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Astronaut's presidential medal turns up on eBay


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#1 Bob Hudson

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 06:46 AM

You can find the full story here (including how the would-be seller ended up with this): http://www.signonsan..._lz1n4read.html

"CHICAGO – The eBay posting promised a one of a kind, and sure enough it was: a Presidential Medal of Freedom made for James Lovell, commander of the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 space mission.

After two days of bidding in mid-January, the price was at $5,000 and still likely to soar.

“This really belongs in a museum for many to see,” the seller wrote. “YOU WILL NOT FIND ANOTHER ... EVER.”

The seller, a woman who frequently sells on eBay, found a taker: the FBI.

The red, white and blue decoration, highlighted by a five-pointed star and etched with the name “James Arthur Lovell Jr.” on its back, is in the possession of the FBI's Chicago office and agents are trying to solve the mystery of how it slipped away from the government.

Lovell was awarded a Medal of Freedom by President Nixon in 1970, but the version originally made for him came out blemished. Government officials had held that medal back to destroy it, but it somehow wound up in the hands of a woman in suburban Philadelphia and, 37 years later, was for sale on the Internet.

The FBI seized it in January after Lovell's attorney alerted authorities to the Internet sale. No charges have been filed, but they could be pending an ongoing investigation, said FBI Special Agent Brian Brusokas, who investigates cyber crimes. "


#2 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 07:29 AM

I bet this medal has been in private hands since 1970. Back then instead of destroying it, someone easily could have kept it. There was no SVA back then :rolleyes: . The FBI will probably have a hard time finding out the circumstances almost 40 years after the fact. I'm glad someone did keep it instead of destroying it. At least now people can see it and enjoy it and it will be preserved. It looks nicer than a blob of metal would

Kurt

Edited by KASTAUFFER, 04 April 2007 - 07:45 AM.


#3 Bob Hudson

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 07:39 AM

I bet this medal has been in private hands since 1970. Back then instead of destroying it, someone easily could have kept it.
Kurt



It sound like that's what happened. I'll bet that had Lovell not been alive this thing would have been auctioned off without incident. But, this is another case of the government responding to VIP outrage and no doubt government lawyers have been working overtime to shoehorn this thing into some probably obscure law so they can justify their seizure.

#4 Kadet

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:53 AM

I think Lovell and his family have every right to be upset over this (if, in fact that is what caused the FBI to get involved). This medal should never have been in private hands to begin with. This collector rights/outrage stuff can be taken too far IMO...

#5 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 07:42 AM

I didnt know collectors had any rights :blink: :D Private property rights dont seem to amount to much anymore as we have seen with the SVA .

Seriously, I am just glad this medal still exists for us to see . I would be rather irratated if the government destroys it now as the original intent was. The person who worked at the government who made the descision to keep it rather than destroy did steal government property, but the end result is the preservation of something extraordinary. I hope the government does the right thing by displaying it.


Kurt

#6 Bob Hudson

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 08:11 AM

I didnt know collectors had any rights :blink: :D Private property rights dont seem to amount to much anymore as we have seen with the SVA .

Seriously, I am just glad this medal still exists for us to see . I would be rather irratated if the government destroys it now as the original intent was. The person who worked at the government who made the descision to keep it rather than destroy did steal government property, but the end result is the preservation of something extraordinary. I hope the government does the right thing by displaying it.
Kurt



And keep in mind that perhaps a majority of what collectors "own" is government property that was never formally released to the public. What if you "own" a medal from a WWI soldier and a member of his family learns about it and goes after it? Maybe the medal has not been in family custody for 70 years and they their ancestor should not have given it away? They'd have a better case than Lovell, since this was not his medal set: he got his, this was sent back presumably to whomever made it.

Have you seen some of the news stories about this with the headline "FBI recovers astronaut's missing medal" - duh, it's not his medal, again he's got his. The stories also refer to it as having been "missing since 1970" as if the poor astronaut has been waiting 37 years to get it back. Fact is, no one knew it was "missing" until the FBI was called in. 37 years ago this was probably considered trash and someone decided it was too interesting to put in the dumpster (one story said it disppeared from the White House but offers no support for that).

The problem with this kind of thing is that is makes the hapless would-be seller out to be some sort of criminal praying on an aging astronaut. The real shame would be if charges are concocted and filed.

#7 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 08:28 AM

And keep in mind that perhaps a majority of what collectors "own" is government property that was never formally released to the public. What if you "own" a medal from a WWI soldier and a member of his family learns about it and goes after it? Maybe the medal has not been in family custody for 70 years and they their ancestor should not have given it away? They'd have a better case than Lovell, since this was not his medal set: he got his, this was sent back presumably to whomever made it.


That has happened to me on 2 occasions.

