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tv   Stossel  FOX Business  March 26, 2016 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT

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i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." >> the heyday of hollywood. >> it was exciting. bette davis, marilyn monroe, joan crawford. >> a star-struck teen bit by the bug. >> before there were paparazzi, there was jack kuster. >> this autograph hound takes names like no other... >> elvis and, oh my gosh, robert rford. >> you name it, all of them. >> it's probably the best collection in the world. >> ...and leaves his stunned heir a lot to sort out. >> what, in your wildest dreams, is this collection worth? [ theme music plays ] ♪ i'm jamie colby, and today i'm
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in tampa, florida, to meet a man whose strange inheritance, a massive autograph collection, began with a chance encounter. one thing led to another and then, well, i'll let him tell you. >> my name is juan carlos saucedo-campos, and in 2012, my dear friend jack kuster left me his estate, including a collection that nobody has ever seen. come in. >> hi, juan carlos. >> hi, jamie. how are you doing today? >> thank you for inviting me to your home. >> it's my pleasure. thank you for coming. >> it looks like you've been busy. >> i've been working on putting everything together. elvis presley, james dean. >> wow. >> marilyn monroe. >> vivien leigh, paul newman even. >> paul newman. >> most of these photos are original pictures that juan carlos's friend jack kuster snapped with his own camera, then collected an autograph for each one of them. >> oh, look at jane fonda!
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>> when she was just a teenager. >> so he took all these pictures and on top of it got the autographs? >> yes. >> how did this all get started? well, according to juan carlos, jack kuster acquires his first autograph in 1943 at the age of 14, when broadway and hollywood star carmen miranda pays a visit to his hometown, rochester, new york, for a uso show. the teenager musters the courage to approach the flamboyant singer for her swirling signature. from that moment forward, jack knows who he is -- an autograph hound. it takes a lot of guts for a 14-year-old kid. >> for jack, collecting signatures was his calling. soon afterwards, jack and his mother move to new york, where film and stage stars abound. jack secures a day job as a graphic artist. at night, the stage door exits
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of manhattan's legendary theaters are his favorite stomping grounds. today i'm making a quick side trip to times square to meet bob levine, one of jack's fellow autograph hounds. >> hi, jamie! >> bob, how are you? >> how are you? nice to meet you! >> like jack, he began dogging the stars in the golden age of motion pictures. what is the thrill of autograph collecting? >> i don't know, but i get a thrill out of it. i started in '46. then i met jack, and we were friends all through the years. >> i'm wearing my hollywood glamour red lip, to represent the era of autograph signing. >> yes, ha ha ha! >> what was hollywood like back then? >> hollywood was so glamorous, and when the movie stars came to new york, like lana turner or bette davis, it was a different era, and they treated the fans
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with respect. >> and now? >> the glamour is gone. today they have bodyguards. these young kids, they all sign initials now. the autographs that we got then, you could still read them. jack was so fussy, if he didn't like it, he'd ask them to sign it again. >> was he obsessive about collecting? >> yes, yes. he was. that's what his main purpose in life was, to take care of that collection. >> to save money and pursue more autographs, jack rents a tiny apartment on the city's upper west side. >> jack told me many times, "juan carlos, this is my profession. it's hard work, but somebody has to do it." >> a profession that requires coast-to-coast travel. in the 1950s, jack hits the road to the back lots of hollywood studios. >> clint eastwood was found by jack in 1954 outside hollywood studios in california. he was nobody at that time.
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he was so surprised to be asked for an autograph. jack believes that that signature was the very first autograph ever given to anybody by clint eastwood. he got james dean, elvis presley, and many more before they were big stars. ♪ >> was there anyone that was particularly nasty? >> many. i remember the story of katharine hepburn. she would never sign. she would always go, "no, never, never, never on the street." very determined and difficult. >> did he ever get her? >> he had to earn it, but she's right there. >> i see she doesn't look very pleased. jack's persistence pays off in a big way. he shares a taxi with rock hudson and takes this photo. he captures this image of a typically deadpan alfred hitchcock. this one of joe namath in 1969, the year he won
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the super bowl. and sharon tate before her shocking murder. in time, he even begins traveling the world in pursuit of celebrity signatures. throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, he snaps up sports figures, bollywood stars, politicians, and one of his favorites -- mexican telenovela actors. it's on a trip to mexico city in 1993 that jack -- now 64 years old -- approaches a struggling young mexican soap actor for an autograph. now, the young guy in that picture looks a little bit familiar. who is that? >> [ laughs ] you're funny. i was an actor. it was the end of winter in 1993 that i met jack in mexico city. i see jack coming up in the distance. i just know he was somebody different, and he says, "are you an actor?" i was ever so flattered.
