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Author Topic:   Former Cosmosphere director Max Ary indicted for stealing, selling space artifacts
Aztecdoug
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posted 04-07-2005 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is quite a twist on the story. It just opens up all kinds of questions now on many fronts.

John K. Rochester
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posted 04-07-2005 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
May I suggest innocent until proven guilty? Max has done some remarkable things to preserve space history... let's at least give the benefit of the doubt.

MrSpace86
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posted 04-07-2005 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't believe it either. Max basically made the Cosmosphere, so he is a big asset to space museums and such. I agree with John on this one.

tigga
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posted 04-07-2005 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tigga   Click Here to Email tigga     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do not know anything more than I have read about this situation. However I read it with eyes that come from the following observation...

Some items that are from my personal space collection are in my previous facility in the UK. There are items at Chabot that belong to the previous director. In both cases, the paperwork was done at the point of departure in order to rely on more than collective memory and was all friendly and organized.

When China went into space, I personally bought a large number of memorabilia pieces with the intent of creating a small exhibit. My facility couldn't afford to buy the pieces, but I could, so I did. And actually, I don't think we've done the paperwork yet

It's really common for a person who has a lifelong passion about a subject, enough to have big visions and do great things, to intertwine their life with that of their institution. All too often they don't think about keeping the sorts of records that can prove ownership or recording every little detail, simply because they've never considered that they won't be there.

Whether any of this pertains in this case, I do not know, but I felt it was worth sharing.

John McGauley
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posted 04-07-2005 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John McGauley   Click Here to Email John McGauley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sadness is the only word I have to describe the feeling of seeing this happen. I had the opportunity to interview and just plain chat with Max on several occasions, and I was always struck so profoundly with his love for spaceflight artifacts. He seemed to have a very deep passion for bringing them in from the cold and making sure that they were preserved and protected.

The incredible lengths that he went to in the restorations of Odyssey and Liberty Bell 7, and in the efforts (which he started) to locate the interior of the Apollo 15 Command Module, are all one needs as proof of Max's commitment.

I interviewed Max once in his office at the Cosmosphere and was floored by the number of items, large and VERY small, in their collection. That day, he had the flight suit and helmet worn by Jim Lewis on the day Liberty Bell 7 sank, in a box on his office floor. He had just received it from Mr. Lewis, and he was just about giddy over having added it to Cosmosphere's collection. He seemed profoundly touched to get the personal items like that that connected real people and the spaceflight heroics they performed.

My favorite moment was during a chat in an empty dining room at a hotel near the Grissom Memorial in Spring Hill, Indiana. Max was there to present Liberty Bell 7 components to the Grissom museum. For whatever reason, I was considering getting OUT of space collecting at the time. But Max gave me a bit of a lecture about NEVER letting go of a spaceflight collection as long as I loved the subject.

I may never see him again, but I'll always owe Max a favor for giving me that advice.

It's hard to even fathom that somebody like Max would do what he's accused of. I hope this all turns out to have been a terrible misunderstanding.

nasamad
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posted 04-07-2005 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How can a Omega mock-up astronaut's watch be valued at $25,000?

I don't know the price of Speedmasters in the US but you could probably buy five real speedmasters from that era and fit them with velcro straps for that kind of money!

Spacepsycho
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posted 04-07-2005 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While John may feel sadness, the only words that come to mind are "betrayal, hypocrite and thief." Max is the worst kind of thief, he earns your trust and respect, then he betrays that trust to steal from the public's treasure trove of space artifacts.

After reading the entire indictment, Max is going to be left bankrupt, humiliated (justly so) and there's no doubt that he'll be spending a good chunk of his life as a guest in a federal prison.

What really bothers me is how Max used to rant against any space artifacts being sold to private collectors because he thought they'd disappear, never to be seen again. I guess he didn't really believe what he was saying and it turns out Max was a wonderful supplier to the private collector after all.

