TRAGEDY AT THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MAGICIANS

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/07/06 09:46 AM

Society of American Magicians- December 7,. 2006

TRAGEDY AT THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MAGICIANS
HALL OF FAME AND MAGIC MUSEUM

Tragedy has befallen on The Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum in Hollywood, California. In December 2004, an electrical transformer located in a nearby underground vault owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) malfunctioned and caused fire and smoke to be emitted. The smoke and fire contained hazardous substances, which migrated into and contaminated our Museum.

The contamination has closed our Museum! There is no access, except by trained personnel in hazmat suits. We cannot have access to or remove any of our artifacts, memorabilia or records. The LADWP has not accepted responsibility for the contamination and the cost to clean the Museum. We are preparing to file suit to recover our damages.

The initial cost of litigation will consume our treasury and we need to immediately raise additional funds to undertake the necessary steps to litigate with the LAWDP to establish its liability.

We are looking for benefactors and others to help us raise the necessary funds to save these valuable, historic magic artifacts which have been accumulated through generous donations of many magicians over the last thirty-five (35) years.

Donations large and small will be greatly appreciated. The SAM Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) corporation and donations are tax deducible to the extent allowed by law.

Your donations may be made payable to SAM Hall of Fame and Magic Museum, Inc. and sent to:

SAM Hall of Fame and Magic Museum
Post Office Box 27610
Los Angeles, California 90027-0610

John Engman, President of Hall of Fame
2617 Whitney Drive
Alhambra, CA 91803
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/07/06 09:50 AM

Isn't this really old news, like a year ago? I guess what they should do is put on a benefit SHOW...???
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Postby Guest » 12/07/06 04:51 PM

If the Museum's contents are contaminated of what value are they?
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Postby Guest » 12/07/06 05:07 PM

Originally posted by Earle Oakes:
If the Museum's contents are contaminated of what value are they?
Very little - if they remain contaminated. The hope is that they may be de-contaminated...
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Postby Guest » 12/07/06 05:32 PM

It isn't old news, it is ongoing news...repeated attempts to rescue the museum's holdings, have been frustrated.

Don't know who "they" might be, but if they do put on a benefit show, that would be fine, in the mean time, I'm sending a donation today and encourage others to do the same.

This has been discussed in other threads, but it does give an appreciation for collections of others, that while others complain of their protectiveness or selective access, are not at the mercy other factors or people.

Also mentioned before, just as volunteers rescued/restored thousands of volumes, otherwise lost, after the Los Angeles Downtown library's fire, there are those of us, who would be happy to wear gloves and masks, to do likewise here.
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Postby Guest » 12/08/06 05:43 AM

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
repeated attempts to rescue the museum's holdings, have been frustrated...
Diego, do you have current info on how exactly such attempts have been frustrated? Some time ago, through John Booth, I offered to try and obtain some pro bono (or at least reasonably priced) legal representation, but was told that the SAM already had counsel. Based on what little I've heard, it sure seems like the LADWP has some liability here. What gives?

Clay
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Postby Guest » 12/08/06 08:18 AM

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
Also mentioned before, just as volunteers rescued/restored thousands of volumes, otherwise lost, after the Los Angeles Downtown library's fire, there are those of us, who would be happy to wear gloves and masks, to do likewise here.
Is the contamination just smoke or is it PCB related? Older transformers can be a risk. (If you notice new transformers they often have a No PCB label on them.)
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Postby Guest » 12/08/06 10:05 AM

All I know is what I've read and a few conversations with those involved with the museum and the local S.A.M. Assembly.

It is more than smoke and water damage, as experienced at the L.A. Library fire, but contamination....that is why just access, has been denied.
The expense of de-contaminating, the holdings is a factor, also having a venue to take the holdings to do the job, is a factor.

