Aug 7, 2023 - News

Another dispute arises over rare Tiffany windows from Philly church

Tiffany windows

The battle over these Tiffany rose windows continues. Photo: Courtesy of Freeman's.

A fight is underway for the massive payout from the auction of a pair of rare stained-glass Tiffany windows this year that had been taken from a historic African American church in Philly.

Why it matters: The unwitting sale of the windows by the owner of the former Hickman Temple AME Church to an antiques collector was yet another example of the problems that can arise when redeveloping historic buildings in the city.

State of play: All profits from the $252,000 auction remain frozen, the Inquirer reports.

  • Fulton Bank, which holds the mortgage for the West Philly church, is arguing that it's owed the money from the auction because the windows should be considered part of the church's mortgage lien, per the Inquirer.

Catch up quick: Late last year, Paul Brown, a Lancaster antiques collector, purchased the windows for $6,000 from the church's new owners, who had intended to destroy them while redeveloping the site.

  • Their Tiffany's provenance wasn't discovered until Brown reached out to Freeman's auction house to ask how to repair the glass.
  • The windows were later put up for auction and sold to an anonymous buyer in May.
  • Brown previously said he agreed to share some of the profits from the auction with the pastor of the church, per the Inquirer.

Between the lines: The windows could have remained at the church if calls to designate the building a historical site succeeded.

  • Yes, but: The former owners of the church stymied those efforts over concerns the designation would decrease the property's value for sale offers.

The intrigue: It remains uncertain whether the auction house has transferred the windows to the anonymous buyer, per the Inquirer.


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