I wonder if NASA is going to go after the stolen artifacts that were sold through Superior? From the sounds of it, Superior was instrumental in providing overwhelming evidence to the government and agreeing to testify against Max.

John McGauley
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posted 04-07-2005 05:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John McGauley   Click Here to Email John McGauley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your post hits squarely upon the exact reasons why I feel so sad about this. If this is true, it is the worst kind of betrayal. His words were those of a great champion for preservation of space artifacts. These actions, if true, are those of a someone exactly the opposite, someone who wants to profit from the history he professes to care about.

My sadness is a reflection of that. We would all want to be considered innocent until proven guilty. But this is pretty overwhelming.

SpaceBuff45
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posted 04-07-2005 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceBuff45   Click Here to Email SpaceBuff45     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just was going to spectate, but after reading the previous poster's comment, I felt motivated to respond.

There are a lot of scummy CEO's out there these days. Enron, Martha, Tyco, the list goes on and on. It becomes so easy to stereotype these people and our response to them. "Them darn greedy scoundrels, they think they're so smart". You cannot allow yourself to train yourself to react to people in such away. You read 36 pages of text that were written to make Max sound guilty. But what have we heard from Max and/or his attorney? We must be civil and hear BOTH sides before damning him.

He has done too much for space history and preservation, he deserves it, and we owe it to him.

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posted 04-07-2005 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Moonpaws   Click Here to Email Moonpaws     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just finished reading about 25 pages of the 36 page lawsuit. Selling artifacts from the Cosmosphere at Superior under his own account and then depositing that money into his own personal bank account clearly shows me that Max has a lot to worry about. No doubt that the people who bought these items have something to worry about as well. Don't put a wolf in charge of the hen house.

Spacepsycho
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posted 04-07-2005 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that Max is innocent till proven guilty and there are a few very greedy CEO's who would make stupid and foolish decisions to make money. However, keep in mind that 97% of the CEO's in this country do not fall into the category of committing gross criminal behavior and while the high profile cases are horrendous in their scope, it's not common.

From reading the indictment, it's obvious that this investigation into Max's thefts has been well researched, well documented and there is collaborating evidence from multiple sources. I'm sure that Superior made a deal to offer evidence and testimony against Max to avoid any charges or implications of impropriety on their part.

To have Max say that private collectors shouldn't be allowed to own any space artifacts because we don't know how to protect, preserve or display them and then he turns around and sells stolen NASA items to the private collectors and then deposits the money in his personal bank accounts... well that's just arrogant and obscene.

How many other items did Max steal and sold to private clients that didn't have any paperwork for and he didn't get caught with?

I have a feeling that whoever purchased the stolen items from Superior will get a knock on the door by the FBI or will be contacted by them shortly. If the items are confiscated by the FBI, Superior better be ready to refund the money or they'll face some lawsuits also.

If Max had taken these artifacts for his own collection because he loves space artifacts, I would understand that and I would hope after the items were returned, he would have been let go with a slap on the wrist. But to steal these wonderful artifacts, then sell them to improve his lifestyle, that's just pure unadulterated greed at it's worst and Max deserves to go to prison.

This is NOT a case of a "dispute" between the Cosmosphere and Max, it's out and out theft of public property that belongs to all of us and I for one hopes the government makes Max an example to prevent others in his position from committing the same crimes.

In reality, after negotiating with federal prosecutors, Max will give back the money to NASA or the other victims, he'll pay a fine, probably do some community service and at the most spend 12-18 months in a level one federal prison or a local country club as they're called and that will be the end of it. The general public has little interest in these items, so I'd expect there to be a plea offer negotiated in the next few months.

Rizz
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posted 04-07-2005 11:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a drag...

I bought a couple of the Apollo 13 lucites from Max many years ago. They came with a COA, stating that the couch samples were from the Apollo 13 spacecraft.

