White House curator Clement Conger is not at all happy that he missed out on being the high bidder at Washington's Sloan auction house earlier this month when a Philadelphia antiques collector paid $1,100 for a wine decanter used by presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Conger, whose $4,350 bid was lost in a mixup at Sloan's, did not know at the time the true historic value of the decanter etched with a medallion of the Great Seal and the monogram "M." Sloan's and the winning bidder, Set Momjian, did not know its significance either.
Now that Momjian has established that the chipped decanter, held together by 19 rivets, was created for President Madison in 1816, making it one of the earliest surviving pieces of glassware made for use by a president, Conger has said, "It is my opinion that Momjian should either give us the decanter or sell it to us for what he paid for it. I am not seeking loans; I am seeking gifts to build a strong White House collection."
Momjian, however, responded: "Conger doesn't understand that I'm not one of those rich collectors that likes to buy something for $1,000, have it appraised for $20,000 and take a tax deduction" by giving it away.