Sunday, September 30, 2007

Update: Lee Letters Sell

Three Robert E. Lee letters sold at yesterday's auction fetched a combined $61,000, the AP reports. The 440 Civil War documents together are estimated to have sold for approximately $400,000 ("neither [owner Thomas] Willcox nor the auction house had specific figures").

"Fewer than 50 people gathered for the auction of old correspondence, telegrams, bills and receipts. Two of the Lee letters were sold to an out-of-state collector bidding by phone. David Ellison of Columbia spent $27,000 for a Lee letter that talked about using slave labor to build defenses. ... Willcox said he was disappointed with the sales. He said he's sure he at least broke even after spending money on legal fees and $70,000 for a detailed appraisal of the documents. 'I thought it would have gone better,' he said. 'At the end of the day, it's over.'"

So ... a multi-year legal battle with the state of South Carolina and the wholesale destruction of a Civil War letter collection, all to break even.