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Kirby Family Friend Claims Kirby Museum Stole Photocopied Art

Here’s a pretty good sign Jack Kirby was one of the greatest comic book artists who ever lived, if not the greatest: The museum that bears his name and a historian who was also a family friend of the Kirbys are in a public spat over photocopies of his pencil work. Not the originals (many of which are more than likely lost). Photocopies.

Here’s the long and short of it: Historian and illustrator Greg Theakston says he gave The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center the 3,000-plus copies as a loan, not as a donation. He has asked for it back. The museum isn’t giving it back, saying Theakston provided the art as a donation. So Theakston said he plans to file a stolen goods report with the Hoboken, N.J. police.

Here’s Theakston’s initial Facebook post about the disagreement (which he called a press release):

The museum’s board of trustees responded with this post in which they state, “We are confident the Museum has done no wrong.” It also says:

Upon receipt of the first portion of his donation, we provided Greg with a gift acknowledgment letter. He declined our offer of same for subsequent portions. In written correspondence after the transaction occurred, Greg described the intent of his gift, where he used the word ‘donation’ a number of times and specifically named his set of photocopies as being among the items that he donated; there is no mention of any part of the donation being a loan, or that any of it is to be returned to him upon request.

So we were dismayed when the Museum was contacted by Mr. Theakston asking for the return of his property, now reclassified by him as a loan.

In another Facebook post, Theakston reasserted that the art was a loan for the purposes of the museum’s management scanning the pages. He argues that the museum is required by law to document donations, and has no such documentation.

He added this in a response to a comment:

I told [Treasurer Randolph Hoppe] that I would contribute all of my Kirby research to the museum when a real building housed it. In the meantime, I donated a box of Kirby-related items and got paperwork on the whole thing. That part was very professional.

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