Piece of Dealey Plaza fence goes up for auction

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Conspiracy theorists and collectors, take note: A section of fencing from the infamous grassy knoll in Dallas' Dealey Plaza is going up for auction.

The weather-beaten picket fence, along with its metal posts, goes on sale Sunday at the Lelands.com online auction house. Bidding on the fence from the scene of President Kennedy's Nov. 22, 1963 assassination runs through June 16.

"It's an iconic item, in a macabre sort of way," said Simeon Lipman, director of Americana at the Long Island-based auction house. "It's part of the American lexicon: the grassy knoll, the white picket fence."

The fence was rescued from the junk heap five years ago by Dealey Plaza tour guide Ronald D. Rice. When a construction crew began dismantling the fence to replace it in January 2000, Rice grabbed up four sections _ each about 70 inches long and 55 inches high _ and put them into storage.

When the storage payments weren't made, the fence was sold at public auction to current owner Daniel Moses of Duncanville, Texas, said Lipman. He approached Lelands last year about selling it off.

"This kind of took me aback," said Lipman. "I've seen some wacky stuff, but this takes the cake."

Although the section of fence is indisputably from the Dallas location, there are questions about whether it's the fence that was standing on Nov. 22, 1963. The curator at the Sixth Floor Museum overlooking Dealey Plaza says many of the fence's wooden pickets have been replaced over the years.

Lelands agrees that pickets snatched by souvenir hunters or ruined by the weather needed replacements, but maintains "the wooden cross members that make up the main frame and the metal posts are original and predate 1963."

Several of the pickets carrying JFK-related graffiti left by tourists, including the message, "Oswald Was Framed." Conspiracy theorists have long suggested a second gunman might have hidden behind the fence.

"We're not saying this is 100 percent original from 1963," Lipman said of the fence. "But there are certainly parts of the fence that are original."

The minimum opening bid for the fence is $5,000, although Lipman acknowledged he had no idea what kind of bidding might ensue. "It's impossible to say with such a unique item," he said.

LARRY McSHANE
Associated Press Writer