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Where have all the Artifacts Gone?

Jul 26, 2012|

Chris Faraone of the Boston Phoenix joined Michele to discuss his story on the disappearence of many artifacts from the State House in Boston and when asked where they could be the answer is in the basement. Where do you think these artifacts have gone?

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Just in this week's Boston Phoenix. I had yet another scary thing covering cried for twenty years. So this fabulous story in the Phoenix I -- around. Titled how the statehouses cultural charges have vanished piece by piece. I said to myself not that explains it because of the parking we like the figure out. Who drove out of the building. With a painting of John Adams and that's Chris for oh it was able to make off with a giant piece of stained glass. Welcome to the Michelle McPhee show this story is fantastic. Thank grabbed me on. Well all the history in the story is great in -- I love this team. Where governor Sam Adams and prominent PT poverty -- they've laid down a cornerstone for the new Beacon -- state house July -- 1795. Three years later on a frigid January morning legislative moved into -- -- home. The total cost of the project in visited by the cracks me up Chris -- if you think about the big gate keeping about Canada T projects highway projects. The total cost of the project why doesn't every -- S. 133333. Dollars and 33 cents attributes the original thirteen. Colonies which of course tonight include the copper roof there via a pound for years later. Can you imagine staying to a budget in the state of Massachusetts and 79 to back a budget that precise no -- Yeah it's it's W I mean it didn't -- that that whole the whole scene and everything was really ceremony at. The business sacred -- of course which as I speak about the piece that was carried. From the old state house wrapped in an American flag. Into the new state house it would have what I really trying to establish -- -- You'll win a major project this was what abuse in a beautiful place to hang art and and show massachusetts' history the building was intended to be. And this is just fantastic the idea -- that. You know governor Tim -- -- -- literally pounding that copper himself we -- to get the governor to sign Melissa Bell. We did talk about that on another. We certainly well but it -- don't go to the idea that there are so many as your piece points out. The cultural treasures that belong to the taxpayers of Massachusetts. Have vanished more than a dozen oil paintings your report. Notables such as founding father John Adams an -- -- house architects. Child's. Both -- -- -- and documents letters from -- the Washington did John Hancock. A box made from the originally USS constitution -- in American arrowhead the marble bust -- reverend Charles rocks. I mean there's so much stuff that's mixing in -- on this act this very big deal to put Jill Biden this is the BFD. Yeah I mean you know this is in the first thing I'd say is although the other governor's office kind of treated it as it's as if I was. Trying to prove that Deval Patrick at most the stuff in his garage and built in. This is not a -- piece you know most of this is kind of institutional failures and neglect over the past couple hundred years. If anything using green -- who takes care of the stop at the -- -- now is doing the best job anybody's ever done but it doesn't change the fact that you know. Especially since they started to -- you know documented in the early twentieth century. Just countless things have gone missing in its really -- -- this being glad that you referred to as one of the most egregious examples. In 1970. It was decided that the stain glass ceiling in the House of Representatives which was -- think about fifty feet by thirty feet. That that it didn't provide enough light so it was removed from. And you know with this is like a -- -- masterpiece and it was until 1987 that people realize that it just been in of people would take it home piece by piece I think he could could -- it was inside job. You I think we could suggest it's an inside job and -- things I mean honestly the king Charles charter and it's wax seal guy and the first stage of big guy and. Those were of course you know those -- found. What -- it really shows the vulnerability you know in 1984. With the -- over the basics smashing grab in the archives basement in the basement archives. Of the state house which of course the archives are now in Dorchester but at the time. I know somebody -- at 355. Year old charter. Rather masters with big companies so it's kind of it's it's really amazing and you know the same with the cut the secret Todd has been stolen twice once in 33 wants to 68. Of course you know the stories really though about the pieces that never came back and that. Quite frankly we have no idea