Kirby Museum refutes claim it stole photocopied art

The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center denies the allegation it stole more than 3,000 photocopies of the legendary artist's pencil work, insisting they were donated by illustrator Greg Theakston, not loaned.

"After examining the evidence of the interaction between the two parties, we are confident the Museum has done no wrong," the organization's board of trustees said in a statement posted Monday.

A pop-culture historian and a friend of Jack and Roz Kirby, Theakston announced last week that he intended to file a stolen-goods report against the museum regarding the Xerox archives given to him by the Kirbys. Theakston, maintains he allowed museum trustee Randy Hoppe to borrow those copies with the understanding that "I would want them back someday."

"As we were loading them into his car I underlined in red three times, 'I will be back for these one day. When I return, I don't want to hear you say, 'I thought you gave those to me,'" Theakston wrote on his Facebook page. "Guess what he said when I asked for them back." He contends that Hoppe told him in late June that he'd "get right on it," but then stopped returning his messages.

In a statement posted Monday on the Kirby Museum website, the board said, "We have been pleased with our relationship with Greg Theakston over the years, especially considering the generous donations he made to our physical archives in 2008-2009." However, the museum contends that while Theakston was provided with a gift acknowledgment letter for the first portion of his donation, he declined any for the 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," the statement reads. "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. [...] After examining the evidence of the interaction between the two parties, we are confident the Museum has done no wrong. For Mr. Theakston to accept an acknowledgement letter for his gift, to repeatedly express the intent of his donation after the gift was made, to allow us to refer to his donations as such in publications without correction, and then, after five years, to inform us that it was a loan and that he wants his property returned, we feel is not fair play. We can assure the public, Jack Kirby fans and our supporters that Trustee Randolph Hoppe acted honestly and in accord with our by-laws."

Theakston responded to some of the claims overnight on his Facebook page, stating, "The museum is required to document donations. None exist."

"From the start I told Randy that I would contribute all of my Kirby research to the museum when a real building housed it," he wrote, responding to a question from a Facebook follower. "In the mean time I donated a box of Kirby-related items and got paperwork on the whole thing. That part was very professional."

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