The American Irish Historical Society on Fifth Avenue

Fire Sale And High Tail

One important aspect linking the situation swirling around both the American Irish Historical Society and the Great Hunger Museum is that the respective attorney generals in the relevant states, New York and Connecticut, are carrying out investigations.

In the case of New York the investigation is being conducted by the office of Attorney General Letitia James.

That investigation was unveiled to the public eleven months ago this week.

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In a statement at the time James said in part: "Like so many New Yorkers, I know the importance of honoring the spirit of our cultural institutions.

"The American Irish Historical Society building on Fifth Avenue has been a focal point of the Irish experience in America for decades, and I take the recent concerns regarding the future of the building seriously.

"We are vigilantly monitoring the situation, and I want to reassure Irish communities here and abroad that any potential transaction would not move forward without consent from my office or consent from the courts. Irish Americans are an integral part of the fabric of our nation, and we are better off because of their hard work, strength, compassion, and resilience. I firmly stand in support of the Irish-American community and this historic landmark......”

The Attorney General's office stated at the time that it had not received a formal request from the American Irish Historical Society building regarding the sale of its premises.

"The American Irish Historical Society is a nonprofit entity. Under state law, the sale of property by a nonprofit organization is contingent on approval by OAG or the New York State Supreme Court," the AG's office said.

The sale of 991 Fifth Avenue has not transpired since that March, 2021 statement from Attorney General James.

But in the meantime the asking price has been knocked down from $52 million to $44 million and the AIHS has reportedly come up with a plan to high tail it out of town and relocate to upstate New York, presumably when a sale is agreed, and assuming it gets approval from the Attorney General.

In addition, a number of board members have quit and subpoenas have been issued by the AG's office.

As for that office's current position on where any and all stand? 

"The matter is ongoing and we cannot comment at this time," was the response to an inquiry from the Echo.

And there the hare, and the AIHS, sits.