Broker Linked to More Artifacts Missing Indian Items Tied to Art Figure

By Tom Uhlenbrock And Charlene Prost Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 25, 1996 | Go to article overview

Broker Linked to More Artifacts Missing Indian Items Tied to Art Figure


Tom Uhlenbrock And Charlene Prost Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The Rev. William Barnaby Faherty is a trusting soul (The following text appeared only in the Three Star Edition) - no match for American Indian art dealer Tom Julian. (End of text)

Faherty lent American Indian art dealer Tom Julian five valuable Indian items from the museum on the campus of the old St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant. The loan was for three months. Eleven years later, the items are still gone.

The deal happened in 1985, two years before news of a scandal at the Missouri Historical Society. More than a dozen American Indian items were missing there. Director Raymond Pisney was fired.

Julian was the middleman in that scandal. He said he had taken the items in a trade with Pisney. He led the FBI to some of them and never was charged.

Four weeks ago, Faherty read in the Post-Dispatch that Julian once again was visiting area museums. A story July 28 reported that Julian has been claiming to represent Indian tribes eager to reclaim human remains and sacred items under a new federal law.

Faherty last week told a reporter of the seminary's losses and provided a loan document signed by Julian in 1985, photographs of two of the missing items and a historical accounting of their value.

Faherty said he had lent Julian two pipes, a fringed hide shirt and two sets of beaded leggings that had belonged to Father Peter DeSmet, the pioneering Jesuit missionary who visited Western tribes in the 1840s.

"Those were gifts from the Indians to Father DeSmet," Faherty said.

Photographs of the hide leggings show both pairs were decorated with pony beads, the earliest beads used by American Indians.

The leggings also had quill decoration; Indians used dyed bird and porcupine quills as decoration before Europeans brought beads from Italy.

The leggings, which reach from ankle to hip, also are decorated with either human or horse hair and painted with abstract designs.

The photos were faxed to an expert on Plains Indian material, Richard Pohrt, co-owner of the prestigious Morning Star Gallery of Santa Fe, N.M.

"I haven't seen a great pair of pony-beaded leggings in some time," Pohrt responded by telephone. "They'd probably be worth $40,000 to $45,000. Somebody might say a little more. I don't think they would be much less."

The seminary had five pipe stems in its collection. Julian "borrowed" two. Of the three left behind, one is nearly 4 feet long and decorated with intricate quillwork and a shock of dyed horse hair.

There are no photographs of the missing pipes, but Pohrt was given a description of the best one still in the collection.

"A 4-foot quilled stem, that's pretty major," he said. "That would be in the range of $40,000 to $50,000. One sold at Sotheby's a couple of years ago for about $80,000."

Faherty did not have a photo of the missing hide shirt and could not recall whether it had quill or bead decoration.

A fine example of early hide war shirts can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars on today's market.

The DeSmet connection with the materials increases their value. "I remember when the insurance people came out one time to look at the collection," Faherty said. "Anything DeSmet touched went up."

`Doesn't Ring A Bell'

Reached last week at his home in Minnesota, Julian said he did not recall taking the items from St. Stanislaus seminary.

"Doesn't ring a bell," he said.

But Faherty recounted the spring afternoon in 1985 when Julian and a second man showed up at the museum at 700 Howdershell Road. Both, Faherty said, were knowledgeable about art, but he could not recall the second man's name.

Asked how Julian might have found the museum, which is not well-known outside North County, Faherty said: "He probably heard about it from somebody at the historical society. I knew Ray Pisney. …

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