hi-nb-robert-mccorkill

Robert McCorkill, who died in Saint John in 2004, bequeathed his estate to the National Alliance, a white supremacist group based in West Virginia. (Southern Law Poverty Center)

A valuable collection of ancient coins and artifacts collection willed to an American white supremacist organization could go to the living relatives of a New Brunswick man instead.

Robert McCorkill was an avid collector of ancient and rare pieces before he died 10 years ago in Saint John. McCorkill had willed the items to the National Alliance, based in West Virginia, before he died.

But a New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench judge recently ruled that his will is void after it was challenged by McCorkill’s estranged sister, Isabelle Rose McCorkill.

Judge William Grant ruled that leaving the American group money in a will is illegal and against Canadian policy.

Now the only thing that could stop the family from inheriting the estate is an appeal the judge's ruling.

Marc-Antoine Chiasson, the lawyer for McCorkill's sister, said the other side has 30-days to appeal.

If there are no appeals filed, Chiasson said the estate could be "divided equally amongst Mr. McCorkill's siblings, which include our client and another living brother in Manitoba."

The total value of the collection is currently estimated at $250,000.

McCorkill's collection includes Greek and Roman coins that are thousands of years old, an ancient Iranian sword, and more, according to an appraiser's report from August 2010.

His sister, who lives in Ottawa, was not interested in the valuable collection. But when she learned it had been willed to the National Alliance, she felt compelled to step in, Chiasson had said.

The collection, which court documents show, could be spread out in three separate locations.

Chiasson said the exact whereabouts of the coins are unknown.

"We will be working within the next few weeks to figure out exactly where everything is,” Chiasson said.

No decision on appeal

Grant said that for him to find the bequeath valid, he would have had to ignore an "overwhelming body of evidence."

"The evidence before the court convinces me that in the case of the NA [National Alliance] the purpose for which it exists is to promote white supremacy through the dissemination of propaganda, which incites hatred of various identifiable groups which they deem to be non-white and therefore unworthy," the judge wrote.

Andy Lodge, who represents the Canadian Association For Free Expression, a group that believes the gift to the National Alliance should have been allowed, said on Tuesday that no decision had been made on whether to appeal the ruling.

If an appeal is filed, the estate could not be transferred until the case is finally settled.

In his 44-page ruling, Grant described the written materials of the National Alliance as "racist, white supremacist and hate-inspired."

Grant said that for him to find the bequeath valid, he would have had to ignore an "overwhelming body of evidence."

"The evidence before the court convinces me that in the case of the NA [National Alliance] the purpose for which it exists is to promote white supremacy through the dissemination of propaganda, which incites hatred of various identifiable groups which they deem to be non-white and therefore unworthy," the judge wrote.