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August 28, 2019

Barack Obama Makes Formal Request for Aretha Franklin Hat Worn during 2009 Inauguration: Report

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If his request is granted, Barack Obama will include the iconic hat Aretha Franklin wore to his first inauguration in his museum that will break ground in 2020.  

In the midst of the family squabble over the late Aretha Franklin’s estate, Barack Obama’s name has been thrown into the mix due to an iconic hat the singer wore to his 2009 inauguration. According to the New York Times, the former president has made a formal request to take possession of the headwear.

Aretha Franklin performing t the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year at the Cathedral of St. John in New York on November 7, 2017. | Photo: Getty Images

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During Obama’s first inauguration, Franklin wore the custom-made gray pillbox hat with a massive bow during her performance of “America the Beautiful.” Its creator, Luke Song of Mr. Song Millinery, revealed it was Franklin’s wish for the hat to be turned over to Obama for preservation. Song confirmed this to Page Six.

“She told me she wanted it at the Barack Obama Presidential Library and I think that is exactly where it should be…[Franklin] loved Obama, I know, and I personally couldn’t think of any better place for it.”

It was previously reported that the hat was being eyed by the Smithsonian but after Franklin’s death, the institution confirmed it would not include the headpiece in its collection.

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Aretha Franklin wearing the iconic pillbox hat with a giant bow during her performance at President Barack Obama's 2009 Inauguration. | Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, David J. Bennett, Franklin’s estate attorney through the New York Times also confirmed Obama’s interest in taking possession of the hat. The publication stated,

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“In court, though, the sons remain apart. Two of them, Edward and Kecalf, attended a recent hearing, where the judge considered whether to allow a distribution of some personal items as keepsakes to the sons but also to people like Barack Obama, who Mr. Bennett said has asked for the elaborate silver bow hat that Franklin wore to his first inauguration.”

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It was previously reported that the hat was being eyed by the Smithsonian but after Franklin’s death, the institution confirmed it would not include the headpiece in its collection. Should it be acquired by Obama, it will be part of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago which is expected to break ground in late 2020. 

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Since Franklin’s death, there has been a lot of commotion regarding who should be in charge of her estate. Three handwritten wills were uncovered but have yet to be validated. In the meantime, two of the singer’s sons, Theodore White and Kecalf Cunningham have expressed interest in representing the estate. They’ve revealed their distrust of Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, who was the appointed estate representative before the wills were discovered.  

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