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when i met jack, this is the card that i signed for him, and this is the picture he took of myself. >> oh, my, juan carlos, look at you. was this a love at first sight? >> well, it's one of those things that when you know you've found your soul mate. call it what you want it, our chemistry was very compatible, how about that? >> how about that? was it wonderful? >> it was amazing. juan carlos and jack keep in touch over the years. in 1996 juan carlos moves to new york to pursue acting in the states, and jack offers him a place to live. >> that was the turning point. jack made it possible for me to be american citizen. >> one of juan carlos's oldest friends is spiro verras. he got to know jack as well. >> juan carlos is an incredibly caring person. jack needed someone in his life to care for him. >> in 2006, juan carlos decides
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to give up show business and become a certified skin care specialist. he leaves new york and moves to tampa, florida, to open his own spa business. >> i had already been trained as an aesthetician. and a medical company made me an offer that i could not resist to start my own practice, my own business. >> and jack's reaction? >> jack was not very happy. however, he knew i needed to do something for my future and i needed to have a real profession. >> ultimately, jack is the one who told him, "you need to do this." >> wow. >> "you have to move on with your life." >> back in new york, jack continues to add to his collection daily. how many autographs does he have? seems only jack knows. >> did you think it was 10,000? 30,000? >> i would even say, "do you have about 2,000," thinking that that was a lot. and he would just laugh. >> would he part with any of them? >> absolutely not. he would never sell.
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>> but juan carlos worries about his friend jack, who is now 81 years old and living alone. he checks on him every day by phone. and as jack kuster grows more frail, it becomes a favorite topic among his competitors -- what will happen to his famous collection? >> i wrote to a lot of the auction houses. the largest ones knew who jack kuster was before i wrote to them. >> that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question -- what pestered personality called autograph seekers "mosquitoes"? "sleepy hollow" author washington irving? supermodel kate upton? or pro wrestler andré the giant? the answer in a moment. [engines] you can't have a hero, if you don't have a villain. the world needs villains [tires screeching] and villains need cars. ♪
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you'rewhen a majestic beastwoods runs into view. then you run into a tree. but your totaled new car isn't totally replaced. with new car replacement, we'll replace the full value of your car plus depreciation. liberty mutual insurance. [ theme music plays ] >> so, what pestered personality called autograph seekers "mosquitoes"? it's washington irving, annoyed by autograph seekers who showed up on his doorstep. >> by 2010, jack kuster, an aging new york autograph hound, has accumulated a jaw-dropping collection -- thousands of celebrity signatures from all over the world and matching photos he took himself. jack tells his friend juan carlos saucedo-campos that he plans to leave it all to him. one condition -- jack wants to keep his intentions a secret. >> he wanted to sound like the
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eccentric little man that he was and trying to keep it as a mystery. >> he liked the intrigue. >> he loved that, yes. >> juan carlos now lives in tampa, florida, but every single day, he calls jack on the phone, and jack always answers. on july 24, 2012, jack doesn't pick up. >> i called 911. they went to his apartment right away. they found him dead on the floor by the door. he had a massive heart attack. >> as promised, juan carlos is named the executor of jack's estate and the heir to his entire collection. did you really know how big it was going to be? >> i just did not know the magnitude of everything. >> in addition to screen stars like grace kelly and pop icons like michael jackson, jack has hundreds of international
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figures whom juan carlos has never heard of. how many signatures are we talking about? >> we're talking about over 35,000 signatures. >> wait, 35,000? >> thousand. >> plus 1,700 original photos and hundreds more signed promotional stills. juan carlos carts the whole kit and caboodle back to tampa and locks them inside a fire- and waterproof safe. then, he calls his friend and attorney, spiro verras, for help. >> initially, i handled this as i would handle any probate in my practice. i wrote to a lot of the auction houses, and they were all extremely interested. the largest ones knew who jack kuster was before i wrote to them. >> what, in your wildest dreams, juan carlos, what is this collection worth? >> it's hard to put a price on it. >> well, what would an appraiser say? what kind of numbers are we talking about? give me a ballpark.
