Chicago Man Says He'll "Roast" Rare Papers If Harvard Won't Pay Up

A Chicago man who discovered a trunk of rare papers formerly belonging to Harvard University's first black graduate says he plans on burning them all if Harvard doesn't stop lowballing him on the price. Rufus McDonald is not playing around: "I'll roast and burn them," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The personal papers of Richard T. Greener, who graduated from Harvard in 1870, had long been thought to be gone forever. But last year McDonald, a contractor by trade, found them while cleaning out an abandoned home in Englewood. Museums, Harvard, and other colleges immediately expressed an interest in obtaining the Greener documents. McDonald sold two of the pieces to the University of South Carolina, another school where Greener studied, for $52,000.

Harvard, on the other hand, according to McDonald, has offered him a measly $7,500 for a collection of papers that has been appraised at $65,000. Harvard disputes that claim, telling the Sun-Times it offered McDonald "significantly more." Regardless, McDonald has labeled the Harvard bid as "insulting," and he's ready to show them how serious he is—by threatening to burn the entire collection.

“It might sound crazy, but people who know me know I’d really do it — I’m sick and tired of Harvard’s BS,” he said, adding that he thought the Ivy League school was trying to take advantage of him.