Local Auction House Involved in Purchase of Famous Obama Letter - NBC Connecticut

Local Auction House Involved in Purchase of Famous Obama Letter



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    "They talk about me like a dog. That's not in my prepared remarks ... but it's true." With the mid-term elections nearing, bi-partisanship reached a fever pitch. At a Labor Day speech about his $50 billion jobs-creation initiative in Milwaukee, Wisc., Obama had apparently had enough of the right wing attacks.

    When Gary Zimet learned about Jennifer Cline’s handwritten response letter from President Barack Obama, he reached out to see if she was interested in selling it. The letter was incredibly rare as far as presidential documents go.

    It took five or six months for the 28-year-old mom from Michigan to respond, Zimet said, but she accepted and sold the letter for $7,000.

    Now, that rare document belongs to Zimet, of New York-based Moments in Time, and his business partner, Bill Panagopulos, of Stamford-based Alexander Autographs.

    “She drove from Michigan to here and we gave her a certified bank check,” Panagopulos said.

    The four-line letter penned from the sitting president is one of few authentic handwritten Obama letters Panagopulos has seen.

    “I’ve never seen a rarer president,” Panagopulos said.

    Now the letter is up for sale.

    As time goes on, it is becoming more and more rare for handwritten letters from the White House to make it to market, Panagopulos said.

    Word in the industry is that Obama only answers about 10 letters each week. Many are typed and signed with an autopen.

    Those letters are "monetarily worthless," Zimet said. “I have not yet see one typed authentically signed letter from Obama ...  He autopens everything.”

    Panagopulos said this letter is attractive for its “scarcity and content.”

    Cline wrote the letter on Dec. 13, 2009 and told of how she fell on hard times in 2007, lost her job, her health benefits and was diagnosed with skin cancer. But, then things improved.  She and her boyfriend married, he got a new job with good benefits, she received a Pell grant to go back to school and her unemployment benefits were extended.

    "In just a couple of years, we will be in a great spot," said the letter, which you can read in entirety here.

    When the letter was brought to Obama’s attention, he responded, personally in that four-line letter, calling her note “kind and inspiring.” the New York Post reported.

    “I know times are tough, but knowing there are folks out there like you and your husband give me confidence that things will keep getting better,” Obama wrote.

    The money Cline received for the letter will go toward paying off medical bills and toward a house.

    Since the story received a lot of publicity, it would seem that more people with letters from Obama would come forward, but that has not happened, and any that do could be worth a fortune, Panagopulos said.

    “Collectors are going to pay a hefty price,” he said.

    Zimet said he is looking to buy any and all handwritten Obama letters.