* Background is here. SJ-R editorial on the Lincon hat controversy…
The WBEZ report raises many questions. The hat was appraised at $15,000 in 1988 but $6.5 million in 2007. Why the massive increase in value? Prior to the foundation’s purchase of the Taper collection, an appraiser said he based his evaluation on “prior in-depth research by the museum.” But the historians reported they found no evidence of that research. Where is it? Alan Lowe, who has been director at ALPLM since 2016, said he did not see the full report until about a month ago when one of its authors gave it to him. Why did the foundation not give it to him when he arrived? The museum’s curator has been fired. Why?
* From the WBEZ report…
In that letter, [Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum executive director Alan Lowe] also told Knorowski and McCaskey that he had unearthed a document at the museum from former state historian Thomas Schwartz, who had arranged a 1988 tour of Lincoln artifacts and borrowed the hat from an earlier owner as part of that tour. Taper purchased the hat from that previous owner for an undisclosed price in 1990.
In 1988, Schwartz valued the hat at $15,000, a far cry from its $6.5 million appraisal in 2007, Lowe told WBEZ.
“I’d like to ask Ms. Taper and Mr. Schwartz, ‘Why between 1988 and 2007, what new thing did you see that led you to change the possible value of that from $15,000 to $6.5 million?’ Certainly, that means somewhere along the point, you saw something that was a slam dunk by saying that this belonged to Abraham Lincoln. And if you didn’t, why did you do that?”
WBEZ was interested in posing that question to Schwartz, now director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, but he ignored an interview request.