where they are. Having you know -- and I love it anymore -- -- -- -- you quote a book yet the state -- Boston once freely displayed revolutionary and civil war weapons and coins and signed documents from the pounding and amassed a colony along its corridors. But so many things have been stolen now. Stock and that it did. Text is Massachusetts and all the visitors. Who'll go to the state house have been robbed of the opportunity to see how this -- that. How the founding fathers created this thing we have called independence these are all artifacts that belong to -- -- Chris driver to start therapy has backed. Where a Big Dig contractor. Named Paul Dini stole the food -- statues and jot it down turn out of that yet. He's these blue dog statutes now that the tag he -- Ukraine to steal a you. And that because he had to wait to hire trained to bring them back when -- demand in the back. If you steal. I can't artifacts that would gifted to Boston by the country of China. That raced feed and the archway into Chinatown. You really have to brag about the two million dollar house you built entirely of you know I use my air quotes Big -- surplus. Surplus AKA stolen items. And you Decker read it with a stolen food dog statutes. In you not locked up I mean is just a license to steal. All of Boston's artifacts in it one step is missing like priceless. Paintings more than a dozen price of oil paintings. I -- today I about the state house in which an increase suggested that's why secretary Steve O'Donnell won't let The Herald look at -- you logs. That I mean I think it unfortunately a lot of disposal would come down a budget. You know like is that it's not it got to -- other than that you know I know lot of people -- look at it for him but this is we have one of most you know. Profoundly people histories of any state in in the union. Cut line somebody's hacked I can't I'm not gonna -- -- I -- other private money for actually you know read we've you know bringing a lot of these pieces of -- back to life in when he disappeared the closets when I'm told is. That's what a lot of them. Why -- -- -- its median -- closets in -- in people's homes I mean we know what happened Chris for our new. Remembered James Michael Curley desk the famous -- story. -- -- -- -- -- -- Curley desk is typically one other thing that's set me up here you know and. But can't by the way Chris -- -- image try to sell a book proposal based on this. I will say you know the one of the most exciting pieces is that I found something. Yeah I found I found the -- Early education reformer told Brooks. Which is actually scope of like I was pretty payment to name -- Thomas Crawford. In 1842. And the last documentation make it -- so much solace in the -- -- was about nine years ago. Chances -- didn't disappear and so maybe this seventies though. That's just me guessing but I it it turns out that candidates at the Los Angeles county museum of art and it. And and I -- this street is more questions that it is crisper on who wrote this great piece in the Boston Phoenix. About how all of our priceless art has been vanishing piece by piece from the estate house. Chris all sides so some note this. His bus. That was me. And Massachusetts by a noted Massachusetts. Glad. It was actually Thomas Crawford was from New York City he actually did it in Rome. He was a great admirer of told Brooks who was an early education reformer. Back in the 1830s here and Massachusetts and actually the Harvard earlier today digging up the letters that the -- wrote. Through this subject just kinda. And -- I'm ahead of the investigators as far as you know making sure that this is indeed the same one that is currently in Los Angeles and the golf still to be journalistic cliche. Say that it appears to be the same one but I'll tell you that on the air that I'm I'm 99% sure. Now do you find this in a museum in LA. To give me how the hell did a piece of arguably priceless art make its way from the Massachusetts State House to be anti museum LA. Well actually you know it it got it would it's in the tens of thousands of dollars her I don't think it's priceless like some of these in other things -- notable for sure and you know and I'll explain that -- It's all relative to that. Exactly progress so you know it's it's didn't priceless in the sense that it it's it's in knows the value is inextricably. Tied to the Statehouse. That I mean I didn't -- any belongs to us and as part of our history our rich history yet the country was created right here. I mean all state house by the harbor when that went down in governor Sam Adams and already laid the cornerstone for our newbie can help building. This really the birth place of freedom. In the exhibit these and these artifacts from that time I -- -- -- dishing -- I would argue that the -- priceless. So so so this one -- I've traced it back to an auction and 1990s. -- It -- auction house. Down you know let's let's let's remember that you know 1992. Databases and -- are registries were different. There is no I don't think there's any fault on the side of auctioneers -- the buyer because. Massachusetts has never had the kind of budget to have people that would actually you know are actually actively looking or registering these things and our registries. So mean and basically it was bought. By a benefactor of that -- multiple Los Angeles county museum of art and it was donated their and the year after 1993 and I believe it's been their sense. And opposed by Chris -- Seltzer a lawmaker had a very very close relationship with notorious art thief Myles Connor. You asking me which which who did yes well but a lot of things I heard around the building. But not in this story as far as. I think we can imagine who had a pretty good relationship I would say it. Is -- is Whitey Bulger and John Connolly put that way. Yes I -- we we will say that -- also I heard that his father who was a Milton police -- this may or may not be true it was a kind of a regular around the building. As far as they don't want that's. My -- father was a Milton police -- that's correct. Right so -- away as far as who took it. You know the one of the theories floated -- from a few people is that you know. Michael Conley was secretary of the state 1984. Was running it in that year was running against John Kerry and I believe three others in the democratic primary. -- for US senate. And it field a lot of people believe that one of his opponents. Stole it out of the archives to make them look bad because he -- look bad it was it was kind of embarrassing from what I hear. I mean this is hugely embarrassing Chris from -- but it is why it's such a great book I mean this idea that you know the doesn't paintings. Just moved out of the state house you know priceless pieces of artifacts -- history. And now who tracks down a piece of the -- Not the FBI. Not -- -- and please know reporter Chris Ferraro from the Boston Phoenix tracks it down and went critical missing. While we don't know -- we do know that it was sold in 1990 Q I mean I'm sorry Chris for -- -- suggesting that anybody is stockpiling art. At their homes the space that we know that there -- a law makers get busy. What with dad you know state house aides on the Statehouse floor in the middle of the night. -- mark who's who what's is name -- echoed from Braintree. Ideally people aren't in exactly why. This State's refusal to give -- the parking -- is relevant when that's in the driving knotted it at the arc but somebody has pressed her on somebody it's stealing -- In the most likely suspects -- the ones that are had access to the building around the clock with not a lot of oversight if you will. And as for those you know -- who over the years have. May be taken things you know retire legislators or whoever I'm. I'm sure that this article when it went and pickets out. That's some of those things will be moved into the closet. For the next you know decade or so or maybe into the basement. This is disgusting if you read Chris her own story it's in the Boston Phoenix sector up on my FaceBook page Michelle went -- and -- PH. EEI mean Chris isn't it amazing. How a piece is a -- think. Tomorrow if you if we did -- Statehouse. Guidebook to war -- using -- it's printed nine times every that I dropped me -- Eagle the last printing of the state house guidebook. I was -- -- I believe in 31. So they don't started in 1909. Maybe so it that was something that wasn't essentially an official manifest the ball was in there. But it was the closest that we had and what. It actually official manifest anywhere about their networks that are very we have. 1987. The mass. Masses of our commission did. Do the first ever you know full roundup. But when doing in doing that they discover that at least thirteen pieces had gone missing from the sensitivities. I've been trying to get that was from the state they have for some reason not. Are shocking they won't cooperating giving the a list of missing artwork -- -- you've got any -- is on May be one of the lawmakers. And you incidentally took a photo up there are -- now home. And it just haven't matched the list of thirteen -- and missing pieces. Yes so you know who knows I don't know I don't even know if he kind of bothered me a little but you know they did about openly talked me a bit and the united. Did you or did a lot of the answers were in you know history books and speaking with people. Who worked in the archives over the years. One thing also stations and you know you're a big platform here is that. And especially -- veterans listening you know that they're there are hundreds of civil war Spanish American war battle for blacks. In this state house. There allegedly stored underneath it in the basement in. Oh in the they say that it's. You