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Seller Comes Forward, as Auction of Art by Internment Camp Detainees Is Called Off

Hundreds of artifacts from Japanese-Americans detained in internment camps during World War II were withdrawn from auction Wednesday night, after a petition—which emphasized that the items were given to historian Allen Eaton “for the purposes of educating the public about the Japanese American experience during World War II”—drew 6,700 signatures, according to the New York Times’ Eve M. Kahn

John Ryan, whose family had put the objects up for sale, has also come forward, according to the New York Times’ Randy Kennedy, Eve M. Kahn, and Patricia Leigh Brown. He said: “We have tried to be good stewards of this material and protect it over the years,” adding, “We weren’t trying to extort money from anyone.”

Several days before the items hit the auction block, the family turned down an offer to purchase the collection from the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, in Powell, Wyoming—a former camp that’s now become a foundation focusing on the history of interment. Ryan defended the family’s decision to let the pieces go to auction instead, saying, “We didn’t feel qualified to make the decision about whether it should go there,” and saying that the auction house had reassured them that institutions would be bidding on the collection.