Newseum to acquire O.J. Simpson's acquittal-day suit, settling long court dispute
The clothes O.J. Simpson wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 were rejected by the Smithsonian but will still find a welcoming home in Washington -- with the permanent collection of the Newseum.
"It makes perfect sense for us," said Carrie Christoffersen, the Newseum's curator of collections. The Simpson verdict was viewed live on TV by millions of people; his photo ran on almost every front page in the United States. Eventually, she said, the clothes could join an exhibit with other trial artifacts -- press passes, cartoons, news-gathering technology from that dawn-of-the-Web era. "There's just no denying this was one of the trials of the century," she said.
For more than a decade, the tan Armani suit, white shirt and gold tie were at the center of a legal battle between Mike Gilbert, Simpson's former manager, and Fred Goldman, father of the man Simpson was charged with killing. Goldman later won a civil suit against the ex-NFL pro. The clothes were valuable, if bizarre, bits of memorabilia -- among the items Simpson was seeking in the Las Vegas heist-gone-awry that now has him in prison for at least nine years, and ones the Goldman family did not want to see turn a profit for anyone.
When Gilbert and Goldman resolved their differences by agreeing to donate the clothes to a museum, they opened a new quandary: Which museum? The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History quickly rejected the suit last month because it didn't strongly "represent" the historic moment, officials said, skirting questions of any ewww factor.
Both the Newseum and downtown's National Museum of Crime and Punishment raised their hands. On Tuesday, the Newseum announced it had prevailed. (Much disappointment at Crime and Punishment, which had lobbied hard for the gift: "This case put forensic science on the map," said chief operating officer Janine Vaccarello. "It would have been highly educational and informative in our Forensic/Crime Scene Investigation area.")
Gilbert did not return our calls; he told the Associated Press that he would hand-deliver the outfit next week and that he hopes it "will help people ponder the legal system and celebrity."
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