The Emily Dickinson forgery was briefly touched on in the Netflix documentary. It turns out that Brent Ashworth played a critical role in identifying that forgery.
GT: So, basically what you’re telling me is Mark offered that back to you in 1984, I believe it was.
Brent: He offered it to me in ’84. He knew that was my favorite poet. That was manufactured for me, I’m just sure.
Brent: Nobody else knew about it. It ends up, 13 years later.
GT: But you read it and said..
Brent: I told Mark, it’s horrible. I said, “It looks like her writing to me.” I didn’t question the fact that she’d written it, but I didn’t want it. I’m not going to spend $10,000 for a poem that I think’s the worst one she’d ever written. I didn’t know Hofmann had written it. Now, it makes perfect sense because of Hofmann’s ideology, “God doesn’t care about us, so we don’t care about him.” That’s kind of [Mark’s attitude,] which is not the way Latter-day Saint people that love Emily Dickinson know about her writing.
GT: Right. So, essentially, he sold it to somebody else. It floated around the US and then ends up in the Sotheby’s catalog.
Brent: What happened was that Shannon Flynn had taken it down to Todd Axelrod for Mark [Hofmann]. Todd Axelrod was this dealer down in Nevada. There used to be autograph stores in about six big malls around the country. There was one that I visited years ago in the Galleria Mall in Dallas, Texas. There was one, as I recall, in Florida. There was one in Philadelphia. There were six big malls around the country. Todd began in Las Vegas at the Showplace Mall, right on the strip. That’s where his first store was. That’s where Shannon Flynn took that and a few other things to him, before the Hofmann bombings and all that. It’s interesting, so you might ask Shannon about it sometime. He carried that stuff down there.
Find out how in our next conversation with Brent! Do you think Axelrod sold it without disclosing that it was affiliated with Mark Hofmann?