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that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. according to autograph magazine, which one of these celebrities is most unwilling to give autographs? beyoncé, angelina jolie, or tobey maguire? the answer when we return. don't let dust and allergies get between you and life's beautiful moments. with flonase allergy relief, they wont. when we breathe in allergens, our bodies react by over producing six key inflammatory substances that cause our symptoms. most allergy pills only control one substance. flonase controls six. and six is greater than one. flonase outperforms the #1 non-drowsy allergy pill. so you can seize those moments, wherever you find them. flonase. six is greater than one changes everything.
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when it comes to the fithings you love,. you want more. love romance? get lost in every embrace. into sports? follow every pitch, every play and every win. change the way you experience tv with x1 from xfinity. [ theme music plays ] >> so, which of these celebrities is known as the least likely to sign an autograph? it's tobey maguire. according to autograph magazine, the "spider-man" star ranks among the most unwilling signers. >> in 2012, juan carlos saucedo-campos inherits over 35,000 celebrity signatures and more than 1,700 photographs from his dear friend
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jack kuster. among a tight circle of new york city autograph hounds, jack was a legend. juan carlos recruits his friend and lawyer, spiro verras, to shop the collection around to auction houses and see what it's worth. >> we would get a reasonable market value for the items. juan carlos was struggling to grapple with the vastness of it. >> to get the ball rolling, let's bring in tim luke, who owns treasure quest appraisal group in south florida. before that, he was a director of collectibles at the famed christie's auction house in new york. 35,000 autographs in a collection, is that a stalker or an autograph hound? >> well, it borders on hoarder almost, but it actually is a passion, and like insanity is on the edge of genius, it's that kind of same thing with a collection this large. the other thing that i love about this is that jack got all of these signatures.
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the provenance is so important because there are a lot of fakes that are in the marketplace. >> now, this blew my mind, alfred hitchcock, the photo, but also that he would draw his profile! >> also adds to the value because the doodle is something. it's his profile. that became very iconic to alfred hitchcock. >> so, james dean, this is a very early, early photograph, isn't it? >> this is great, and this becomes a whole nother category when you look at james dean and also bruce lee because they both died unexpectedly early. so you have limited number of these signatures out there. the rarer is bruce lee because we also have a doodle from his character from the films. >> ah, norma jean. >> [ chuckles ] >> tell me about these early pictures of marilyn monroe. >> the early photos, this is really great. very desirable to any monroe collector. >> tim figures the james dean autograph could fetch up to $4,000 at auction.
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bruce lee, $5,000. and the marilyn monroe, $6,000. if these are some of the gold nuggets, what's the whole collection worth? what kind of numbers are we talking about? give me a ballpark. >> i would say for insurance purposes, this is a million-dollar collection, easily, because of the condition. >> in tim's opinion, it might have been worth even more. >> there's a lot of variables that go into this. let's take a look at the elvis photograph, for example. you see it says "to jack"? >> yes. >> well, because it says "to jack," that's limiting the market because is jamie going to be interested in something that says "to jack"? i'd rather just have a regular signature. so, with the "to jack" on it, you're looking at the $800 to $1,200 price range. >> i contacted several of the largest auction houses that deal in autographs. one suggested they will put together a book to honor jack kuster and market the
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product as the jack kuster collection. juan carlos asked me, does this mean that people would be able to buy particular items out of the collection from this catalog? i said yes. >> the heir will have to think about that. so, you have full control over all this. >> a hundred percent. aren't i lucky? >> you are, but what's next? juan carlos's big decision. >> jamie, this is what i want to show you. would you do the honors? that's next. [ gasps ] what's your strange inheritance story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail, or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com. ♪ it took dozens of prototypes. hundreds of crash simulations. thousands of hours of painstaking craftsmanship. and an infinite reserve of patience... ...to create a vehicle that looks,
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it turns out that they could be worth a million dollars -- but to get the highest price at auction, he'd have to split them up. as the offers come in, juan carlos thinks it over -- thinks about the money and about dearly departed jack. his decision? >> i'm in no position to destroy this phenomenal legacy that my dear friend jack left to me. i want to keep it intact. >> but if he won't sell, will the money be there tomorrow? or will it fade away like those golden-era screen stars jack adored? you know, ten years from now, some of these autographs won't be as relevant as they are right now. timing is really an issue. will he ever feel like he missed an opportunity? >> i don't know. it's something that i've actually thought about quite a bit. >> i'm gonna keep it safe and in great condition, as it was left to me. maybe in the future, i might
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change my mind. i don't know, but for the time being, i like to keep it close and admire it. every time i see one signature, i think about jack. >> it seems like you put in a lot of hours to try to make some opportunity happen for him. did you feel disappointed? >> not at all. not at all. it's a rare person who chooses sentiment over money. >> so, instead of collecting a check, juan carlos immerses himself in the painstaking task of archiving the autographs and transferring -- by hand -- the hundreds more photos from film slides to digital archive. >> jamie, this is what i want to show you. would you do the honors? >> today, juan carlos has invited tim luke and me to see the culmination of that effort... what? ...the crown jewels of jack kuster's collection, on display for the very first time. i cannot believe this.