Questions should be directed to John Engman and those close to the matter, for correct answers.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/08/06 11:50 AM

It's some type of severe contamination from the fire in the bank above and they are refusing to accept responsibility for the financial aspects of the clean up. No one can go into the SAM museum without protective gear and there are strong questions about whether many of the artifacts can ever be salvaged because of the level of the contamination.
It's a big big mess.
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Postby Guest » 12/08/06 05:11 PM

Folks might be far more inclined to assist with money, skills, expertise, etc if the SAM would publish a detailed document indicating exactly what happened, exactly what kind of shape they anticipate the artifacts are in, their professional advice received on what the chances are of actually being able to rescue the artifacts, and exactly what the artifacts are contaminated with.

Sending money blindly just because it's a fine old organization like the SAM isn't going to guarantee that anything from the collection can be saved.

If it's money they need to sue for damages (even though there may be no hope for the artifacts themselves), then SAM should say that clearly so folks don't think they're sending money to salvage magic's heritage, only to find out they're sending it to fund SAM's court battle for cash restitution.

More facts are needed, and somebody from SAM's executive should be doing the talking.
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Postby Guest » 12/08/06 07:38 PM

Silverking,

You hit the nail on the head with each and every point. Well stated!! I had some of the same questions going through my mind. I too feel that with so many open issues, and no one in a position of authority having stepped forward to answer the tough, no, excuse me, OBVIOUS questions it makes you wonder why.

Ill be curious to see if, and when, ALL your points are answered in DETAIL, and as you stated, by someone in a position to be held accountable for the answers given.
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Postby Guest » 12/09/06 01:58 AM

Exactly what I felt when I saw this. I would be willing to help if indeed the funds would make sure that otherwise lost pieces can be rescued. However, without knowing what condition the artifacts are in and if they indeed can be preserved I do not feel in a position to send cash.
If indeed this is more a matter of getting cash in the SAM treasury than I am sure it will not be hard to find a lawyer in Los Angeles who is dwilling to take the case on a percentage basis (if it has any merits at all).
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Postby Guest » 12/09/06 09:59 AM

Anyone else have a flag raised by this sentence from Clays earlier post? It sure stood out to me!!

Some time ago, through John Booth, I offered to try and obtain some pro bono (or at least reasonably priced) legal representation, but was told that the SAM already had counsel.
They (and who are they anyway?) sure didn't seem to have a problem turning down Clay and his generous offer on the spot. Anyone ever heard of having too much legal representation backing you? Who is their legal counsel, and what are they charging relative to what Clay might have obtained for them? Are they related to someone on the board? For an organization that is so concerned (and should be) about its funds, Id sure think they would thoroughly explore all their options. And maybe they have, but who knows. If they expect people to donate their hard earned money, the least we should expect is for them to allocate and spend it wisely.

Surely some of the S.A.M. officers must read this forum and could put ALL these questions to rest, right? If the answers are honest, and make good common sense, it can only benefit us all and increase donations.
If these simple questions make them defensive, or worse silent, be wary.

Something smells a little funny here and it's not coming from the contaminated magic!!!
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Postby Guest » 12/09/06 01:47 PM

Its certainly reasonable to ask how donated funds will be used. Thats a legitimate concern of any donor. If my earlier post somehow gave the impression that the affairs of the Museum were being managed poorly (or that I thought they were), that was not my intention. The situation with the legal help offer did not really surprise or alarm me, as it was made quite a while ago, when circumstances may have been different from now.

Clay
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Postby Guest » 12/09/06 05:10 PM

Clay,

Good point, and I apologize if I read something into your earlier post that I should not have. I should also not have made it sound like they have, or are mismanaging anything. I think we just want some reasonable questions answered (that havent been to this point) before we are asked to open our wallets. I hope someone from S.A.M. comes forward to clear the air (no pun intended) on all this.

Regards, Mark
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Postby Guest » 12/10/06 01:38 AM

Surely it's not within the bounds of possibility that there is a litigation lawyer in the SAM who would take the case on a no win - no fee basis?

If the LADWP is liable then surely it's not a matter of guilty or not guilty but rather how much?
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