I sent the lucites and Cosmosphere COAs to Novaspace for Lovell's signatures. Capt. Lovell signed the lucites, but refused to sign the COAs. Hmmmmm...

Now I'm wondering if those couch samples are from Max's living room couch.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-07-2005 11:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the indictment only one, individual lucite produced by the Cosmosphere is in question.

The items and their current owners have been identified and many - including myself - have already surrendered the pieces to NASA's Office of the Inspector General (which was acting on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department).

To my knowledge, there are no items in any current auctions relevant to this investigation.

I do not believe Superior Galleries could be held accountable legally, as regardless if the items were stolen or not, Max Ary would have had to have signed a consignor agreement that in part would have asserted that he possessed title to the items that he was selling and (without checking) likely indemnify Superior from legal challenges.

Further, if you go back and read the auction rules that all bidders agreed to by bidding, they specifically preclude buyers from holding Superior Galleries accountable if later the item they purchased is found to be stolen.

Lastly, the "Superior Galleries" to which Ary consigned is not Regency-Superior Galleries hosting an auction this weekend. Some of the people involved are the same, but they are a different company.

Which leaves the individual collectors adversely affected by this, such as myself, with little recourse but to chalk it up to experience, hope for reparations being ordered as part of the Justice Department's case or consider legal action against the individual(s) who are ultimately found guilty of the theft.

If that were to be Ary, I do not know presently how I would proceed. I'm out a significant chunk of change and have a hole in my collection - the latter of which I am currently more upset about. That said, I deeply respect Ary for the amazing work he did at the Cosmosphere, his championing the recovery of Liberty Bell 7, the restoration of Apollo 13's Odyssey and other such truly admirable projects.

Suffice to say, I did not enjoy posting the news I did yesterday and for multiple reasons. Whatever the outcome of this case, I only hope a silver lining can emerge: that auction houses not currently doing so, pay more attention to verifying their consignors and that museums make sure that their inventory systems are based on a set of checks and balances preventing any individual or group from doing their collections harm.

SRB
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posted 04-08-2005 12:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Assuming that Ary pleads guilty or is convicted (because he is still innocent until either occurs), it will be interesting to see what liability the auction house (which is still in business) has under California law for selling stolen property. As between the innocent buyer and the innocent (?) auction house, I am not sure the auction house is in the clear. After all they profited by keeping the commissions on the sale of the stolen property.

Now that the indictment is public, this matter can be looked into. Maybe Ary will make restitution, although that is usually unlikely. If not with the amounts of money involved I would not be surprised to see the auction house having to do something for the buyers.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2005 12:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Superior's 2000 Terms and Conditions:
Bidder expressly consents to the following Waiver and Release:

Bidder, for himself, his heirs, agents, successors and assigns, generally and specifically waives and releases, and forever discharges Superior, and its respective affiliates, parents, shareholders, agents, subsidaries, employees, members of their respective board of directors, and each fo them, and their respective successors and assigns from any and all claims, rights, demands and causes of action and suits, of whatever kind or nature, whether in law or equity, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which Bidder may claim to have with respect to the title to any goods purchased, the sale itself, and/or the auction, except where such reimbursement is otherwise authorized in these Terms and Conditions of Sale.

It is the intention of Bidder that this waiver and release shall be effective as a bar to each and every claim, demand, cause of action and suit that may arise hereunder, and Purchaser herbey knowingly and voluntarily waives any and all rights and benefits otherwise conferred upon him by the provision of Section 1542 of the California Civil Code, which reads in full as follows:

"A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE CREDITOR DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF KNOWN BY HIM MUST HAVE MATERIAL-LY AFFECTED HIS SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR." (sic)

Outside of that, there is another term that applies to this case:
If a dispute arises concerning ownership of a lot that has been bid upon, Superior reserves the right to commence a statutory inter-pleader proceeding at the expense of the Consignor and successful Bidder and any other applicable party, and in such event shall be entitled to its reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
So not only does the bidder agree to indemnify Superior by participating in the auction, but also agrees to pay (in part) their legal fees in the case that arbitration is commenced by Superior.

mensax
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posted 04-08-2005 06:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mensax   Click Here to Email mensax     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I'm sorry to hear about the hit that your collection has taken. After reading the list of stolen items I imagine that your loss was a significant one. I hope you will be able to recoup your loss.

