Wednesday, June 24, 2009
From Kovel's Comments, June 24, 2009:
A reader, S.C., emailed to ask who gets the money for the stolen Lincoln stamp mentioned last week. The "Ice House" cover (envelope) that bore the stamp was stolen in 1967. Aetna Insurance paid the owner, J. David Baker, $86,000 to cover the loss of the Ice House cover and about 250 other covers that were stolen at the same time. Most of the stolen covers were found and returned in 1978. In 2006 a couple claimed to have found the cover while they were sorting through a dead friends' estate. Another source says the couple claimed they bought the stamp at a flea market twenty years earlier. Another source says the couple claimed they bought the cover at a flea market. The couple took the envelope to a stamp shop in Chicago where it was identified and the police were contacted. The statute of limitations had expired on the 1967 theft, so the case went to court.
Who owned the stamp -- the finders, the original owners, the insurance company, or another collector who had offered to buy it when it surfaced? The insurance company had been involved in several mergers and the judge ruled it was no longer the same company that had insured the stamp. The collector had no proof he had purchased the rights to buy the stamp because those involved were dead. The ownership was finally awarded to the Baker estate in 2008. So the money, $431,250, went to the Baker heirs.
But the whole story is even more complicated. It is part of a real life detective drama involving a fine arts thief, the Chicago mob, a porn shop owner, a murder, a blackmail demand for the return of the stamp, and the suicide of a man who was accused of selling bogus collectibles. To this day no one admits to knowing where the stamp has been all these years.
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Penny and Doug
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