A grandson and heir of Walmart founder Sam Walton has purchased the late Paul Allen’s collection of vintage warplanes and armored tanks housed at the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum at Paine Field in Everett.
Rumors have circulated in recent months that the collection could be moved to Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, but that’s not happening. The museum will stay in Everett.
Steuart Walton, 40, who sits on the boards of both Walmart and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, will take over stewardship of the collection from Microsoft billionaire Allen’s estate.
The Everett museum has been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Walton’s newly formed nonprofit, the Wartime History Museum, plans to reopen the museum at its current site “within the next year,” it announced Thursday.
The museum building is leased from Paine Field airport, owned by Snohomish County.
Adrian Hunt, the Everett museum’s executive director, said in a statement he’s “thrilled that the museum’s mission and impact will continue under the leadership of Steuart.”
Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed.
The aircraft collection consists of 23 warplanes, mostly from World War II, including a British Spitfire, a Japanese Zero, a German Stuka dive bomber, a Soviet Ilyushin II and a U.S. P-51 Mustang.
The armor collection includes artillery guns and main battle tanks.
Sundry other military artifacts include a German Enigma machine, used to code military communications during World War II, and a Soviet Scud ballistic missile system.
The collection also includes a replica of SpaceShipOne, the spacecraft built by Scaled Composites that in 1996 was the first private spaceship to conduct a suborbital flight.
In a statement, Walton said: “We hope to share these important artifacts for generations to come and unearth inspiring stories to help fuel innovation, understanding, and exploration.”
Walton is a lawyer and co-founder of a private equity firm. As a philanthropist, he’s funded economic and cultural development projects in the region around Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and promoted cycling and mountain biking. He is also a pilot, with his own collection of four vintage warplanes, a Super Corsair and three P-51 Mustangs.
In May 2020, he piloted one of those planes as all four did a formation flyover tour across 15 cities in Arkansas to honor front-line health care workers during the pandemic.
Allen’s will left most of his estate to a living trust, with his sister, Jody Allen, as trustee. Since his death in late 2018, the estate has sold off large pieces of his legacy.
Last week, it sold a cluster of Mercer Island properties for $67.1 million.
In all, the estate has sold off property worth nearly $350 million, Bloomberg reported, including a vast property in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Los Angeles, two Manhattan apartments, a Spanish-style hacienda in Beverly Hills, and other properties in California and eastern Idaho.
The estate in 2021 sold off Allen’s superyacht.
In July, Jody Allen denied speculation that the estate’s two professional sports teams — the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks — are now up for sale.
However, she added that most of her brother’s assets will eventually have to be sold, “given Paul’s plans to dedicate the vast majority of his wealth to philanthropy.”
“But estates of this size and complexity can take 10 to 20 years to wind down,” she said. “There is no preordained timeline by which the teams must be sold.”
The sale of the Everett museum is a relatively small piece of the wind down.