know whether proved fireproof it's better facility they won't tell me exactly where it is I don't think they're essentially lying to me. On -- an outrage -- on but that it appears it could. -- pressing you guys do great work this is lead at that but the idea you are asking. Four items to access to where -- I don't have belonged not to Deval Patrick they belong to the people of Massachusetts they belong to the veterans they are part of what. Makes Massachusetts Massachusetts. That the idea being. He did these creations in the legislature and in the governor's office could do now I accepts. Artifacts belong to us from the civil war battle flag that we should be able to fly now well Chris Christie argument they get half then somebody. All I don't know if not I mean it -- it was an iMac and I hear it's I totally agree with you but you know a lot of these unfortunately -- -- rare form you know that. They were in bad shape when they were hanging in the all flags. And they were taken out and around 87 in the mid eighties and they. Our -- like they do it in museums these things at. Talking about small items that. Of little significance these very significant artifacts that belong to the people of Massachusetts. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- I was you know I. When you when you look at what. People went through to bring those -- back to the state house in 1865. Governor Andrew. Who of course is portrait hangs over Deval Patrick that's. With our governor's desk it. And now it does it does now it -- now until it vanishes too old idea that half dozen oil paintings and it mysteriously. Finished. Yes did these veterans of this. Wars opened told ended you know withdraw our of the civil war particular com. And you know brought their flag back and there's a lot of blood on those blacks literally -- And I -- -- civil war are a lot. Battle flags bloodstained civil war battle flags but big Steve won't tell -- -- where they are crisper. Well they say they're in the basement mum and today is that yes so you know they used to be displayed if -- go to the state out. There are a couple of we could call them facsimile of you know some of the more. And -- more stories flax. So YouTube you can see at the big you know big image of of a few of them put their lives literally are hundreds. That have been you know brought the state has over the years. Well Chris for on this piece is absolutely riveting it's in this week's Boston Phoenix. I mean yeah I had this should really raise alarm bells with every single person and and you know we have money -- for all of these -- are looking get her daughter a lot of couldn't figure job but we don't have money to -- higher. Legitimate security staff -- -- Timorese should be overseeing these artifacts. And yet the -- of course is the lead investigator for the Isabel is to a garden exam but somebody in place. To be to be guarding and watching all of these priceless artifacts and yes some of them you can put a price tag on but I would argue that. Bloodstained civil war battle flag is a priceless piece of our history. And an -- -- also for free you mean it's it's generally been the media the fourth state that's that's kept this in check in in the fifties I mentioned in my story. Two reporters from the Boston Herald traveler at the time it was called of course. Actually went in their lifted. In broad daylight lifted 23000 dollar for the documents and maps and 56. And of course return them and you know put it splash in the paper the next day. But it is it seems that you know the budget never been there for that ms. cheap Massachusetts and the media's got to pick up the slack and I'm happy to do so. Okay well Chris if you did a great job in the speeds are really hoping it booked a lot of -- -- out -- -- -- -- -- -- -- because this is. There's absolutely a -- here there's a lot of information I think people have the right to know what is happening to. Aren't the belongs to us. I agree and it could cripple you found what these -- is a great story I urge you should -- Kara frank chairman of the documentary here about how you fine piece by piece. He's a surprise if we found one of these missing oil paintings wrapped up in a sheet. In the Statehouse parking garage because we don't nobody can monitor I'm program open. While good job Chris great story I think we're not quite as prepared and I continue to talk about it. And went away -- heavy line periodically to see if you've recover a more are missing -- Thanks Chris for around happy shouted -- we are and fixated -- -- 6572666868. OK so you don't -- parking at the state house. This can't -- now will air this simple war -- bloodstained. Battle flags are. -- problem with the idea that this state house and its artifacts. Have been plundered. Pilfered. -- sweet -- whenever anything Staal. Who are the most likely suspects I ask you while 6172666860.