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Appraisals Show History Museum Drastically Overpaid For Property

(via Wikimedia Commons)

An appraisal released on Tuesday shows that the Missouri History Museum paid ex-Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. over three times market rate for property Bosley sold the museum in 2006.

The sale which was only recently discovered was the catalyst behind a series of events which led to the resignation of Museum President Bob Archibald.

Documents released by the Zoo Museum District show that appraisals by the Hottle Appraisal Company in 2006 value the property at 5863 Delmar Boulevard at only $260,000.

The property consisted of a vacant restaurant and land.  Despite the appraisal, Archibald ultimately paid Bosley $875,000 for the property. Bosley himself had only recently stepped down from the museum’s board of trustees.

ZMD Commissioner Charlie Valier says the evidence indicates either gross negligence by the trustees, or possible criminal activity.

“The community really has to rethink whether the private non-profit corporation of the Missouri Historical Society and its trustees should be running an institution that is funded by taxpayer money,” says Valier.

A spokesperson for the museum steps have already been taken to prevent similar problems in the future, and that the museum is committed to being a good steward of taxpayer money.

Even though Archibald has stepped down as museum president the issue which lead to his departure remains under investigation by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney.  The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is also considering public hearings.

The purpose of the purchase was to house the planned Center for Community Stories.

In a statement released from the museum on Tuesday the trustees claim, “The budget and expenditure approval was made against privately raised philanthropic contributions to the Missouri History Museum. No tax dollars were committed, expended or vouchered to the History Museum Subdistrict.”

A current appraisal of the property is valued at $215,000 and estimates the cost for environmental cleanup at about $300,000.

Commissioner Valier says the documents counter previous claims by Archibald and museum trustees that the sale was based on market comparables.

“And so that leads you to two conclusions,” says Valier. “One, that whoever negotiated it, and I believe that was Archibald, was negligent in doing so.  Or, that he had ulterior motives which we don’t know about.”

Archibald stepped down as president in December and is currently residing in Michigan.  On his way out he received a retirement payout of roughly $580,000, as well as a six-month consultancy contract for $270,000.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter: @aallington