Te Papa’s Puffed Up Shirt

There is something still not right about Te Papa’s handling of the black singlet falsely claimed to have been worn by Peter Snell at the Tokyo Olympics. How could you not check before bidding? The museum belatedly checked the material and found it could not have been worn at the Tokyo Games. It had bid $122,500 and won but got out of the deal when it was shown to be a phoney. Later Snell commented he could nor remember giving it away. You can understand why the auctioneer agreed. A. It was embarrassing, given the media attention, and B. If they paying big money for memorabilia an auctioneer would not want to get offside.

Now, Te Papa spokeswoman Kate Camp says the museum is hiring an Australian expert to check how the museum went about the purchase and whether if followed normal procedures. Unknown-60Camp is certain that the normal procedures are adequate and said there is no way that Te Papa has made high bids for other fake exhibits. No way at all, she says. On July 2 the NZ Herald wrote that a colleague of Snell’s at the Tokyo Olympics knew the auctioned singlet was a fake the moment he saw it.

“He  (Magee) says it is made of a nylon or rayon-type fabric, rather than cotton, the fabric in the singlet which Te Papa bought through Cordy’s auction house.

I wonder if any media asked during the run-up how the auction house knew it was the real thing,  To be honest, it is quite funny for people to be fascinated by old clothes. Did Snell keep his shorts? I can see the logic. While visiting Washington DC recently, I went to great lengths to visit the National Museum of American History mainly to see the”Puffy Shirt” used in a famous episode of Seinfeld.  Those pop culture esbibits do bring in the entry fees, even if they don’t mean very much and are an anti-climax when you actually see them.






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One thought on “Te Papa’s Puffed Up Shirt”

  1. My teenage daughter cried with delight when she saw Jane Austen’s handwriting in a notebook in Winchester Cathedral. I had a similar experience when I first saw one of the four extant versions of the 1215 Magna Carta in the British Library.

    I think that where those items are of deep significance to the person, then it really is something special to see them. So even though Peter Snell’s singlet wouldn’t mean a lot to me personally, I can see why other people would very much want to see it, and why it might be worthwhile for our national museum to hold it.

    Even so, clearly something went wrong somewhere with the process.

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