Skip to comments.Historic documents may be burned if Harvard does not cough up cash
Posted on 10/17/2013 5:35:18 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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“’Ill roast and burn them,’ an angry McDonald said Tuesday, saying Harvard offered an ‘insulting’ $7,500 for a collection that includes Greeners 1870 Harvard diploma and was appraised at $65,000.”
No matter for how much they're appraised, they're worth precisely what someone is willing to pay for them.
Nonetheless, there is some reason to wonder whether he's telling the truth. From the same article:
“A Harvard spokesman declined to comment on the ultimatum, but a university source familiar with the negotiation says it offered McDonald ‘significantly more’ than $7,500.”
In any event, if he feels Harvard has made an insufficient offer, he's free to sell them to whomever he wants.
The threat to burn the documents is irrational. If he can get a higher bidder, then he can take that amount and thumb his nose at Harvard, if he so desires. If no one offers more than Harvard did, then he (and his appraiser) were mistaken in the true value of the documents in the first place.
This, though, is egregious bullshit to emotionalize the issue:
“McDonald, an African American whose own education ended at Calumet High School, says he just wants a fair price for whats left of the collection ‘so my 9-year-old twins can have the chance I didnt and go to college if they want to.’
If Mr. McDonald doesn't make much money, there are many programs that will provide financial aid to his children. If they're relatively-average, but college-ready kids when they graduate high school, they may not be able to afford toney private universities that will take them, but they will likely be able to afford, at little or no expense, community college and then state university.
If they're much brighter than average, there will be public and private schools that will offer them affordable scholarship packages.
If they're really, really smart, they will have offers to go to school for free.
If, for example, his kids can get accepted to Harvard (no mean feat), unless he's making more than $65K per year, they're going free. And frankly, that's pretty much the case at most of the elite colleges and universities in the United States. If you can manage to be admitted, and your household income is pretty much right around the median income for families, you're going to go free or nearly so.
At Harvard, financial aid doesn't completely phase out until your family has family income of nearly $250K per year, or you have a bunch of financial assets outside your retirement accounts.
Threatening to burn them was wrong. I’m only saying they should be sold to the highest bidder, and offers from Harvard should be rejected (even if they’re the highest) because they insulted him with their offer.
I made no further claims than that, other than FReepers should stop pretending they’re John McQueeg by badmouthing other FReepers.
If you’re looking for bullshit, it’s right there in Harvard’s low-ball offer. I don’t give a rat’s patootie about Harvard’s financial aid policies.
I had already read that article and concluded the man is trying to extort money from Harvard and is playing the race victim card.
If the alleged appraised value of the papers is really valid he’d have no problem getting a legitimate auction house to take them or another university to buy them. OTOH if the ‘appraisal’ is of dubious validity no wonder he has to resort to extortion.
Big deal, Louis Henry Gates (the one who mouthed off to the Cambridge Police and got arrested) is excited about the papers. If the papers are that valuable Christies would be knocking his door down. Harvard is not stupid. If the papers were more than old grocery lists and it filled a need in their museums they’d offer to pay more.
But if you want to believe that a guy from Chicago who buys up abandoned houses is going to burn some papers rather than auctioning them for $60,000 - go right ahead.
Why you are defending Harvard? Harvard almost assuredly low balled him because he is an old black guy and they thought they could get away with it.
Chicago. It’s the Chicago Way.
You are absolutely right. Liberals do think that way.
In fairness, Harvard provides financial aid to almost 70% of undergraduates. Of those undergraduates, the median payment for tuition, room and board, books, and travel by families receiving financial aid is a little less than $15,000 per year. Median financial aid from Harvard is currently about $45K per year.
I said the papers sound like they have historic value
You believe that because it fits your view of Harvard but there is no evidence that is what happened. In fact Harvard disputes the story of the offer and appraisal.
This man is a junk dealer. He doesn't own the house in which the papers were found. He was hired to clean out the house, found the trunk, took the papers he thought might have value and left the rest of the documents and the trunk behind. You might say he stole the documents - although I don't know what his contract is with the owner of the junk company or the owner of the house.
Harvard made an offer - according to them significantly higher - which is more than Howard University did where Greener worked for a while. South Carolina did cough up some money where Greener worked before his job ended there too. Why didn't they buy the rest of the papers? Probably because they aren't worth $75,000 as claimed by the victim junk man. BTW Greener's children from his marriage didn't speak to him nor did the children he had with his mistress. Some of them are alive but apparently have little interest in the papers.
I believe the value is correct, if it is the genuine artifact of a Diploma of the first black grad of Harvard. I believe it will fetch a lot more than the $65K. As for threatening to burn it, well, I don’t think he was going to do it, and I don’t think he was trying to play “race victim.” He was really pissed off about the offer from Harvard. I would be too. I may have even threatened to burn it, just to piss them off.
