By Tiffany Alexander, CNN
Las Vegas (CNN) – Nathaniel Montague spent more than 50 of his 84 years chasing history, meticulously collecting rare and one-of-a-kind fragments of America’s past. Slave documents. Photographs. Signatures. Recordings.
Montague – Magnificent Montague, as he’s been known since his days as a pioneering radio DJ – amassed an 8,000-piece collection reflecting names from the well-known to the forgotten to those history never thought to remember. It’s valued in the millions; some call it priceless. One assessment of just five of the pieces puts the total value of those treasures alone somewhere between $592,000 and $940,000.
“I shudder to even fantasize what it could go for,” said appraiser Philip Merrill, who performed the assessment.
For decades Montague carted the collection of African-American artwork, artifacts and ephemera around the country with his family as he took jobs at radio stations in New York, Chicago, Oakland, and Los Angeles, and then finally to Las Vegas, where he moved 12 years ago after closing a station he built from the ground up in Palm Springs, California.
The Montague Collection was his prized possession, but because of financial woes he has lost it. It is now up for auction.