Hall of Fame Reaches Settlement for Monroe, Carter and Cash Instruments

Historic musical instruments once owned by the late Bill Monroe, Maybelle Carter and Johnny Cash will remain the property of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as part of a $750,000 settlement with the estate of the late Robert W. “Bob” McLean, it was announced Tuesday (Dec. 30). The settlement comes after more than a year of negotiations between Robert Waldschmidt, the trustee for the McLean bankruptcy estate and the Country Music Foundation, the not-for-profit educational organization that operates the museum. McLean, a businessman and philanthropist who lived in Murfreesboro, Tenn., provided financial assistance that allowed the museum to enter into agreements to purchase Monroe’s Gibson F-5 mandolin and Carter’s Gibson L-5 guitar, two of the most significant instruments in popular music history. McLean committed suicide after being forced into involuntary bankruptcy in 2007. He is accused of operating a “Ponzi scheme,” defrauding investors of more than $67 million over a period of several years. In the matter of the musical instruments, Waldschmidt had sought to recover approximately $l.54 million from the museum. The figure represents McLean’s total cash payments to the museum plus the value of two Cash guitars McLean purchased outright and donated to the museum. Built in 1923, the Gibson mandolin is the one Monroe used throughout his career on recordings and live performances after he purchased it in the ’40s. Carter purchased the Gibson guitar, built in 1928, shortly after she, cousin Sara and brother-in-law A.P. recorded their first music in Bristol, Tenn., in 1927. The Cash guitars are a 1968 Martin D-35 he used in the late ’60s on his ABC television series and the prototype of the Martin company’s Cash signature model he used in the 2003 music video for “Hurt.”