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Heritage Auctions Asks Dallas Federal Judge: Tell Us Who Owns John Quincy Adams Letters

John Quincy Adams by Ed Alstrom, 2003
John Quincy Adams by Ed Alstrom, 2003

Once again Unfair Park's cross-the-street neighbor Heritage Auction Galleries finds itself caught between two parties claiming to own historical missives -- in this case, letters written by John Quincy Adams, which are currently being kept in a vault on Maple Ave. Four months ago the U.S. Attorney's Office asked a federal judge to determine ownership of a letter Jackie Kennedy wrote to Ethel following Bobby's assassination, which Heritage had planned to auction off till the FBI stepped in and took ownership following the revelation they may have been stolen. Now, Heritage is asking the same thing: Can the court please tell Heritage who owns these Adams letters? Because there's a lot of money at stake here -- $28,000, at least, not to mention interest and whatever the letters might have sold for at auction.

Says Heritage in the suit filed at the Earle Cabell on Thursday, in July a California man named Bradley Mugar brought to Heritage the two letters, for which the auction house paid him an advance of $28,000. Heritage then put the missives in its 2011 September Beverly Hills Signature Historical Manuscripts Auction, which featured, among other things, John Hancock's John Hancock and Daniel Boone's signature on a surveying agreement. But only days before the auction, an attorney repping Dr. David Light of Palm Beach sent Heritage a letter insisting those were his historical docs up for grabs on the auction house's website and that they "were stolen from him."

On September 8, four days before the auction was to start, Heritage pulled the letters. Now it wants to know: Does Murgar really own 'em, or are they Light's after all? Because if it's the former, Heritage wants to hang on to them till Mugar repays the $28,000, plus 18 percent in interest per annum beginning last July. And if they're Light's, then Heritage just wants its money and its interest, and will be happy to give the doctor back his history. Heritage was kind enough to send a photo of one of the letters, which is also on the other side, but the company's policy is not to comment on pending court cases.

Click to enlarge one of two John Quincy Adams letters at the center of a lawsuit filed last week in Dallas federal court.
Click to enlarge one of two John Quincy Adams letters at the center of a lawsuit filed last week in Dallas federal court.
Courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries

Heritage Federal Suit Over John Quincy Adams letters


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