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Harriet Tubman Home Loses Bid for Rare Photo, Sold for $161K to Manhattan Dealer

Harriet Tubman took this photo not long after the Civil War ended in the 1860s. (Twitter)

The rare photo of a younger Harriet Tubman has been sold at auction for $161,000 and the highest bidder wasn’t Tubman’s Auburn, N.Y., national historic site.

After launching the #BringHarrietHome campaign earlier this month, the Harriet Tubman Home lost the Swann Galleries auction for the photo and the album in which it was contained Thursday, March 30. The image was taken at an Auburn photography studio between 1866 and 1868 when Tubman was in her 40s. The 44-page portfolio also included images of other abolitionists, including John Willis Menard, the first Black man elected to Congress.

The New York City company announced the artifact was purchased by Manhattan-based dealer Lion Heart Autographs for $130,000 and a $31,000 buyer’s premium, according to the Associated Press. The expected sale price was $20,000-$30,000, which is in the range the Harriet Tubman home was prepared to pay out. The organization had raised $28,000 on the Women You Should Know campaign website, $3,000 more than its goal.

“Thanks to everyone who so generously supported our campaign to #BringHarrietHome,” the fundraiser’s page read Thursday. “Her photo and the album in which it was found did indeed go up on the auction block this morning and while we went armed with a healthy maximum bid, thanks to each and every one of your contributions, the winning [bid] came in at $130,000.

“So, while we have been unsuccessful in bringing Harriet home today, the love and support shown by all of you is truly invaluable to us and will last forever. We will be back in touch, via email, when the campaign ends on April 6 to let you know about next steps, as outlined below.”

The Harriet Tubman Home stated that donors have the option not to have their transaction processed or contribute their funds to help with the site’s docent training and the restoration of the brick home Tubman resided in for more than three decades until her death in 1913.

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