December 2, 2022

A Patriots fan is suing for mishandling the signed Tom Brady flag, resulting in a $1 million drop in value

A Patriots fan is suing for mishandling the signed Tom Brady flag, resulting in a $1 million drop in value

Football teams are not museums. This is something Daniel Vital learned the hard way after loaning him New England Patriots Hall of Fame Rare American flag signed Tom Brady.

Vitaly is suing the Patriots for allegedly sabotaging the signed flag by displaying it using inappropriate techniques, which led to the signature fading and possibly devaluing the flag by up to $1 million.

Let’s analyze this case.

Science

According to the suit, the signed flag is very rare. It’s an American flag that was flown at Foxboro Stadium in 2001, the year Brady took over as quarterback and the final year of the stadium’s existence. There is a patch sewn onto it commemorating Foxboro’s final season, along with the date and match when that flag flew (December 22, 2001 vs. Miami Dolphin). It was signed by Brady a few years later, and the flag and signature are fully documented.

loan

The Professional Football Hall of Fame passed the flag display, but the Patriots Hall of Fame was interested, so the two came to an agreement. HoF presents itself as a museum, with a man named Kurt Evans as its curator, and the loan agreement reflects this, claiming that science will be handled and exhibited “using accepted library and museum techniques and standards.”

In fact, Evans allegedly assured Vitale several times that the HoF was a museum and its science would be handled with care. Vitaly claims that due to the language of the agreement and Evans’ guarantees, he decided not to insist on insurance.

holidays

Museum promises are the crux of this suit, because Vitaly claims the flag has never been treated like a museum piece. The complaint details how Vitale discovered that the signature on the flag had gone off, almost like the plot of a sitcom.

In November 2021, about five months into the loan, Vitaly and his fiancée stopped by to watch the flag. But it was not shown. A museum attendee identified as Kane allegedly assured Vitale that the science was good, but that’s when Vitale noticed that the signature on a different display item had gone badly off. Here’s what Ken said in response.

“I know, I’ve told them for years that they need to turn off the lights and the glass. It’s not the right stuff for this kind of display.”

If this is an episode of a comedy series, this is where the audience will laugh out loud. Because in January 2022 Vitaly finally heard from Evans for the first time in months and was told there was some “slight fading” in the signature when it was on display. Evans claimed that Sharpie’s signature blue had faded simply on contact with air, because the lighting and glass were all museum quality.

So imagine Vitaly’s surprise when he spoke to the HoF hotelier and discovered that it was not a museum and none of the staff had any experience with preserving memorabilia or museum practices in general, despite the signed agreement that they would be. It is treated as a museum piece.

The amount of money Vitaly is seeking in the lawsuit has not been specified, but he is seeking damages, interest and cost for HF’s breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and negligence, which he claims reduced the value of the flag by as much as $1 million.

A Patriots fan is suing the team for allegedly incorrectly displaying a rare signed American Tom Brady flag, destroying the signature and reducing the value. (Photo by Maddy Meyer/Getty Images)