People put in positions where power is great, temptation is strong, and opportunities present themselves, frequently make poor decisions. Presidents, CEO's, and clergy fill our newspapers. The Cosmosphere failed in not having a better system of accountability.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2005 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following statement is issued on behalf of Max Ary, by one of his attorneys, Lee Thompson of Wichita, in response to accusations made in federal charges announced yesterday:
Max Ary is proud of his past association with the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, as its founder and leader for more than 26 years. He is also proud that he has been a pioneer in the preservation of space history for more than a quarter of century.

Mr. Ary and his attorneys, including former federal prosecutors and investigators, have been looking into these matters for more than a year and the inquiry is ongoing. Based on that investigation Mr. Ary intends to defend his innocence against any charge that he harmed the Cosmosphere or the federal space program.

Mr. Ary's defense will certainly contend that his actions in dealing with tens of thousands of space items during his tenure at the Cosmosphere complied with the policies of the Cosmosphere's Board of Directors.

It is important to remember that Max Ary is presumed to be innocent, and any charges are merely accusations.

Thompson Law Firm, LLC

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2005 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Statement on Max Ary indictment issued by James Pickel, Omniplex board of trustees president
The Board of Trustees and management staff of Omniplex are fully aware of the dispute between the Kansas Cosmosphere and Max. He has kept us informed of the situation every step of the way. However, the situation truly is between the Cosmosphere and Max, and has nothing whatsoever to do with his tenure at Omniplex. Max has been an extremely able leader for this institution at a time when we've needed someone who can take this institution to a level of regional prominence. He is someone who has constantly exhibited the qualities of integrity, honesty, industry expertise and sincere passion for bettering the museum and its endeavors. Our support lies with Max and his family and we look forward to a speedy resolution to the situation.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2005 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following statement is issued by Jeff Ollenburger, president and CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, in response to the U.S. Attorney's filing of charges against former Cosmosphere President Max Ary:
The Board of Directors and staff of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center have been saddened by the charges filed against Max Ary for the theft of artifacts from the Cosmosphere's collection.

In the fall of 2003, the Cosmosphere's internal inventory uncovered irregularities -- and further investigation showed items were removed from the collection and sold improperly. Upon review of the information and materials gathered, the U.S. Attorney's office, the NASA Inspector General's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation found they had sufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case against Mr. Ary. The Cosmosphere has cooperated fully with authorities as requested, and we will continue to do so.

These developments are troubling and we know anyone who has the best interests of the Cosmosphere in mind will share our concerns. But the responsibility for the investigation is in the hands of the federal authorities and we will join the rest of the community of Cosmosphere supporters in awaiting the outcome.

While this has been a very difficult time, the Cosmosphere is literally a steward of history, and our first and foremost priority is to preserve and protect the artifacts entrusted to us. We hope to have all the items returned to their rightful place in the Cosmosphere's collection as soon as possible. These pieces of international space history belong to the public, and they must be preserved for the benefit of future generations. We have also taken a considerable number of steps to insure to the best of our abilities that such a theft does not occur again, including strengthening all policies related to the care and oversight of the collection and the security systems that monitor our facilities.

Even amidst these significant distractions, the board and entire staff of the Cosmosphere have remained focused on our mission to educate and inspire people of all ages through the wonder of spaceflight. We will continue to enhance, grow and expand the reach and impact the Cosmosphere has on the public and remain committed to ensuring a long and healthy future for the museum.

