Brown University in Providence, R.I., is suing Williamsburg art and
artifacts collector Donald R. Tharpe in federal court seeking the
return of the Col. Rush C. Hawkins sword.
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar this morning set a Sept. 7 trial
date to settle the matter, but ordered both sides to try to work it
out before then.
Tharpe’s attorney Alan Silber told the judge that Tharpe is the
rightful owner because Brown officials had previously relinquished its
ownership and the statute of limitations has since expired.
Brown’s attorneys said that the sword was stolen from its collection
in the mid-1970s and that the university maintains ownership despite
several transfers since then. Brown considers the 1863 Tiffany silver
Silber said Tharpe paid $35,000 for the sword from an Illinois art
dealer in 1992. Tharpe and his wife were in court this morning but
declined to comment.