I already said that, but go ahead, jump on my, I don’t care. No biggie. I just don’t like the way you were talking about other FReepers. I’m a little sensitive about that, these past couple days. I’ll get over it.
Your view that Harvard's offer is low-ball is based on two assumptions:
1. That Mr. McDonald is telling the whole truth and that Harvard will pay no more than $7500. From the article, Harvard is disputing that.
2. That the documents are actually worth more than whatever Harvard actually offered.
From my own perspective, both assumptions are unproven.
When I see Mr. McDonald threatening to burn them rather than to sell them to Harvard, even if their low offer is the highest bidder, it makes me think, he's not a trustworthy source. It makes me think that either he's irrational, or he's playing a con.
Or possibly both.
Harvard's a big place. So is Yale. I appreciate how you feel, but the stereotypes and generalizations are a little harder when one gets a little closer to take a look.
I think we’re all a little sensitive the past few days.
I get discouraged to see FReepers take at face value what is in the Chicago Sun Times. Harvard disputes what this man says about the appraisal and the offer. A Chicago junk man’s word is gospel, why? Because he’s black?
I also get sensitive about bashing other people’s schools. Many of us may have attended Harvard or have children there. Other than feeding class envy it accomplishes little and diminishes the site.
But you’re right - it’s hard not to be sensitive these past few days.
If it were me, and if I got a ridiculous low-ball offer (you dispute all the "ifs" so I don't know why I bother to finish this sentence), I'd tell them to go to Hell and they can't have the artifact at any price. I'd rather burn it. End of line.
Have a nice day.
Well, if it were me, and I knew I was being low-balled, I'd just laugh. Then, we'd proceed from there.
If I didn't get satisfaction, I'd look for other bidders. Frankly, I'd be doing that, anyway. If I got a higher bid, and the low-ball bidder wanted to top the higher bid, all things being equal, I'd take it.
I'm certainly not going to cut off my nose to spite my face.
I've owned my own businesses for nearly 30 years. If I got mad and stormed off, refusing to do business with the other party, every time someone gave me a low offer on the value of what I was trying to sell, I'd be mighty poor.
This guy, apparently, is trying to play the angles. And what I see is an attempt to get the highest actual bidder to go higher through bad publicity. Here are the clues:
“Several museums and Harvard University itself expressed a keen interest in the historically significant 140-year-old Greener documents.”
Okay, there are at least a handful of institutions interested in the stuff. One institution bought the part they thought was particularly valuable, and left the rest.
But then the article says:
“McDonald who recently sold just two of the documents for $52,000 to the University of South Carolina, where Greener also studied and taught is threatening to torch the rest unless Harvard offers him more cash.”
He's not saying he's going to torch the stuff if no one else offers more than Harvard has offered, but rather he's going to torch the stuff if HARVARD doesn't offer more than Harvard has offered.
That strongly suggests to me that Harvard has made the highest offer for the material that remains. Because, if someone else from the other institutions had offered more money than Harvard, I'm not sure this article would have ever even been written.
And lo and behold, here's an excerpt from an article on the fellow from 2012:
"Rufus McDonald says he's talked to plenty of people, including archivists and other experts, about the value of what he's found, but he's been disappointed so far in their offers. He says he can't afford to donate the documents, so he's looking for a buyer with deep pockets."
I guess that's just too damned bad for Mr. McDonald. That's how markets work - interested buyers make their offers, the seller gets to choose the offer that is most appealing to him. If none are sufficiently appealing, and no one is willing to up their price, well, then, there's just not going to be a sale.
I'll go back to what I originally said - it doesn't matter at what value your stuff is appraised. It's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
I hope Harvard withdraws their offer and tells Mr. McDonald to shove it where the sun doesn't shine. He's already made over $50K on something that almost literally fell into his lap. There are offers on the table from several other institutions for more of the material, but their offers don't suit him. So, he tries to embarrass the likely highest bidder into going higher, threatening to burn the docs because no one will pay him the amount he wants. Looks like a common grifter to me.
So what if the picker is a dumpster diver. He saved these historic items from the landfill! Harvard should kiss his ring for that alone.
I deal a little bit in documents, old books, etc. I know the mind set of institutional buyers and collectors. Advanced collectors and universities can be real cheapskates. They think they know everything and don’t want to pay anything. Institutions most often want a donation no matter how rich they are.
So it doesn’t surprise me at all Harvard is trying to pull a fast one here.
Rufus McDonald were white, you'd already know his name, and he'd be on the path to pushing George Zimmerman aside as the most hated man in America. But because he is black, you probably have never heard of him, unless you live in Chicago... Hidden in a dusty trunk in an abandoned and looted Englewood home, the papers of Harvard's first black graduate, Richard T. Greener, had long been thought lost to history... McDonald says the irreplaceable collection could go up in flames... is threatening to torch the rest unless Harvard offers him more cash.