New Museum a Shrine to Filthy Rich

The gift shop includes a sofa made out of nickels, which sells for $120,000.

ByABC News
January 9, 2008, 5:19 PM

Jan. 10, 2008— -- The titans of Wall Street have opened a new museum that pays tribute to the markets, the dollar and, of course, themselves.

The museum is housed in the stunning former headquarters of the Bank of New York -- founded by Alexander Hamilton -- and is a block away from the New York Stock Exchange.

Inside is a hodgepodge of exhibits ranging from a $10,000 bill to gold bars to original stock certificates.

"Our purpose is to bring Wall Street to Main Street, and to show the importance and richness of our financial markets and promote a deeper understanding," said museum president and CEO Lee Kjelleren.

Visitors who shell out $8 to tour this tribute to capitalism -- the only public museum of its kind -- will get to see an original Ford Motor Co. stock certificate signed by Henry Ford, a ticker tape from the great crash of 1929 and a Treasury bond issued to and signed by President George Washington.

To put it simply, this is a place for those who like money. But the general public can also learn about how the markets work and have evolved, and trace the history of America's currency from the barter of beaver pelts to individual state currencies to the modern dollar. There is even a small display on the current subprime mortgage crisis.

An interactive display of entrepreneurs has various CEOs telling the stories of how they founded their companies. Some are success stories, and some, like the airline People's Express, failed.

"The idea is that we can learn from our mistakes," said David Tarnow, who was hired to interview the executives and create the exhibits.

The gift shop is a dream for any hedge fund titan or Wall Street baron looking to redecorate.

It is stocked with bull and bear cufflinks, money artwork and canceled stock shares from companies that include Pan American World Airlines, the Pennsylvania Railroad Co., the American Tobacco Co. and the American Telephone and Telegraph Co.

But the ultimate gift for the money freak who has it all might just be a sofa made out of nickels, which sells for $120,000.