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Abe's Iconic Hat May Disappear 'Forever'

The Illinois museum might sell precious artifacts to pay off debt
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2018 4:30 PM CDT
Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat.   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman File)

(Newser) – Abraham Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat is among items that may be auctioned off to meet a dire debt payment deadline, the Washington Post reports. Short a $9.7 million infusion, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation has approved the search for an auctioneer to sell the hat and other items, like the blood-stained gloves Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated. These are the highlights among 1,400 objects in the Barry and Louise Taper Collection, which includes the quill pen left on his desk, his presidential seal, and the Lincoln White House china, the AP notes. The foundation paid $25 million in 2007 for the Taper collection, $23 million of which was borrowed.

But the debt has risen to nearly $10 million on the re-financed loan. "We now face significant uncertainty about whether the foundation’s lender will be willing and able to refinance the loan at affordable terms," says Foundation CEO Carla Knorowski, per ABC News. "The loan comes up for renewal in October 2019, just 20 short months away." The foundation has also started a GoFundMe account (which has only reached about $23,500 as of this writing) and hopes for a $5 million state grant that private donors might match. Without that money, the foundation says it "will have no choice but to accelerate the possibility" of selling the items to a private buyer, "which would likely remove them from public view forever." (Read more Abraham Lincoln stories.)

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