Thursday, May 10, 2018

Life imitates SNL: Abraham Lincoln library foundation may be forced to sell off artifacts to pay debt

Lincoln library cornerstone
In a mildly amusing Saturday Night Live bit where Jason Sudekis, playing the recently arrested Rod Blagojevich using the worst attempt at a Chicago accent ever, the-SNL Blago screams out during a US Senate hearing, "Hey, would any of you guys be interested in purchasing the actual wedding ring of President Abraham Lincoln? Cuz I got it, and yes, it is for sale--$250 Gs."

That sketch was prescient, as Springfield's Lincoln Library Foundation may be selling some Honest Abe valuables to pay off some debt.

The Lincoln library and museum, which is a Disney-esque tribute to the 16th president, is owned by the bankrupt-in-all-but-name state of Illinois.

From the State Journal-Register:
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation said Thursday it may have to resort to selling artifacts in its possession if it cannot resolve financial issues over a loan it obtained to purchase a vast collection of Lincoln artifacts a decade ago.

The organization issued a statement that it has met with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office about its financial problems but did not get any financial commitments from the administration.

“If the Foundation is not able to secure commitments in the very near future to retire most if not all of the remaining $9.7 million debt, it will have no choice but to accelerate the possibility of selling these unique artifacts on the private market which would likely remove them from public view forever,” the statement read.

The foundation — which is separate from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum — paid $25 million in 2007 to acquire the Barry and Louise Taper Collection, an extensive collection of Lincoln artifacts and other objects.
Among the items that were in that hall were a stovepipe hat that Lincoln is said to have worn, a book from 1824 that contains the earliest known sample of the Great Emancipator's handwriting, and items tied to his assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

A wax figure of Booth greeted Little Marathon Pundit and I in the museum's atrium eleven years ago when we visited. It was finally pulled because, the Peoria Journal Star reported last year, "it sent the wrong message."

Ya think?

Lincoln, but not his wife, Mary Todd, was a frugal man. Unlike current Illinois spendthrifts such as state House Speaker for Life Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). He owned only one suit that was viewed as suitable by his secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, for Lincoln to wear when his body lay in state.

Illinois, because of massive unfunded pension debt, suffers from the lowest credit rating ever recorded for a state.

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