The first occasion I contacted the family about a medal I had bought and the medal had really been stolen from a storage unit. I gave it back no questions asked. The family was grateful, and I was glad it was back in the right hands.

The second time a family member ( a cousin and a police officer ) spotted a post of mine on the web about a PH I own , and said the medal had been stolen from their family 50 years ago and he wanted it back right away. I did a search and found the vets sister and discovered their Father had been re-married. After he died, his new wife sold everything back in the 1950's. It wasnt stolen at all.

I told the police officer cousin if he could provide a police report showing it had been stolen, I would give it back. I also told him that I would sell it back to the family for exactly what I had paid. I told him the amount and he was not interested. I still own the medal.

I am now hesitant to post the names of the vets with the medals I display on the web.

You could apply this same issue to anything with a " name attached " to it . How about a Uniform with a name written inside. The family may want that back too. It was stolen from Grandpas closet. It not just about medals.

Kurt

Edited by KASTAUFFER, 05 April 2007 - 08:39 AM.


#8 emaier3

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 09:06 AM

It looks like we are dealing with two seperate issues here. One is the Astronaut's medal, which was never issued because of an error and appearntly stolen from the government's warehouse. Therefor it was always government property and never the property of Lovell or anyone else. The second issue is of medals actually awarded to someone by the government. Once this is doen, the ownership of the medal passes out of the government's hands into the hands of the individual. Its therefor private property.

I have had several people contact me about medals on my web site. One person was nice, and I sold him back the medal. Another was an rump and demanded I give back something that was never his. And the third tried the policeman buddy harrasement thing. I told both #2 and #3 to provide a Stolen Goods report dated before I bought the medal or go pound sand. Neither ever did and the issue dropped.

This is a scarry time for the Constitution all around and I hope that our rights are maintained. Its too bad that so many servicemen have sacrificed so much to see the very thing they fought for trampled on by these clowns.

-- Ed Maier

#9 DMD

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:07 PM

Here is a link to another website that shows a photo of the obverse and reverse of the medal, plus another photo of Lovell wearing it:

http://www.collectsp...ws-040407a.html

#10 DMD

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:36 PM

Also, here is a link to the auction and some photos from the auction:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem

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#11 M60 Driver

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:16 PM

I just don't see the issue here. Somebody was contracted by the government to create a medal. The medal was flawed and and sent back to be made anew. Instead of destroying a beautiful piece of artwork, somebody took it home. If the government at that time was so concerned about the medal they could have destroyed it themselves.

And now, 40 years later, some hapless soul is trying to make a few bucks. There is no intended impugning of the astronaut nor his due rewards. Lovell was bestowed a perfect version of the medal. It is not like this medal was stolen from him. It is a rare historical artifact that somebody saved and who now wants to sell it to another history geek, just like me but with oodles more money.

Sorry for ranting, but I am still mad at my local sheriff for taking down the Aqua Teen blinky sign that was attached to my propertyand not returning it so I could sell it on Ebay.

#12 Bob Hudson

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 06:25 PM

It looks like we are dealing with two seperate issues here. One is the Astronaut's medal, which was never issued because of an error and appearntly stolen from the government's warehouse. Therefor it was always government property and never the property of Lovell or anyone else.


That is true of a lot of militaria: helmets, canteens, some uniform items, etc. Somebody just took it home with them. Likely we all own something for which the government never relinquished title.

#13 Jason G

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 03:20 AM

We are, of course, going with the 'assumption' the medal was stolen. It's certainly possible it ended up in a dumpster, and was fished out, or some other such case.

I, too, am glad it was saved.

I don't think there will be a case, or if charges are filed, they'll be dropped due to lack of evidence. The sad part is, that I bet this disappears back into some gummint vault, never to be seen by the public again.

#14 Darrell

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 05:47 AM

A couple of things:

a. It appears the ring attachment that connects to the neck ribbon is broke, but that wasn't mentioned in the sale (maybe that was the "defect"?).

b. If the medal was defective, why is the case still with the medal? Wouldn't they just throw out the defect and re-use it?

I suppose they are made in sets .. who knows?

Edited by Darrell, 06 April 2007 - 05:48 AM.


#15 Kadet

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 10:52 AM

...put it this way. If the actions resulting in that medal had involved almost dying in outerspace. YES I would be upset that some yo yo was flogging a version of it on Ebay. IMO Lovell has more of a right to complain about it being sold than some collector does about not being able to own it. I'm also not too broken up over the person "trying to make a buck". The medal was stolen property. It was probably put on a shelf and an employee in the office said what the heck and walked out with it...but it is still stolen property. They never had a right to own it in the first place let alone profit from it...

#16 Mark M

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 03:22 PM

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