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hollywood glamour everywhere? hello! >> i have categorized by the vintage actors on this wall and the vintage actress on this wall over here. >> wow, hotties over here and babes over here. i like it. jack met all of these people face-to-face? >> he saw them face-to-face, and they all handed their signature to jack. on this part of the gallery, i have all these boxes full of signatures. >> latin tv hosts, mexican stars, soaps. >> british actresses, ballet and dance. >> the forties, the fifties, the sixties, you name it, i have them all. >> oh, my god. >> what do you think that jack would say if he saw this room? >> i can almost see his face right now. he will be absolutely thrilled to see what i've done with his
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collection, exactly what he wanted me to. >> it's beautiful. >> well, my collection would not be complete if i don't have -- >> exactly. >> what's a jamie colby going for nowadays? >> especially with this provenance, it's priceless. >> it's not every day that someone asks for my autograph. i feel like you felt the first time jack asked you for yours. >> oh, well, it's a pleasure. >> a collection that took a lifetime to acquire, now preserved for another lifetime, perhaps, thanks to juan carlos's admiration for his cherished friend. pop star taylor swift recently observed that with the advent of smartphones and front-facing cameras, no one even asks for her autograph anymore. all these kids today want is a selfie. oh, hey. >> hi, are you jamie colby? >> yes. what's your name? >> taylor. would you mind taking a selfie with me? >> i would love to take a selfie with you, taylor.
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i'm jamie colby for "strange inheritance." and remember, you can't take it with you. ♪ >> a precious heirloom... >> "this was once the property of george washington." you're a v.i.p. >> [ laughing ] yeah. >> ...and the pride of a modest family. >> my father was a truck driver. we got along, but we were very frugal. >> so how did she end up with washington's wallet? >> are you a descendant of george washington? >> no, i'm not. and it's quite a long story. >> a story about love of country... >> we want these things because we want a connection to these men. >> ...the allure of big bucks... >> i established a value for the wallet. >> it was a lot of money. >> ...and some good old-fashioned intrigue... >> someone took the wallet and disappeared. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ]
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[ bird caws ] >> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm crossing the delaware river from pennsylvania into new jersey. yes, i'm following the route that general george washington took to his big victory during the revolutionary war -- the battle of trenton. i'm tracking down what i believe is the most intriguing strange inheritance i've heard of so far, something the father of our country may have been carrying that fateful night -- his wallet. >> my name is barbara farwell, and this is my daughter, linda. i inherited something from my mother, and one day my daughter will inherit it from me. >> for reasons that will become clearer as we follow the twists and turns of this story, the farwells have let their heirloom go on display right here in trenton. barbara, how are you? i'm jamie. so nice to meet you. >> i'm glad to meet you. >> hi, linda. how are you?
