Deal reached to keep military museum open
August 31, 2012 4:10PM
Updated: September 1, 2012 4:40PM
AUBURN (AP) — A military museum in northeastern Indiana will remain open under an agreement to end a bank’s foreclosure lawsuit with the selling of a building and perhaps some museum items.
The deal announced Thursday by the Dean V. Kruse Foundation calls for it to sell the unused building on which it owes $2.9 million to Farmers State Bank of LaGrange. The foundation built it to house the memorabilia of auto racing icon Andy Granatelli who later changed his mind about using the Auburn location, The Star of Auburn and The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported.
A DeKalb County judge had ordered in July the sale of the Kruse Foundation museums site, which includes the National Military History Center.
The Granatelli building will be auctioned off Sunday, coinciding with this weekend’s Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival classic-car event in Auburn.
“Automotive enthusiasts from around the world are in Auburn for the weekend festivities, so potential buyers will be present in Auburn,” the foundation said in a statement. “Those enthusiasts represent clubs, or the clubs themselves will be here who could have a purpose for this building located in the heart of the festival activities every Labor Day weekend.”
Dean Kruse hosted classic car auctions for nearly four decades in Auburn, about 20 miles north of Fort Wayne. Auctions that he staged each Labor Day weekend drew tens of thousands of visitors who watched bidders compete to buy rare and classic autos, including cars once owned by Clark Gable, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.
But Kruse has been sued repeatedly in recent years for business practices that include not releasing money to vehicle consigners or vehicle titles to purchasers. In 2010, Indiana officials suspended his auctioneer’s license and stripped his former Auburn-based auction house Kruse International of its license.
The military museum opened in 2003 after Kruse bought the inventory of a closing World War II museum in Belgium and shipped it to Auburn.
The Kruse Foundation said it planned to also sell some military museum items in a November auction to help pay off the loan.