JFK's Pleasure Yacht UPDATE: Or Not

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Did celebrity gossip site TMZ unearth a potentially history-changing photograph? (Update: it was a forgery, see bottom of post.) That's what bloggers are scrambling to figure out with the publication of a photo revealing four naked women and a man resembling John F. Kennedy on a yacht. It was allegedly taken when then-Senator Kennedy traveled to the Mediterranean with his brother Ted in 1956. At the time, JFK's wife, Jackie, was pregnant and would eventually give birth to a stillborn infant. As TMZ infers, "Had the photo surfaced when John F. Kennedy ran for President in 1960, it could have torpedoed his run, and changed world history." The gossip site's forensic expert, Jeff Sedlik, vouches for the photograph's authenticity. However, a number of bloggers are raising questions about the seamy photograph:

  • We Need More Answers, writes Zennie Abraham at The San Francisco Chronicle: "First, who took the photo? Second, how did they come to be in position to take it? Third, how did such a controversial photo lay undiscovered for so long? Fourth, who was really on the boat? Fifth, if it's real, who was instrumental in arranging for it not to be discovered?"
  • Cause for Skepticism Charisse Van Horn at The Examiner observes: "The top deck features two nude women who seem to be sunning themselves while John F. Kennedy is depicted on a lower level, by himself, apparently reading or sleeping. Does the fact that he appears isolated from the women indicate that the photo may be photoshopped?"
  • A Funny Angle, writes Azaria Jagger at Gawker: "Here is a question: Who took the picture? The angle suggests they are either (a.) docked, and the cameraman is on land (b.) beside a second boat, and the cameraman is on that (c.) alone, and the cameraman is treading water and angling his camera lens up, which doesn't seem likely, because cameras did not come waterproofed back then. Was there some 1950s paparazzo lurking about, and if so, does he have a whole role of sordid naked yacht pics? Or was Teddy aboard a second, even wilder pleasure yacht?"

Update: The skeptics were right: the JFK photo is a fake. As TMZ concedes, the picture is from a 1967 Playboy spread: "A rep from Playboy tells TMZ the photo ran as part of story titled, 'Playboy's Charter Yacht Party: How to Have a Ball on the Briny with an Able-Bodies Complement of Ship's Belles.' She says the photo was taken on one of the islands that make up the Grenadines (Petit Rameau)." So much for their forensic "expert."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.