Many people are well aware that Jerald Tanner called out the Salamander letter as a forgery, but did you know that Brent Ashworth beat him to the punch! Brent tells how Mark Hofmann offered him the letter before Steve Christensen, and Brent turned it down because he believed it was a forgery!
Brent: It was Hofmann that offered me the Salamander Letter, and it was $50,000. He said, “Lyn [Jacobs] has it. Lyn found it.” This was Hofmann. “But, would you like to hear what was in it?” I said, “Well, yeah, that’s be interesting.” He read me the Salamander Letter for the first time. I said, “Mark, that is an obvious forgery.” He was really upset about that, because I’d never called anything of his a forgery. This was the first time. He wondered why I thought it was a forgery. I just happened to have been reading the Chase Affadavit, which sounds like that’s what Tanner was reading, too.
GT: Oh, Jerald Tanner, yeah. Well, I think that’s what Jerald thought.
Brent: Maybe so, but I told him I thought it was an early forgery from early Church history . I said, “Only the Church should handle that.” They can they get put it in its right setting, as President Hinckley told me they were going to do with their materials. I said, “A collector can’t really do that. We don’t have the means to do that, or the other sources to do that.”
GT: So, you’re saying that the Church would have turned it over to historians, who would have put it in the proper context.
Brent: That’s what President Hinckley told me when I was going out. He said, “Now, tell the people we’re not trying to hide them, but if we get them first, we’re going to give them to our historians and have them put them in their proper frame,” or whatever, “before we release them,” which seems reasonable to me. But, the Church gets attacked on it all the time, but unfairly, I think. So that’s what I thought and the other part of that story is Hofmann waved his finger at me and said, “It’s authentic.” And he said, “To prove it’s authentic, it’s going to be shown to Dean Jessee. Dean’s going to authenticate it and and then we’re going to show it to Ken Rendell and Rendell’s going to authenticate it. Rendell wrote a whole book on Hofmann and other forgeries, later. They interviewed him for this, [Netflix documentary,] but he didn’t make the tape I guess.
Brent: He’s a big dealer back East. He has The World War II Museum. He’s a good friend. Mark said, “The third reason is, it’s even going to make Time Magazine.” Rick, all three of those things happened, and it’s still a forgery. Everything happened that he said was going to prove it to be authentic happened, and it’s still a fake.
Do you think Church leaders were trying to hide the letter, or open it up to Mormon historians? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversations with Brent!
502: Hiding from Hofmann