American Arts Trust Meets Success With Its First Initiative

Important African American Collection Snatched Back From Auction Block With Help of Upstart American Arts Trust

American Arts Trust


Art is the Answer


Los Angeles, CA December10, 2012

Fifty years ago, veteran rhythm and blues radio personality, Nathaniel “Magnificent” Montague realized how little documentation existed of the African American experience.  A passion and obsession was born and he began to amass more than 7000 pieces, some rare, some one of a kind. His dream was to one day gift the collection to the nation.

Collections of this size are usually maintained by libraries or museums due to the associated costs.  The financial burden eventually became overwhelming forcing Montague into bankruptcy, where the collection was in peril of being broken up and auctioned off to pay the debt.

American Arts Trust President/co-founder David Hahn recounts, my wife saw a CNN story about the threat and she said “Look, this is what you are supposed to be doing…do it.” We hadn’t even printed business cards or launched our website, but Montague’s passion resonated with us.

He and co-founder/EVP Ricky Schultz researched the story and jumped into the fray.  The Trust focused on two goals.  First, ensure the collection remain intact, and second, find a proper home where it could be displayed and enjoyed by the greatest number of Americans and made available for scholarly educational purposes.

They discovered trustee Doton Melech was also moved by the story and sympathetic to Montague’s plight.  There had been a lot of interest in the collection but in six months no one submitted an offer.  Everyone wanted to cherry pick the collection at auction, and the creditor’s counsel was pushing for this.  American Arts Trust forced everyone’s hand by submitting a formal bid for the entire collection, one high enough to satisfy the court.  It worked.  Within a week there were five bids. 

American Arts Trust was also successful in having the Court order that the collection remain intact.  When their hunch that an “anonymous” bidder was in fact the Smithsonian, American Arts Trust bowed out, its mission accomplished.  The collection will become part of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2015.

The American Arts Trust is a new charitable foundation, based in Los Angeles.  Its mission is “to preserve, protect, and promote those Arts and Crafts that are uniquely American.” Its co-founders believe “art is the answer” and with art we can resolve many issues and problems in a positive, productive and humane fashion. 

For more about their other initiatives:   The Great Green Barrier, a solution to the U.S.-Mexican border problem.  The Colonel Harvey L Schultz Memorial Wall, a virtual wall for veteran’s art.  A Dialectic in Rhythm, an evening of jazz, tap and beat poetry.  plans to honor Vincent De Rosa, the most recorded musician in history.   and, in partnership with Made In USA, an attempt to save Steuben Glass, American’s iconic art glass company. visit

Contact:  David W. Hahn 323-314-3614

                                                                                # # #

Items from the collections
David w. Hahn
Ricky Schultz
Nathaniel Montague