[meteorite-list] NPA, Chicago Tribune April 23, 2003; Park Forest, Winslow Dr.
From: MARK BOSTICK <thebigcollector_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon Jul 19 14:32:46 2004
Paper: Chicago Tribune
City: Chicago, Illinoise
Date: April 23, 2003
By Joseph Sjostrom Tribune staff reporter
A meteorite that crashed through the atmosphere to land on a Park Forest
street and bounce into a yard on Winslow Drive was sold by the homeowner to
an Arizona dealer, but is coming back to the village after police demanded
The 116-gram meteorite, carved from one that weighed 180 grams, is being
relinquished by Michael Farmer of Tucson, a globe-trotting meteorite dealer,
who says he resented the implication of police that the rock was stolen.
"It would be worth fighting over, but I don't have time for that," Farmer
said Tuesday. "I'm leaving for South America tomorrow morning. I'm going to
Africa next week."
Police say it was all a big misunderstanding. Farmer does not expect to be
reimbursed, and police say there are no plans to offer him compensation. The
dealer wouldn't disclose what he paid, but said on average he spent $5 to
$12 per gram for meteorites that fell on Park Forest and other south suburbs
on March 27.
It's not clear exactly what the village plans to do with the meteorite.
Village Manager Janet Muchnik said the hope was it would be displayed with
the 1.2-pound meteorite the village sold last week to a consortium of
institutions including Chicago's Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium and the
University of Chicago. The price for the rock that punched a hole in the
village fire station was $5,448, or $10 a gram.
The saga began when a meteor described as "the size of a Volkswagen" entered
Earth's atmosphere in a spectacular display of light and sound over the
south suburbs. It broke into thousands of smaller pieces and rained onto
streets and yards in Park Forest, Matteson and Olympia Fields with at least
five pieces crashing through roofs of four homes and the Park Forest fire
Farmer, who has made a living buying and selling meteorites for the last
seven years, was on an airplane to Chicago the next day, and spent the next
two weeks buying pieces of the meteorite from residents who found them
outside and inside their homes.
Farmer said he spent about $40,000, paying premium prices in some cases
because that's what finders demanded and because his customers will pay more
for a meteorite with a documented story behind it.
"They were worth more money because some of them hit houses, some of them
hit cars," he said, and because the meteorite's entry to Earth was such a
widely witnessed and reported event.
Several days after returning home, Farmer said he received a phone call from
Capt. Francis DioGuardi of the Park Forest police who contended Farmer had
bought a stolen meteorite. Farmer said DioGuardi didn't threaten specific
civil or criminal action but implied the consequences would be severe if he
kept the rock.
"He said, `We're treating this as stolen property' and `We're ready to take
this to the next step,'" Farmer said.
The dealer bought the rock from a resident who found it and several others
on his property on Winslow Drive in Park Forest and turned them over to
police--as did many other finders--for temporary safekeeping. The resident
retrieved it from the police and sold it, Farmer said.
Farmer said DioGuardi told him the rock rightfully belonged to the village
because it had landed on the street before bouncing onto the homeowner's
property, where it hit the man's house and damaged the siding.
DioGuardi said Tuesday that no threats of legal action were made or implied
and no accusations of trafficking in stolen goods were made against Farmer.
He also said police recovered the rock from the street and inadvertently
gave it to the Winslow Avenue homeowner, who sold it to Farmer. The dealer
said police agreed to let him cut the rock into two pieces of 116 grams and
64 grams, polish the cut side on the larger one and return that one to Park
Forest. He said he expects to ship the rock in several days.
"I'm happy to let the village have it," he said.
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Received on Mon 19 Jul 2004 02:32:34 PM PDT