Mark Hofmann is a confessed forger and convicted murderer, currently serving two life sentences in Utah. He was a rare documents dealer and collector as a student at Utah State University. Among other things, he claimed to have found a Lucy Mack Smith letter, the Anthon Transcript, E.B. Grandin contract, two pages of the original Book of Mormon transcript, the Salamander Letter, a blessing that designated Joseph Smith III to be prophet (as opposed to Brigham Young), the Book of Lehi, and copies of the McLellin collection as well. During his heyday, he also forged documents of the letters of Emily Dickinson, Abraham Lincoln, and the pilgrims as well as signatures of such historic figures as John Quincy Adams, Daniel Boone, John Brown, Andrew Jackson, Mark Twain, Nathan Hale, John Hancock, Francis Scott Key, John Milton, Paul Revere, Myles Standish, and Button Gwinnett. It is unknown how many of his forgeries may still be in circulation or collections.
He grew up in an Latter-day Saint family and served a proselyting mission to England. However, at age 14 he had started to doubt the truthfulness of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later presented copies of forged documents to the Church in order to support his doubts. He is an atheist.
While he made some money on the collections, he nevertheless suffered financial difficulties. He, with the help of Hugh W. Pinnock, had obtained a loan for $185,000, but was unable to pay it off. He detonated two bombs in Salt Lake City, killing Steve Christensen, a business partner, and Kathy Sheets, the wife of another business partner. Hofmann detonated a third bomb, which injured himself.
In 1987 Hofmann was sentenced to two life sentences in the Utah State Prison, where he presently resides. He was excommunicated from the Church after his sentencing. He has twice attempted suicide and no longer speaks to the media. Mark Hofmann has since gone down in history as a murderer and enemy of the Church, and as one of the greatest forgers in American history. Some of Hofmann's forgeries are collectors' items in their own right, being of sufficient quality to fool even seasoned experts.
In the aftermath, several books were written regarding the incident, most of them hostile to the Church. Steve Christensen's father, Mac, gave an exemplary forgiveness, which has often been quoted by the media and the Church.
A three-part documentary on his work of forgery and murder premiered on Netflix in March 2021.