By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Intrigue continues in Evergreen cases

It’s been 27 months since the bankruptcy of Evergreen International Airlines launched a cottage industry of legal actions that have confounded not only observers, but participants.

When a monarchy falls, there normally is a plan of succession for guidance and governance. Not so with realms created by Del Smith, whose interlocking collection of private, for-profit and nonprofit ventures were in varying stages of financial crisis when he died in late 2014.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Bankruptcies and other lawsuits engulfed the aviation company, nonprofit entities created to build the museum, the museum itself and the estate of Del Smith. None of them are resolved, and the confusion only deepens as new legal challenges arise.

Let’s set aside the original EIA bankruptcy, which once seemed settled but now is embroiled in complex charges of fraudulent pre-bankruptcy transfer of assets. Today’s Page 1 story about the sale of Evergreen Museum Campus assets follows months of behind-the-scenes intrigue, and is the prelude to an important decision about who will own the buildings that house the institution.

The museum, remember, is an institution, not a building. As you follow along, here are a few basics:

Del Smith established Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, a for-profit holding company that owned the original museum and theater buildings along with dozens of aircraft. EVA’s 2014 bankruptcy ended in the sale of its assets to settle museum development debts. Those assets went to the somewhat mysterious George Schott in apparent partnership with the Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts.

Smith established the Michael King Smith Foundation to develop the museum campus, including ownership of land, the space museum and waterpark buildings, various aircraft and the new chapel. Trustees of the MKSF in January filed for bankruptcy to block foreclosure action by Portland-based Hoffman Construction, which is owed about $2 million. Hoffman, according to the MKSF, “has been paid in excess of $160 million for development and construction services related to the Museum campus and its surroundings.”

As sovereign, Del Smith ran everything on both sides of the highway. After his death, the various Evergreen realms collided in a series of strategies both guided and challenged by diverse fiduciary interests.

This week, MKSF filed a motion for bankruptcy court approval of an asset-purchase offer by the same George Schott who purchased the other museum buildings. Meanwhile, the museum board of directors favors sale of those assets to another suitor, and more bidding may follow. (See page 1 story for details.)

So, readers, stay tuned for what promises to be an illuminating series of reports as we watch the latest chapter unfold of the Evergreen saga.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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