Sunday, September 30, 2007
By NAOMI SNYDER
A face-off in U.S. Bankruptcy Court over two of the most-prized string instruments in music history has legions of country fans on edge, while investors duped by a high-profile donor to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hope to get some of their millions back.
Hanging in the balance are Mother Maybelle Carter's famed 1928 Gibson guitar, which helped provide the foundation of country music, and the 1923 mandolin of Bill Monroe, who is considered the father of bluegrass.
The instruments, or at least the money that the late Robert W. McLean of Murfreesboro used to help the hall of fame acquire them, have become the focal points of this case of victim against victim, apparent suicide and long-shot causes.
On one side are dozens of people hoodwinked out of $40 million by a free-spending McLean, and on the other side sits the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which acquired Mother Maybelle's famed Gibson L-5 guitar and Monroe's Gibson mandolin with some of McLean's cash.
Bob Waldschmidt, the bankruptcy trustee tracing McLean's history, says the law allows him to recover McLean's gifts to the hall of fame on behalf of investors and other creditors.
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