Lowe's most famous images shows Kennedy leaning against his White House desk in November 1961. Lowe died in May at age 71.

Lowe's daughter, Thomasina Lowe, said her father kept his collection of negatives in a safe-deposit vault at the JP Morgan Chase bank branch at 5 World Trade Center. She said they were probably worth $2 million, and were not insured.

Chase officials told customers in September they would try to retrieve the safe-deposit boxes.

But in a Dec. 3 letter, the bank said an inspection concluded that the weight of the debris and subsequent fires had destroyed the estimated 1,000 boxes and their contents.

Lowe's agent, Woody Camp, said the negatives recorded "everything that related to the Kennedys. There were photographs of meetings during the Bay of Pigs. ... Historically, there's a lot that's not there any more."

Lowe's daughter said she is heartbroken by the loss.

"I'm not being unreasonable. I know what happened on Sept. 11," she said. "I just don't understand why they can't demolish the building and then sift through what's left."

Charlie Maikish, executive vice president for global real estate at JP Morgan Chase, said approximately $500,000 was spent in an effort to retrieve the vault. He said once the building is demolished, workers will make another attempt.

In 1956, Lowe was assigned to photograph Robert F. Kennedy, then a young Washington lawyer. He liked Lowe's pictures and gave one to his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who was so impressed that he asked Lowe to photograph John F. Kennedy and his wife.

Three years later, Lowe became the official photographer of John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign.

After Kennedy was elected president, he asked Lowe to stay on as his personal photographer. His pictures of the Kennedys have appeared in 200 magazines and compilations.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press.
Reprinted for fair use only.

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