We want to thank our many supporters who are standing beside us during this difficult time and we want to assure everyone that the Cosmosphere remains one of the world's most significant space museums and remains open for visitors.

Aztecdoug
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posted 04-08-2005 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The sad part is that everyone gets hurt. Though, in that fine print we simply ignore when we sign up for an auction, there are words that protect the auction house from pain. They have to do that though, I imagine, to remain viable.

The twist that hurts is that as a buyer, you don't know the source of the objects you are buying. You are blind to the background of that item or the seller. You are excluded from making any type of judgment about the source of that item. You depend on the auction house to consign legitimate items. It is that trust, which is apparently imaginary, that is now burning several collectors. So how does a collector remain viable?

This whole episode is very complicated on many, many levels.

TrueNorth
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posted 04-08-2005 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TrueNorth   Click Here to Email TrueNorth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it just me or shouldn't there have been red flags going up everywhere when the director of a prestigious space museum is privately dealing in space collectibles? Wouldn't that be like a diamond miner having a sideline buying and selling raw diamonds? Am I missing something here?

Especially in this case if the items were Apollo 13 and Liberty Bell 7 related?

In any case I feel great pain for the collectors who are getting burned by this and also for all the people this is hurting. I have heard nothing but good things about the Cosmosphere and hope to visit someday.

spaceflori
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posted 04-08-2005 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceflori   Click Here to Email spaceflori     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Remember when dealing with an auction house you never get to know the name of the consignor of an item you bought so there was absolutely no red flag in this particular case to watch out for... don't know if he sold stuff privately but it seems we are only talking about stuff sold through Superior.

While Superior mentioned from time to time famous consignors such as astronaut "from the collection of" I have just checked the sales in question and there was no remark about it.

Glint
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posted 04-08-2005 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Board of Trustees and management staff of Omniplex are fully aware of the dispute between the Kansas Cosmosphere and Max. He is someone who has constantly exhibited the qualities of integrity, honesty, industry expertise and sincere passion for bettering the museum and its endeavors...
Does this mean that Omniplex won't be conducting an internal inventory of their own? Sounds like they're whistling past the bone yard.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2005 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
United States Attorney Eric Melgren said today that defendant Max Ary is set for an initial appearance in federal court at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 27, 2005.

At the hearing before U.S. Magistrate Donald W. Bostwick, Ary will be advised of the pending charges, the maximum penalties for conviction and the right to counsel.

Dan Lorraine
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posted 04-08-2005 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Lorraine   Click Here to Email Dan Lorraine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceflori:
Remember when dealing with an auction house you never get to know the name of the consignor of an item you bought so there was absolutely no red flag in this particular case to watch out for
You're right Florian that the bidders don't know who is consigning the item... but the auction house does! John raises a very valid point!

DC Giants
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posted 04-08-2005 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DC Giants   Click Here to Email DC Giants     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a side note, I was left a voice mail yesterday by a reporter for the Kansas City Star who was writing an article regarding collecting space related items. He found my name from the cS roster. Unfortunately, I was not able to call him back in time before the story ran and the paper ended up running a story focusing on the Max Ary indictment rather than collecting space related items.

Richard
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posted 04-08-2005 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard   Click Here to Email Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Say, for instance, an item of interest was purchased and was cut up and sold, or the lunar soil was taken off an item and sold in pieces. How is that handled? Does the gov't go after each "piece" holder? Does the seller have to refund the money? Does the seller have to repay the Kansas Cosmosphere?

MrSpace86
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posted 04-08-2005 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Which Cosmosphere lucite item is in question?

Hawkman
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posted 04-09-2005 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by John K. Rochester:
May I suggest innocent until proven guilty...

You may... but that only really applies in a court of law... not a court of public opinion. Two words... Michael Jackson. Eveyone who read those two words just formed an opinion as to whether he is guilty or not and most aren't in the court room. I understand what you are saying but you know as well as anyone else that people don't work like that.

