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Auction house stops sale of parts of Clemente's plane

Old 06-17-05, 09:30 PM
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Auction house stops sale of parts of Clemente's plane

Auction house stops sale of parts of Clemente's plane

Friday, June 17, 2005


NEW YORK - Debris from the plane crash that killed Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was pulled from a memorabilia auction after his family threatened a lawsuit.

Seaford, N.Y.-based Lelands.com announced Friday it was pulling two items - a light metal piece of the airplane and a gray steel propeller - from the collection of four dozen Clemente mementos.

Clemente died Dec. 31, 1972, when the DC-7 he was on crashed after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The plane was headed to Nicaragua with supplies for earthquake victims.

Clemente's family two weeks ago said it was considering legal action to stop the auction house from selling the airplane parts. Roberto Clemente Jr. said in a statement then that the family "will not tolerate anyone trying to benefit from my father's passing."

Lelands.com plans to return the light metal piece, measuring 19 inches by 14 inches at its largest point, to the collector who consigned the item into the auction. The propeller will be donated to the Puerto Rico Sports Museum.

"Just like hundreds of historical items that are on display in museums throughout the world or are sold privately or in auctions every day, these two items are of great historical significance," Lelands.com founder Josh Evans said in a statement Friday. "We believe that they help completely tell the story of Roberto Clemente, his philanthropy and the price he paid to help people in need. We believe that they should be on display to honor his legacy.

"On the other hand, the wishes of the Clemente family need to be respected and once we found out that they objected to the sale, we realized that the right thing to do was to remove the items from the auction," Evans said.

Other items in the auction, which ends June 24, include a glove Clemente used in a game in the 1960s; an autographed photo of his 3,000th, and final, career hit; an autographed rookie baseball card; and a photograph of Clemente getting a haircut from his hometown barber.

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