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>> hi. i'm fine. thank you. >> so, where'd you bring me? >> this is the old barracks museum. >> and you keep something from your family here? >> yes, we do. >> come in. >> during the revolutionary war, this building housed british and hessian soldiers. in fact, it was the target on christmas night in 1776 when general george washington and his men quietly crossed the delaware and launched a surprise attack on the enemy troops who were stationed here... [ men shouting, gunfire ] ...an attack that turned the tide of the revolution and changed the course of world history. there it is! and here we are. so, this is it. it's amazing! it says, "1775." were the initials added by your family? >> no. i think that was way back when that was made. >> are you a descendant of george washington? >> no, i'm not. and it's quite a long story.
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>> a story that begins back in the 1700s, when large wallets like this -- or "pocketbooks," as they're called -- are essential accessories for important men like washington. what strikes you about washington when it comes to money? >> well, he was a wealthy man, but it was mostly in land. so, in terms of cash, that was always a problem for him. >> apropos of a tale about washington's wallet, biographer richard brookhiser tells me that the great man's career revolved, more than anything, around money. the revolutionary war is sparked by cries of "no taxation without representation!" and for washington, raising an army is easier than raising the dough to pay it. >> he sees his men without shoes, he sees them without the weapons they need, and he sees them not being paid, and he is
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the man who's at the center of all this and trying to cope. [ men shouting ] >> washington's ultimate victory doesn't end his country's economic woes. what do we know about the overall economic stability of our nation at that time? >> wars are always expensive. the revolution was no exception, and by the end of it, the united states was broke. >> general washington can't feel much better off. he discovers his mount vernon estate and his massive agricultural enterprise have been mismanaged in his absence. >> washington is back at mount vernon, which he's only visited once in 8 1/2 years of war. he has to get it up and running again. >> he hires this man to help, and 24-year old harvard graduate tobias lear will play a key part in this strange inheritance tale. can you tell me about tobias lear and what his role was? >> washington needs assistants, and tobias lear is one of the
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people who does that for him. >> before long, duty calls washington again -- to become president of a tottering nation that, among other things, isn't paying its bills. and tobias lear goes along for the ride. washington puts him in charge of his bookkeeping, a job that, for the next seven years, engenders a close bond. that's a real relationship of trust, then, between washington and lear. >> absolutely. >> president washington does put the nation's finances on firmer footing. no wonder he's on the $1 bill. it's also why i think inheriting his wallet, of all things, is so cool. no surprise that the first person it passes to, the story goes, is tobias lear, who stays at washington's bedside at mount vernon on the night of december 14, 1799, when the former president dies at age 67.
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but the modern-day heirs in this strange inheritance story, the farwell ladies, are not descendants of tobias lear, either. they invite me back to their home in morrisville, pennsylvania, right across the delaware river, to connect the dots. >> my father was a truck driver. we got along, but we were very frugal. my mother was an excellent homemaker, pretty good cook, and she was a hard worker. >> she also has a little secret. where did your mom keep the wallet? >> in a little black box squirreled away somewhere. >> after the break, the improbable path of washington's wallet, if, in fact, it's really his. she is 100% convinced this is george washington's pocketbook. are you? >> but first, our...
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>> the answer in a moment.
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>> ...who, in today's money, had an estimated $525 million. but give yourself half credit if you picked jfk. his father's fortune would be worth billions today. that trumps washington and makes
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the kennedys the richest family to reach the white house -- so far. >> how neat must it be to possess a piece of history like this wallet owned by the farwell family, with the initials "g.w." and the year "1775"? >> he's the father of the country. >> richard brookhiser is author of books on several founding fathers, including george washington. what do those items from our past leaders add to our american history? >> well, it makes them vivid to see actual objects that they held, that they had, that they used. that makes them like us, because we all have similar things. we want these things because we want a connection to these men. >> i've seen that time and again on "strange inheritance," but the tricky part's proving that thing in grandpa's attic is the
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real deal. the question's raised in episode after episode -- did those guns actually belong to bonnie and clyde? did jfk really sign those letters? did general pickett indeed wear that bloodstained uniform? >> the fancy term auctioneers and appraisers use is "provenance." i'd put it this way -- how can the farwells be sure their beloved family heirloom really is george washington's wallet? did the wallet come with any documentation? >> there was a letter, and it tells the whole story of how it came. >> it's actually an affidavit that's more than a century old, written by a lawyer named alfred bennett. >> linda, who was alfred bennett? >> my great-great-grandfather? >> yes. >> the letter, addressed "to whom it may concern" and signed by bennett in june 1900, traces the wallet back to "the selling