E2M Lem Man
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posted 04-09-2005 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have worked in the museum business for over 18 years and also know Ary. I know he traded with some collectors on a personal level "for the museum", and that those he traded with often felt that there was something "funny" about it. I also know that many of the astronauts trusted Max highly. I showed one Apollo celebrant an item that I found in the old Rockwell junkyard and he said that I had to give that to Max. I refused.

But being in this business I have seen items thrown in the trash - and people retrieve them. This becomes wrong when the person that has the power to throw them away - can also retrieve them for their own personal use or sale.

But part of the blame must also go to the auction house I believe - as in the case of Ary - that their experts should know that his museum has certain items on display and a red flag should go up if something from these appears for sale.

It is just more work for the auctioneer!

Sadly, there appears that over the past few years that the Max Ary stories are too many to discount.

John K. Rochester
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posted 04-09-2005 09:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hawkman:
You may... but that only really applies in a court of law... not a court of public opinion. Two words... Michael Jackson.
Ah yes... just as people knew O.J. Simpson murdered two people in cold blood. Public opinion and the trail of evidence did not help very much at all in that courtroom.

You forgot to quote the most important part of my statement... "give him the benefit of the doubt." I guess only Thomas Stafford and I stand together in this matter. Public opinion is fine, but the public jumps to conclusion before hearing evidence. The old "if it's in the paper or on the news, it must be true" adage.

SpaceBuff45
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posted 04-09-2005 10:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceBuff45   Click Here to Email SpaceBuff45     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I couldn't agree more with the previous post... those 36 pages were written by the prosecution, so of course he's going to sound guilty. Unfortunately for Max, there's no 36 page statement he can release to defend himself, we must wait till trial to hear his side.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-09-2005 11:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
Which Cosmosphere lucite item is in question?
The indictment lists "a Cosmosphere produced acrylic from Jim Lovell's couch" sold in the May 2001 Superior Galleries auction.

Checking the catalog, it appears to be lot 915.

The only contention the indictment charges about this particular, single lucite was that when it was sold (along with other items) the payment sent to the Cosmosphere was allegedly deposited into Ary's personal account.

The sale of the lucite itself was not listed as an issue.

albatron
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posted 04-10-2005 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With regards to Superior, well yes they knew who was consigning, but think about this - Ary was a very well respected museum director. Why would they question him? They don't question astronauts who submit flown items nor should they. Now if some guy no one has ever heard of pops up with a ton of stuff then of course you look at him with a jaundiced eye.

Think about amongst our community - there are certain folk you buy items from unquestionably - and some folks are elevated to godlike status. And as nice a guy as they may be, do you truly know them and where they get their stuff? Nope, there's a high level of trust here.

Superior didn't do anything wrong but, some will hold it against them unfortunately.

As I've said before, innocent or guilty, the fallout will be bad in many areas.

And as I also said, the indictment is just that. Damning to be sure, but remember the "suspect" and his team have yet to put on a rebuttal or their side. As an esteemed astronaut says "$25,000 for a mock up Omega?".

Hey he may very well have done some improper things, but its way too early yet to say for sure. Certainly everyone's got an opinion, but it would behoove all of us to keep an open mind. Both ways - that he could be guilty as well as innocent.

Rodina
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posted 04-10-2005 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina   Click Here to Email Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rizz:
Capt. Lovell signed the lucites, but refused to sign the COAs.
I wouldn't read anything into Lovell's refusal to sign a COA. Why would he put his name on anything that he didn't have control over? I bet it is rare that these guys sign any COA of something that was not personally in their control all these years.

STEVE SMITH
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posted 04-10-2005 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for STEVE SMITH   Click Here to Email STEVE SMITH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The federal attorney has asked for the trial to be in Wichita (about 40 miles from Hutchinson). The opening proceedings are scheduled for late April.

