PTL, which stood for “Praise the Lord,” aired from 1974 to 1987 and was the flagship program of the Bakkers’ Heritage USA ministry, a 2,300-acre complex south of Charlotte, N.C., designed for vacations and Christian living.
The ministry — which included a hotel, campground and theme park — collapsed in 1987 when Jim Bakker went to prison for fraud. The Bakkers divorced in 1992, and the following year Tammy Faye Bakker married Roe Messner, a longtime family friend and contractor at Heritage USA. Tammy Faye Messner died in 2007 from colon cancer.
After the PTL ministry collapsed, the 15,069 hourlong tapes were passed to a Charlotte-area church, then a cable content provider, Gospel Properties President Ben Dyer told the AP.
Dyer, an investment banker, acquired the tapes when the cable provider defaulted on a loan from his company. He plans to auction them off in San Francisco on March 27.
A spokeswoman for Jim Bakker, who now lives in Branson, Mo., and hosts The New Jim Bakker Show with his wife, Lori, told the AP that Bakker considers the tapes part of his legacy. He said they have been appraised at around $8 million.
Dean Becker, vice chairman of Ocean Tomo, the Chicago-based bank handling the auction, said the tapes offer enough content to create a channel showing The PTL Club exclusively.
Dyer noted that the audience already knows PTL’s history. “People can watch these shows knowing how their story ended,” he said. “It makes them even more intriguing to watch.”
Dyer told the Charlotte Observer that there are several interested bidders in the tapes.