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of the estate of one of the family of tobias lear, private secretary to george washington." and it concludes... "this pocketbook, to the best of my knowledge and belief, was once the property of george washington." you've heard how lear is said to have inherited washington's wallet. what happens next? in 1816, lear commits suicide, and, according to the affidavit, the wallet passes to one of his heirs -- likely his widow, frances. when that heir dies, a man named stacy hall handles the estate and, the letter says, takes possession of the wallet. when he dies, barbara's ancestor attorney john bennett gets it. from there it passes to john's son alfred, author of the affidavit, who bequeaths it to his daughter jane, who passes it to her daughter elva kiernan. and elva kiernan is barbara farwell's mother. she treasures it as though it's
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the most valuable thing she has. it probably is! was she proud of it? >> yes. >> where did your mom keep the wallet? >> in a little black box squirreled away somewhere. >> and inside the wallet are two old paper bills that may well have been washington's. sadly, elva doesn't have the wherewithal to properly display the wallet or to protect it from theft or damage, so, in 1960, she proudly lends it to the nearby washington crossing museum. >> to see it on display and to bring your friends to see it -- "ooh! that belongs to you?" >> but things turn sour in 1976, when the museum renovates for the bicentennial. barbara is dismayed to find the wallet's been removed! >> when i took my friends to see it, to brag about it, "where's the wallet?" >> barbara's mom is beside
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herself. >> she wanted more people to see it around that time. "i am taking the wallet to another museum," and she did. >> score one for jersey! elva crosses the delaware and lends the wallet to the old barracks museum here in trenton. they'll display it, and she can take it out any time she likes. would you not want it here as a center of a coffee table? >> no way. [ chuckles ] >> why not? >> i just was afraid something would happen to it. >> a legitimate fear. in january 1992, barbara's mother is staggered by a call from the museum. >> it's surprising she didn't have a stroke. >> who swiped washington's wallet? that's next. >> here's another... extra credit if you can guess
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>> 15 children, by two wives. [ telephone rings ] >> it's january 1992. 83-year-old widow elva kiernan gets a devastating phone call from the old barracks museum in trenton, new jersey. her precious heirloom, a leather wallet identified as george washington's, has been stolen from its case! >> someone took the wallet and disappeared. the new jersey detectives and the police were on the lookout for it. >> did you post a reward?
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>> yes. total was $1,000 -- $500 from my mother and $500 from the barracks. >> it's all elva can afford, and, presumably, the barracks, too. weeks go by. then... it's back. a local lawyer followed an anonymous tip and secures the wallet's return on presidents' day, 1992. and this is classic -- the 200-year-old bills, presumably washington's, are missing. >> i was upset because i knew, as a child, i had seen the bills many, many times. >> did the lawyer ever disclose who brought him the wallet? >> no. >> do you remember, linda, if there was any information about who actually returned the wallet? >> no. >> but you gave it back to the museum? >> yes. >> that is, after the museum agrees to install a security system. and there it stays for the next decade, until the farwells
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finally decide to have it insured. >> the first time i saw it was at one of my antique-appraisal events. >> lori verderame is an antiques appraiser with a phd in art history. you established a value for the wallet? >> based on comparable sales records, condition, provenance, and also my research, the insurance appraisal that i signed -- the pocketbook here was worth $75,000. >> it was a lot of money. >> enough to give any working-class family pause. >> that much money would really be a nice addition to our bank account [laughs] but my mother was very sure that that wallet shouldn't ever be sold. it should be for everybody to see. >> in fact, elva makes it all the way to 100 and never sells. she passes away in october 2008. barbara not only inherits the wallet but the cachet that comes with it when she takes her
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bridge club to the old barracks for a personalized tour. tell me about it -- when you're able to share it with the ladies at the senior center. >> well, they're amazed. >> you're a v.i.p. >> [ laughing ] yeah. >> that pride in her family's small connection to the father of the country is why she agrees to tell her story to "strange inheritance." but will our questions spoil everything? i'm just curious, once we decided to do an episode of "strange inheritance," whether your thoughts about it changed in any way. >> i honestly did look in the files. >> that's next. we'd love to tell it! send me an e-mail or go to our website. don't let dust and allergies get between you
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>> now back to "strange inheritance." >> i certainly enjoy being the owner and being known as a [chuckling] celebrity.