Spacepsycho
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posted 04-10-2005 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I keep reading about how a mockup Omega watch isn't worth $25,000. I agree that it's a ridiculous price, but that $25,000 was for the insured value, not what it cost to make. For $25k anyone could get 10 vintage watches identical to what went to the moon, so the fact that there was a mockup watch at all is beyond me.

On the artifacts that I lend out to museums, I also hike up the value of the items in case the artifact is damaged, lost or destroyed. I'm going to have to fight it out with the insurance company and you know their going to try to beat the value down to as little as possible. That's what the Cosmosphere did when they loaned out this mockup watch and insured it for $25,000.

From the indictment it seems that none of the insurance money recovered from the loss of the mockup watch, made it back to the Cosmosphere's bank account and it was put into the private bank acct of Max Ary. Why? Attorneys get sanctioned and disbarred everyday for just that same co-mingling.

While I agree that you're innocent till proven guilty, the indictment is very detailed in it's charges, Superior is providing damning evidence as to the chain of custody and if nothing else, let a judge or jury look at the evidence.

What I'm really curious about is why Max was selling rare space artifacts owned by NASA and the Smithsonian under his personal Superior account, depositing the money in his personal bank account, while signing the loan papers from NASA saying that all of the items were still at the Cosmosphere?

Like I've said before, Max will plead guilty to one count or possibly a lesser charge, then he'll more than likely pay restitution to all of the victims, then be put on probation so he can keep his position in Oklahoma.

What I'm curious about is why everyone on this board isn't in an uproar about how the dozens of honest people who were victims of Max and how they've all lost their money due to his greed. Does nobody care about the fact that they're the victims?

Does nobody think it's ironic that Max talks about how private collectors should never be allowed to own rare artifacts, but then he's making $180,000 from private collectors through Superior auctions? So I guess then it's okay to sell rare artifacts to us. What a hyprocrite and to me, he's worse than a common thief if the charges are true.

John K. Rochester
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posted 04-12-2005 07:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"If all this is true" -- that's how you worded it -- so let's see if it is before ripping the guy to shreds in a court of public opinion. That's my only point. I'm done... argue amongst yourselves.

sroesch
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posted 04-12-2005 07:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sroesch   Click Here to Email sroesch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Should we not judge a man's character based solely on the media? The media is in the business market just as everyone else... sell the product in any way possible to get the public to buy it.

Before we condemn a man in the public forum based on accusations, shall we wait til we hear the other side to the story with all the facts? Just a thought!

Spacepsycho
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posted 04-12-2005 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that Max is innocent until proven guilty, however, it's painfully obvious that there was some hanky panky going on with Max's selling of rare artifacts on loan from NASA and the National Air and Space Museum, then signing NASA loan papers saying the items were still at the Cosmosphere. When you're the head honcho of one of the leading museums, it's your duty to go out of your way and prevent any situation which even has the look of impropriety, let alone co-mingling funds for your personal enrichment.

As far as judging Max's character because of what the media tells us to think, nobody is even looking at the media reports, we're all looking at the 36 page federal indictment.

I'm not ready to hang Max, he does deserve and have the right to be heard, as we all do. However, the US Attorney wouldn't have spent 3+ years investigating, collecting collaborating evidence from multiple sources including NASA, National Air and Space Museum, Superior, Cosmosphere, all of his bank and financial records, plus all of the victims who lost very rare and expensive artifacts that were confiscated by the federal government.

How about a word of support for the victims to be compensated by Max? Is there a single person who posts in support of Max who's given a seconds thought to the dozens of people who've lost thousands of dollars? They didn't knowingly buy stolen merchandise, but they're the ones paying for Max's actions and those who lost their hard earned money are the ones who deserve justice. I have no desire to see Max in prison and in fact I couldn't care less if he spends one day in jail, I'd just like to see the truth come out.

Fortunately the only one speaking up for the victims is the US Attorney and we'll have to see what type of plea agreement they offer Max, but hopefully it will include restitution for all of the victims.


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