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Famous mandolin

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mandolin.jpgFamous mandolin tied up in legal battle

Bill Monroe's son wants to sell to 'right place'

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 Posted: 9:49 AM EDT (1349 GMT)

Bill Monroe's 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin is considered one of the finest mandolins in existence.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- The son of bluegrass music pioneer Bill Monroe said Monday he wants to sell his father's famous mandolin, preferably to a museum where it can go on public display.

The 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin remains locked in a vault while a Nashville court sorts out a disputed deal that would have sold it for $1.1 million to a proposed museum in Monroe's hometown.

James Monroe, 63, told The Associated Press that he wants out of that deal so he can put the mandolin back on the market and pay the inheritance taxes on his father's estate.

"I have a great respect for my father, and I just want to see it go to the right place and the right people," James Monroe said.

The younger Monroe agreed to sell the mandolin to the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Foundation of Kentucky in Rosine for $1.1 million in October 2002.

The group paid Monroe $162,500 before a financing deal collapsed. Monroe's lawyer, Gerard Stranch, said his client then tried to void the contract to seek other buyers.

A trial had been scheduled Monday in Nashville but was delayed because of a lawyer's illness. A new trial date has not been set.

At the center of the case is the battered mandolin, bought from a Miami barbershop for $150 in 1943 and considered a key to Bill Monroe's stylistic development. A 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin is considered the finest mandolin produced.

"It's not tantamount to a Stradivarius violin, but it comes close," said Charles Wolfe, a Middle Tennessee State University professor and music historian.

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