Saturday, 17 September 2016

I Have Heard Of Governments Suing For Unpaid Taxes,

and sometimes physical objects,

but this is the first time I have heard of a government suing for a lighthouse lens, back to the 1880s, these lenses look kind of like large, glass beehives and can weigh hundreds of pounds, named for their inventor, physicist and engineer Augustin-Jean Fresnel, these lenses were part of a revolutionised lighthouse technology that allowed ships farther out at sea to get advance warning of hazardous conditions, Eileen Kinsella writes for artnetNews, however, Fresnel lenses were also delicate and many were lost or destroyed when the U. S. Coast Guard decommissioned and updated its lighthouses during the 20th century to make way for more advanced automated systems, lenses just weren’t valued back then like they are today, Coast Guard curator Arlyn Danielson tells Robert Snell for the Detroit News, ‘they are pieces of art’, Keith Thompson, who runs the non profit making Portland lighthouse, comments about the lenses, ‘in a crate, destroyed, thrown overboard—we didn’t know’, but some lenses were lucky and fell into the hands of private collectors, who at their own expense and time looked after these what were considered worthless pieces of glass, but then money reared it’s ugly head, it appears each lenses could be worth $600,000 each, and according to a complaint filed by the Justice Department on Coast Guard’s behalf, they may have resurfaced in the hands of a maritime antiques collection owned by a man named Steven Gronow, the two lenses in question were the ones originally installed in the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in Portland, Maine, and the Belle Isle Lighthouse on Michigan’s Detroit River,

Gronow operates a private collection called the Maritime Exchange Museum, which holds and leases out objects and artefacts to museums, while he refuses to confirm or deny whether he does own the two lenses in question, Gronow argues the government is just trying to bully a preservationist now that they know how valuable Fresnel lenses can be, the Associate Press reports, ‘it’s interesting now that because someone had the forethought to care for the lenses all these years — instead of smashing them to bits — that the government is coming out of the shadows and demanding they be returned without compensation,’ Gronow tells Snell, ‘it’s just the government’s bully pulpit’, the lawsuit is ongoing.

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