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>> something curious happened after barbara farwell and her daughter, linda, agreed to let us tell the story about how their family inherited george washington's wallet. they keep it in trenton's old barracks museum, displayed above a decades-old plaque which flatly states it belonged to the father of our country. but when we ask to shoot inside the museum, a member of its staff tells us that now they're no longer sure if that's accurate. uh-oh! i'm wondering whether you took a second look at it and whether your thoughts about it changed in any way. >> i honestly did look in the files. we did not have an exact paper trail that goes right to 1775. >> richard patterson is the director of the old barracks museum. >> we don't have a receipt from washington. if we had a paper trail that went back a century or more, when you have some items that are attributed to a particular person, particularly a famous
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person, that sort of adds to the level of documentation that you would like to have. it appears to be authentic to the period, and it's something that, quite plausibly, was carried by washington. >> mild-mannered barbara can't believe the museum, after all these years, is waffling on the wallet. >> i really am very sure that that's george washington's pocketbook. >> "plausibly" just doesn't cut it for her. washington biographer richard brookhiser understands. is it okay if we just believe it, or do we really need to know for sure? >> no, we want to know for sure. >> and we do know for sure, insists appraiser lori verderame. i ask her to make her case. >> the first thing we're gonna look for is age. i'm also gonna look for construction. the binding is just like what we would typically see. it's made the same way cambridge university would actually make its books. the age of the leather is correct, and these little bands
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indicate where it was kept and what was in it. >> another key detail... >> you'll notice that sunburst in between the monogram of the "g" and the "w." >> yes! >> george washington was part of the freemasons, and that particular sunburst is an image in the 18th century that was also used by the freemasons. >> had washington lived in another age, it might be easier to remove all doubt -- if he'd been photographed with the wallet or if you could swab it for his dna. but dr. lori says that for a 240-year-old artifact, you'll rarely do better than her final piece of proof. >> so, this is where people say, "oh, we don't have a document." we do have a document. >> that affidavit attesting to the chain of custody from washington to farwell's ancestors. never sold, right? >> no, never sold -- always handed down in the family. >> that provenance, dr. lori adds, has never been challenged by anyone outside the farwell family. has dr. lori persuaded you? >> the initials and so on look
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like they were done quite some time ago. >> in a graceful denouement, richard patterson seems to buy it. dr. lori is 100% convinced this is george washington's pocketbook. >> cool. >> are you? >> why not? i was leaning in that direction. >> barbara farwell is also pleased to hear dr. lori thinks the wallet could fetch a higher price -- if she wants to sell. >> value has increased, and condition has basically stayed the same because it's been protected in a museum environment. so i would appraise this george washington pocketbook for $100,000. [ cash register dings ] >> but barbara and linda still say their strange inheritance is not for sale. why is it more important to own the wallet than to sell it and have the money? >> because my mother really wanted us to keep it and pass it down through the ages. it'll be more valuable and more
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interesting as the years go by. >> what happens if linda sells it? >> she said she wouldn't. >> i won't. >> i think i understand it now. >> i wouldn't take it now without an escort. [ chuckles ] >> what is it you're worried will happen to it? >> i don't want it to get stolen again, that's for sure. but did you not say you'd like to see it in the smithsonian? >> yeah, eventually. >> that's where millions of people would see it. >> yeah. >> word traveled fast of washington's victories after he crossed the delaware, with or without that wallet in his vest pocket. frederick the great of prussia said, "the achievements of washington and his little band of men were the most brilliant ever recorded in the annals of military achievements." the father of our country went for broke and pulled it off and so handed down an inheritance to all americans. i'm jamie colby. thanks so much for watching
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"strange inheritance." and remember, you can't take it with you. >> two proud texans with a passion for old west guns, guts, and glory. >> i do see bullet holes. >> two strange inheritances -- one a lone star mystery... >> i'm roy roberson. >> i don't think he wanted anyone to have the combination, because that was his control over the pandora's box. >> ...the other a texas-sized challenge. >> this may be financially one of the dumbest things that i have ever done. >> together, can they make history? >> fire! [ explosion ] [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪

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